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Space heater season is here: Beware of dangers!

As the weather starts to transition toward the chillier nights of fall, a lot of people will drag out their space heaters before they ultimately crank up the gas furnaces. It makes sense -- space heaters can be used just where you need them and are more economical to run than a whole furnace when there's just a slight chill in the air.

Unfortunately, space heaters can also be badly designed and dangerous -- and that can result in serious injuries to the users. Malfunctioning electric heaters have been known to catch on fire at night while people are asleep. Other electric heaters lack proper safety mechanisms that shut them off when they're accidentally tipped over. Oil heaters require proper ventilation to keep people from breathing in poisonous fumes. There are plenty of examples of heaters that ended up causing family tragedies because they were improperly handled, ventilated or designed.

Can victims of space heater injuries (or their survivors) take measures against the manufacturers or sellers of these space heaters when they cause a tragedy?

Sometimes. If the manufacturer or seller of the space heater was somehow negligent, you may have a case.

In order to determine if negligence is a factor, you have to examine several different things:

  • Were there known defects in the space heater's design that the company failed to pass on to consumers?
  • Was there a recall in effect that hadn't been widely advertised?
  • Was there an easy, obvious way to redesign the device in order to make it safer?
  • Did the company fail to exercise a reasonable amount of care, given the foreseeable use of the space heater, to make the product as safe as possible for consumers?
  • Was there a defect in the way the product was manufactured that increased the risk of something bad happening to consumers?
  • Were there defects in the way the product was marketed? For example, was it shown in ads on the box with kids and adults huddled up close together around it, even though the manufacturer knew that doing so would be dangerous and put people at risk of burns?

If you were injured due to a space heater malfunction, an attorney familiar with product liability cases can help to protect your right to fair compensation.

Source: Consumerwatch.com, "Heaters/Space Heaters," accessed Sep. 08, 2017

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Gary D. Ginsberg is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has been recognized as an expert in litigating cases in the courts of New Jersey.

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