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House Fires in South Dakota

Jun 20, 15

According to the Red Cross, home fires were the disaster that presented the greatest threat to people in South Dakota last year. The agency helped more people in the state affected by house fires than all other disasters combined. In 2014, a total of 198 households received financial support from the Red Cross to start replacing lost belongings.

House fires can be devastating – causing massive amounts of damage to property and belongings, as well as the tragic loss of life. The struggle to recover from a house fire can be particularly unbearable if you are not responsible for causing the fire. Victims should not be held responsible for the financial fallout of a fire caused by someone else’s negligence.

With a lawsuit involving a fire, the burden of proof lies with the party filing the case. This means that it’s vitally important to gather evidence surrounding the fire. While flames may destroy some of the physical evidence, an attorney will know which experts to contact that can assemble the facts from what the fire leaves behind.

The investigation of fire cases can get complicated. The origin and cause of a fire must be clearly established, which involves an expert understanding of legal and causation issues. The origin of the fire refers to the location in which the flames started burning first, while the cause of the fire refers to how the fire started. An experienced attorney will be confident speaking with experts such as arson investigators, fire marshals and material experts, as well as electrical or chemical engineers. It is also important in a fire case to evaluate regulations, codes and the treatment of injuries.

The best ways to protect yourself and your family from a house fire are to remove fire hazards and install smoke alarms on every level, and inside and outside sleeping areas. The Red Cross recommends these tips to avoid the most common household fire hazards:

  • Stay in the kitchen when using an open flame to cook (i.e. frying, grilling)
  • Test smoke alarms every month
  • Never smoke in bed
  • Keep matches and lighters out children’s reach
  • Keep furniture and curtains at least three feet from any heat source
  • Plug appliances directly into wall outlets whenever possible


It’s also important to have a household fire evacuation plan that has been reviewed and practiced by each family member. Prevention is key, but if you are already suffering from a fire-related loss, or struggling to receive fair payment from your insurance company, contact Johnson Janklow Abdallah for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping victims of these tragedies fight for their rights and financial security.

It is great to work with the attorneys at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah. They always provide excellent advice and service that is second to none.

Mike Miller | former NBA player

The lawyers at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah are consistently ranked as the top business lawyers in the state. Our business can always count on them to aggressively fight for our rights and provide straight-forward advice on complex issues.

Mark McNeary | Primrose Retirement Communities, LLC

Lawyers from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah regularly participate in legal education by judging intramural student skills competitions; helping prepare our nationally competitive litigation skills teams; serving or leading the South Dakota State Bar's Law School Committee; and, from time to time , providing guest lecturers. The Law School is grateful for the generous participation of lawyers like those from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah.

Tom Geu | former Dean, USD School of Law