Utility allegedly responsible for the deadliest week of wildfires in California history

PG&E Faces Lawsuits for Burn Injuries and More

Northern California was recently plagued by a group of wildfires that caused an estimated $3 billion in damages, according to the state Insurance Commissioner. The first of the fires began on the night of October 8, and within a day the largest had burned over 20,000 acres. By October 14, a combined total of more than 210,000 acres had been burned. About 90,000 people were evacuated from their homes, 44 people were killed, and at least 185 people suffered injuries serious enough to require hospitalization.

Typically, there is no one to blame for damages associated with a wildfire, except perhaps Mother Nature. However, in this case there is reason to suspect that Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) may be responsible.

On the night the fires started, PG&E reported at least eight downed power lines due to high winds. Although the exact location of the downed lines has not been released, we do know that they were located inside or near the perimeter of the fires. Cal Fire has taken possession of tree limbs and damaged electrical equipment from the incident sites as part of their investigation into the cause of the fires.

A number of lawsuits have already been filed against PG&E on the behalf of more than 50 plaintiffs, alleging that the power lines went down and sparked the fires because the company had been negligent in the inspection and maintenance of nearby trees and vegetation.

Though the investigation into the fires is still ongoing, the allegations against PG&E aren’t coming out of thin air. According to an attorney representing victims of a previous fire, PG&E has a history of fudging compliance metrics: when the data showed insufficient vegetation removal around a fire, the company would expand the sample size, including more and more removed trees until the numbers passed the compliance review.

The plaintiffs in the new lawsuits allege that PG&E should have been especially proactive about vegetation inspection and maintenance this fall because the danger of fire was reasonably foreseeable given the “extended drought, high temperature, low humidity, tinder-like dryness of vegetation, and windy conditions.”

If PG&E’s negligence did indeed spark the fires, PG&E caused a hellish ordeal for many families who had to evacuate their homes. For example, Santa Rosa couple Ulla and Lars Tandrup suffered severe burn injuries as they were forced to flee through the fire on foot in their pajamas, which caught on fire. The lawsuits filed against PG&E are seeking a variety of damages including:

  • wrongful death
  • personal injuries
  • damage to or destruction of property
  • loss of cherished possessions
  • medical bills
  • evacuation expenses
  • lost wages

These lawsuits serve as an important reminder that so-called “natural disasters” can sometimes be traced back to human negligence rather than an “act of God.” If you have been injured in any kind of accident that you suspect was caused by someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation. The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker is here to help you get it. Call us at 800-333-0000 for a free initial consultation.

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