San Jose Wildfire Attorney
Each year in California, thousands of wildfires are caused by the actions of people and entities. Some of these wildfires destroy homes and cause severe injuries and deaths. The Pacific Gas and Electric Company has been blamed for causing many of the most devastating wildfires over the last decade. In many cases, PG&E’s equipment has sparked wildfires that quickly spread because of the hot, dry conditions and the high winds. When you suffer injuries and property losses or lose your loved one in a wildfire, you should talk to an experienced wild fire accident lawyer in San Jose. Getting help from an experienced lawyer might allow you to recover damages to compensate you for your losses.
Increase in wildfires in California
Wildfires have increased over the past decade. For example, in 1998, less than 2 million acres burned in wildfires in the U.S. In 2018, almost 9 million acres burned. The Insurance Information Institute reports that 4.5 million homes in the U.S. are at high to extreme risk of being destroyed by wildfires in 2019.
California is ranked as the number one state for wildfire risk. In the state, more than 2 million homes are estimated to be at risk, including many in the area around San Jose. The increasing number and severity of wildfires make it important for people and companies to take precautions to prevent wildfires from starting. When companies fail to take preventative measures and cause wildfires, they may be liable to pay damages to the victims.
Liability for California wildfires
PG&E is the largest utility company in California, and it has been found to be responsible for many of the largest and most devastating wildfires in the state. When a wildfire occurs, fire investigators work to determine how the fires broke out and what caused them. PG&E’s equipment has been found to be the cause of multiple catastrophic wildfires. This year, the company has engaged in blackouts to try to prevent wildfires and warned on Oct. 22 that more blackouts might occur.
When the cause of wildfires is identified and traced back to an individual or company’s negligence or intentional conduct, the individual or entity may be liable to pay damages to every person who suffered injuries and property losses as well as to the families of people who are killed by the fires. Because of the great number of potential victims in a wildfire, PG&E and other companies that start wildfires engage in aggressive tactics to try to minimize the amounts that they might be forced to pay to the victims.
Tactics used by companies to defend against wildfire injury and death claims
Companies that cause wildfires because of their negligence and the companies that insure them engage in multiple strategies to try to reduce the amounts that they might be forced to pay to people who are injured or to families of people who are killed. One common tactic is to try to get injury victims to agree to low-ball settlement offers. In many cases, the victims will be contacted soon after they have been injured by a company or insurance representative. The representative may try to get the victim to provide a recorded statement and to sign a medical authorization to allow the insurance company to access the victim’s medical records.
The company may also send a settlement offer to the victim soon after it learns that the victim was injured in the wildfire. In many cases, these initial offers are unreasonably low and will not cover all of the losses that the victim has suffered or will suffer in the future because of his or her injuries.
Injury victims should never sign anything when they are approached by an insurance company or provided with an offer of settlement without meeting with an attorney. They should not agree to submit to a recorded interview or talk about their injuries to anyone other than their attorneys. Recorded statements are used by companies to secure statements that the companies can use against the victims in their legal claims. The companies use signed medical authorizations to comb through the victims’ entire medical records to blame part of the injuries on a different incident that might have occurred in the past. If a victim signs a settlement agreement, he or she will be barred from trying to recover more money in the future for his or her wildfire-related losses. People should politely refuse to talk about their injuries and losses with a company representative and tell the company that they want to talk to a lawyer.
Talk to an experienced wildfire litigation attorney
If you have suffered serious injuries and losses because of a wildfire, you should talk to an experienced wild fire accident lawyer in San Jose. We have recovered damages in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for victims, and understand how to recover the compensation to which you should be entitled. Contact us today by calling 408.217.1778.