Wildfire Litigation Attorney
Wildfires have devastated the lives of many Californians over the past few decades. The fires have grown larger and more serious because of increasing temperatures, high winds, and dry conditions. When people are seriously injured or are killed in wildfires, it is important to determine the cause of the fire. Many of these fires have been started because of the negligent or intentional actions of people and entities. If you have suffered serious injuries and property losses in a wildfire, you should talk to an experienced fire injury attorney in San Jose about your potential options for the recovery of damages.
Wildfires in California have grown worse
According to a report in Business Insider, California wildfires have grown significantly worst in the past two decades. Out of the 10 largest wildfires that have occurred in California, nine have happened in just the last 16 years. The largest utility company in the state, Pacific Gas and Energy, has been found to be at fault in many of the wildfire cases because of faulty equipment. The company has a track record of failing to adequately repair its electrical equipment, causing many wildfires to ignite. Thousands of homes and lives have been destroyed because of the negligence of PG&E and other companies. Some individuals have also caused wildfires by starting fires despite fire hazard warnings. Some of these incidents have been sparked by cigarettes that have been discarded or illegal campfires. Others have been deliberately set.
CA combination of high winds, extreme heat, and dry conditions make California particularly at risk of devastating wildfires. According to the Insurance Information Institute, more than 2 million homes in California are estimated to be at risk of wildfires in 2019. The state is ranked first for its fire risk.
Liability for wildfires
Individuals and entities that negligently or intentionally cause wildfires can be liable to pay damages to people who are seriously injured and people who lose loved ones in the fires that result. Wildfire litigation can be very complex, making it important for victims to talk to experienced fire litigation attorneys.
The attorneys may conduct thorough investigations to identify all of the parties that contributed to the cause of the fire that caused the injuries and losses. Commonly, oil companies, electric cooperatives, and utility companies may be named as defendants to wildfire injury claims. These companies are heavily regulated and must follow certain procedures to reduce the risk of fires so that the public will be protected. Unfortunately, some companies breach their duties and fail to follow the rules and to take proactive steps to prevent fires.
Companies may be liable for their negligence and the negligence of their employees while they are working on the job. A company may be directly liable for a wildfire when it fails to inspect, maintain, and repair its equipment or when it fails to follow the fire safety laws and regulations. Companies may also be vicariously liable for the actions of their employees when their employees negligently cause wildfires while they are acting in the scope and course of their jobs. For example, if a PG&E lineman negligently starts a fire while he or she is working on a line, the company may be vicariously liable for the resulting harms that are caused to the victims.
Experienced lawyers understand how to uncover evidence that shows liability. Large companies often have teams of defense lawyers who are ready to vigorously defend against wildfire claims. This makes it very important for you to get help from an experienced attorney who understands the types of defenses that might be raised so that he or she can build a strong case to counter the arguments and to clearly show liability.
Why people should not sign anything from an insurance company
Insurance companies that represent utilities, electric cooperatives, and oil companies that have caused wildfires frequently contact the victims as soon as they are notified that the victims have suffered injuries. They might ask the victims to sign releases to allow the companies to access their medical records. People should refuse to sign medical authorizations because the companies use them to comb through the entire medical history of the victim to try to blame part of their injuries on a different incident.
Insurance companies might also try to get people to sign settlement agreements not long after they have been injured. These proposed agreements often contain unreasonably low offers of settlement. If a victim signs a settlement agreement, he or she will be foreclosed from trying to seek additional damages for his or her losses in the future.
Contact an experienced wildfire litigation attorney in San Jose
Wildfires can be devastating. If you have suffered serious injuries in a wildfire, you may have legal rights to recover damages. Contact the San Jose Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation by calling us at 408.217.1778.