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Defective products potential harm for Hawaii firefighters, others

Firefighters face a significant degree of risk and danger each time they respond to a fire alarm. One fireman outside the state of Hawaii pursued a defective products claim after being severely injured in a 2007 fire. Already a veteran of foreign war, the man's family said they did not expect that his job as a civilian would end up being more dangerous than his military combat service.

The firefighter had responded to what he says was a rather routine call when a fire was reported at a bowling alley eight years ago. While fighting the flames inside the building, the ceiling caved in on him. His uniform was equipped with a special alarm feature which should have emitted a signal for immediate assistance; however, it failed to work properly. What should have been a quick rescue ended up leaving him burning in the wreckage for 20 minutes. His injuries were so severe that he remained in the hospital for months and lost both an ear and one of his arms.

Reportedly, the man became increasingly concerned when he started to hear stories of similar injuries and deaths of others whose alarms malfunctioned on the job. The firefighter filed a lawsuit, and a jury ultimately ruled in his favor. He and his wife stated that they are happy to have the case behind them and look forward to moving ahead in life and spending time with their children.

Hawaii law allows anyone who believes that a defective product caused illness or injury to file a claim in civil court. While this firefighter may have been entitled to workers' compensation benefits as a result of his on-the-job injuries, those benefits do not preclude a defective products claim against a product manufacturer. Experienced professionals can evaluate the circumstances of the case and provide ongoing support in pursuing the best available options. Any compensation awarded in a successful claim could be used to absorb costs incurred through medical bills and ongoing recovery.

Source: twcnews.com, "Injured Firefighter Wins Equipment Malfunction Lawsuit", Bill Carey, Feb. 19, 2015

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