Wildfire accident attorney in San Diego
The risk of wildfires has increased in the past few decades. According to the Insurance Information Institute, California has the greatest danger of wildfires in the U.S. with more than 2 million homes at risk in 2019. Fires in the state have grown larger in the past two decades. According to Business Insider, nine of the 10 largest fires in California’s history have happened in the last 16 years. Wildfires have become worse across the U.S. In 2018 alone, an estimated 8.8 million acres were burned. Because of the great risk of wildfires, people and companies must take steps to prevent them from starting. Utilities, oil companies, and electric cooperatives are heavily regulated and have many rules that they must follow to prevent wildfires. Unfortunately, companies and their employees sometimes fail to comply with the regulations or cause wildfires through acts of negligence. Individuals likewise may cause wildfires by engaging in careless behavior. When wildfires are caused by negligent actions, the victims may sue to recover damages for their losses.
Determining liability for wildfire accidents
Determining liability in a wildfire accident is crucial. To recover compensation to pay for all of your losses, you must identify all of the parties that contributed to the cause of the wildfire. Experienced lawyers may engage in extensive investigations to identify what happened and who might be responsible for a wildfire. When the cause can be traced to the negligent acts or omissions of a company or individual, the injured victim may be able to hold the defendants accountable for their actions.
California has contributory and comparative negligence laws. Under these laws, each of the responsible parties will be allocated a percentage of fault by a jury. The defendants will then be responsible for paying damages according to the percentage that has been assigned to them. If you fail to name a party that was partly responsible for the wildfire and your injuries, you will not be able to recover the percentage of damages attributable to that party. For example, if you are awarded $5 million by a jury, the jury might find that PG&E was 80% to blame and that a different company contributed 20% of the fault. However, if you didn’t name the second company as a defendant, your recoverable damages would be reduced by 20% since you failed to name the second defendant.
Insurance company tactics
Insurance companies are in the business of making money, and they engage in strategies to try to reduce their losses following wildfires. Utility companies like PG&E likewise engage in different tactics to reduce or avoid liability. One strategy that is frequently used is to try to get an injured accident victim or the family of a deceased victim to agree to accept an unreasonably low settlement amount. Companies might approach victims and families not long after their accidents have occurred to make offers. They might make low-ball offers in the hope that the victim or family will accept it or to make the family or victim believe that the claim is not worth as much as it is.
Another tactic is for an adjuster to try to get victims to give recorded statements and to sign medical releases. The adjuster may act as if he or she truly cares about your injuries and might tell you that the company needs you to sign a release so that they can value the cost of your injuries. You should remember that insurance adjusters are loyal to their employers. Their jobs are to minimize the amounts that their employers will have to pay for claims.
You should never sign any documents from an insurance company or agree to give a statement until you have talked to an experienced lawyer. You can politely refuse to sign the documents and to give a statement. Instead, you can retain a lawyer and allow him or her to handle the negotiations with the companies on your behalf. You can tell the insurance adjuster or company representative that you want to have a personal injury lawyer review a settlement offer and any other documents before you will sign anything.
Why get help from an experienced wild fire accident lawyer in San Diego?
When you have suffered injuries in a wildfire, the fire may have been caused by the negligent or intentional actions of others. Experienced wildfire litigation attorneys understand how these cases are investigated and how to determine whether the fires were caused by negligence instead of a natural event such as a lightning strike. Experienced lawyers also know how to negotiate with insurance companies, utilities, and other companies that are at fault in the cause of the wildfire. These entities commonly have teams of defense attorneys who are ready to aggressively litigate against claims. By hiring a lawyer, you will be on more even footing when you try to handle your claim.
An attorney can handle a wildfire accident claim for you so that you can concentrate on recovering from your injuries. This can help to relieve some of the stress that you might experience. Working with a lawyer might also help you to recover much more money than you might be able to recover on your own. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.