Nobody expects that the very clothes on their back could be a source of possible danger and tragedy. In the 1940s, there were numerous instances of clothing combustion that eventually led to the signing of the US Flammable Fabrics Act in 1953 to protect the consumer from clothing that could easily ignite and cause bodily harm. Today, clothing manufacturers remain bound by regulations that require clothes to meet strict standards of durability and flame resistance. When clothing is found to be made of inferior materials or produced in a manner that makes it combustible, the manufacturer can be held liable if the defective clothing ignites and burns its owner.
What Contributes to Flammability in Garments
Both materials and craftsmanship contribute to the durability of clothing and its ability to resist an open flame. Some materials are more flammable than others and more prone to catch on fire when subjected to intense heat or a flame. Cotton, rayon and acrylic tend to be the most combustible fabrics, but the manner in which clothing is woven has been proven to reduce or increase its combustibility.
How tight the weave of the clothing is directly correlates with its resistance to flame and heavier closed weaves can make any material less prone to lighting on fire. Clothing that is poorly woven and made with finer threads is much more prone to igniting on fire and causing severe burns to the wearer. Combustibility is also affected by the design of the clothing and how loose the fit is— looser fitting clothes will ignite much more quickly than clothing that remains closer to the body.
Causes of Clothing Fires
There are multiple causes to clothing fires, but the majority of cases involve the clothing coming into direct contact with an open flame or heated appliance. Examples include the following.
- Contact with candles, incense burners or flames when tending to a fireplace.
- Clothing igniting when cigarette ash makes contact with the material. Properly made clothing should smolder in this instance rather than light ablaze.
- Fires caused by contact with the flame from a stove or kitchen appliance that produces intense heat.
- Clothing catching fire when in close proximity to a space heater.
Clothing Recalls Due to Dangerous Levels of Flammability
As mentioned previously, looser fitting clothing burns more easily— the most common types of clothes involved in clothing fires are robes, pajamas, dresses and clothing that is designed to be excessively baggy or loose fitting. Regardless of the type of clothing, the Consumer Product Safety Commission requires that all clothes sold in the United States be able to pass reasonable flammability tests. Clothing manufacturers issue recalls of defective clothing on a near consistent basis when it is found that their products ignited too quickly and caused harm to consumers.
People should not need to endure serious injuries due to clothing lighting on fire too quickly before clothing manufacturers take action. Products that are unsafe to wear should never be brought to market in the first place and it is our right as consumers to hold manufacturers liable whenever their products cause us undue bodily, emotional or mental harm. The burns left over the bodies of clothing fire victims can leave physical and emotional scars that will never heal.
If you have been injured in a fire and your clothing caught fire too easily, you may be entitled to compensation for the cost of your medical care, the pain and suffering you’ve endured and any additional expenses that you have incurred as a result such as the loss of wages or diminished quality of life. The Illinois accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers are here to help and it is our goal to make sure that you receive the care that you need as well as the compensation you are entitled to.
Contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free consultation with an attorney who can examine your case, review your legal options with you and answer any questions you may have about the legal process and how we would proceed with your case. Due to the fact that all of our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, you will never be required to provide payment unless we are able to secure compensation on your behalf.