Wildfire litigation attorney in San Diego
Every year in California, wildfires break out and destroy thousands of homes and burn substantial acreage in the state. Some wildfires in California also cause injuries and deaths. While some wildfires occur because of weather events such as lightning strikes, others are caused by negligent or intentional acts. If you have been injured and have lost property in a wildfire, you should talk to an experienced lawyer about wild fire litigation in San Diego. An attorney may understand how to navigate the complexities of the wildfire claims process to help you to recover maximum compensation for your losses.
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Increasing problem of wildfires in California
Because of its mix of strong winds, heat, and dry conditions, California has always been at risk of wildfires. However, they have become worse in the past two decades. Business Insider reports that nine out of the state’s 10 biggest wildfires have happened in the last 16 years. The Insurance Information Institute reports that four of the 10 largest wildfires in California were caused by powerlines or electrical issues, two were caused by people, and the cause of the remaining fires are still under investigation. The deadliest fire was the Camp Fire in 2018, which killed 85 people and injured many others. Its cause is still under investigation, but PG&E is thought to be at fault.
Liability for wildfire injuries
When a wildfire is caused by the careless acts or negligent omissions of people or companies, injured victims may be able to recover compensation by filing lawsuits against everyone that contributed to the wildfire’s spread. Some wildfires are caused by negligent maintenance of the equipment of utilities like San Diego Gas & Electric, PG&E, oil companies, and others that leads to sparks that start wildfires. People cause some wildfires by doing things such as discarding cigarettes that are still lit, leaving campfires unattended, burning debris, and arson.
In 2016, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that required the big three utilities in California, including SDG&E, PG&E, and Southern California Edison to file detailed plans for wildfire mitigation each year. This law was meant to reduce the risk of wildfires started by the companies’ equipment. Under the law, The California Public Utilities Commission was supposed to review and audit the annual plans submitted by the utilities and ensure that the companies were adhering to them. Despite the law, CPUC had not issued any directives to the big three utilities to write plans, and the regulators have done very little to enforce the law. SDE&G stated in Dec. 2018 that it had written a plan that complies with the law. However, without regulators reviewing and enforcing the plan, it might not have the impact that the state’s legislators envisioned when they passed the law.
Several major fires have happened since the law was passed, including the devastating and deadly Camp Fire in November 2018. The state and the companies need to do more to prevent wildfires and the devastation that they can cause.
Identifying all of the parties that contribute to the spread of a wildfire is important. This can help plaintiffs to maximize their recovery by holding all of the responsible parties accountable for their actions.
Complexity of wildfire litigation in injury and damage claims
Wildfire litigation is very complex. In many cases, utilities will try to blame natural events such as lightning strikes or individuals for starting wildfires. An experienced lawyer understands the importance of investigating the possible sources of wildfires and how to uncover evidence that a fire was caused by a company, an individual, or multiple parties. In addition to the utilities or people who caused the wildfire, wildfire litigation may also include claims by the homeowners with their own homeowners’ insurance policies. All of the responsible parties may defend against claims to try to avoid paying them or to reduce the amounts that they will ultimately be required to pay.
When a homeowner files a claim with his or her insurance company, an investigator will be assigned to the claim. The homeowner will have to prove all of the losses that he or she is claiming. Working with an experienced attorney can help you to cut through some of the red tape involved with the process. If your home was destroyed in a fire that was caused by the negligent acts of others, you might have to deal with your homeowners’ insurance claim as well as a lawsuit against the person or company that was responsible for starting the fire.
Why companies try to settle with victims personally
When people are injured in fires, it is common for insurance companies to try to settle with them directly. The companies may make initial settlement offers to the victims. Commonly, these initial offers are much lower than they should be and are insufficient to cover the losses of the victims. When people have suffered serious injuries or have lost everything, they might feel relieved when they receive settlement offers. However, it is not a good idea to accept this initial settlement offer. Insurance companies are focused on their profits, and one way that they can protect their bottom line is to make low-ball offers to fire accident victims. It can be harmful to accept an initial offer even if you think that the amount is enough. You may find that replacing your personal and real property and paying the costs that are related to your injuries may be far more than the settlement offer. When you have been seriously injured or have lost everything in a wildfire, you need to consult with an experienced lawyer who understands the far-reaching economic and non-economic consequences of wildfires.
Get help from an experienced wildfire injury attorney
Suffering serious injuries or losing a loved one in a wildfire can permanently alter your life. It is a good idea for you to talk to an attorney who is experienced with wild fire litigation in San Diego. An attorney can review what happened and advise you of the rights and options that you have.
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