Wildfire season ravages California every year. It can have devastating and deadly effects. There are essentially three things that can cause wildfires, those are people, nature, and climate change.
Most wildfires are caused by people. Acts such as leaving a campfire unattended, or carelessly discarding a lit cigarette, can start wildfires that blaze out of control.
Intentional acts of arson are also a common cause of wildfires. Arson cases can be hard to prosecute because of the need to prove both the actus reus (act of starting the fire) and the mens rea (intention to cause harm).
Drought is a well-known problem that can make large swaths of land drier and more susceptible to wildfires. Lightning is another major cause of wildfires. Typically, fires caused by lightning burn far more land than fires caused by humans.
Climate change has resulted in periods of more extreme heat. Rising temperatures have doubled the number of acres burned by wildfires since the 1980s. Global warming has also caused the planet to become drier over time, which makes it more prone to severe wildfires.
Types of Damages When Filing a Wildfire Claim
According to the U.S Fire Administration $14.8 billion was lost in 2019 due to wildfire-related destruction. There are many types of damages that may give you sufficient grounds for a wildlife claim. Here are some of the most common types of damages and losses.
Financial Loss and Property Damage
Property damage can be an immense financial loss, so it is important to be sure that your property is adequately covered by insurance, and that you are aware of what counts as property in your state.
Property damage includes damage to or the loss of:
- A home
- A structure
- A business
- Any personal property or possessions
- An item that has sentimental value
If you or a loved one suffer from a loss of income due to a wildfire, such a loss of profit or an interruption to your business, notify your insurance company.
Damage to a home can come in many forms, such as a structure in the home becoming cracked due to exposure to high heat, or smoke damaging your furniture and plants.
The state of California considers pets to be property, so if you experience the loss of a pet, or if your pet incurs injuries, the potential compensation would fall under the category of property damage.
In some cases, wildfire victims may qualify for disaster relief and loan assistance if they are struggling with mortgage payments.
Physical Injuries From Wildfires
Victims injured in a wildfire can file claims based on their physical injuries. Burns are not the only type of injury that a wildfire can cause. Here is a list of possible physical injuries:
- Severe burns
- Muscle damage
- Ligament damage
- Scarring and/or disfigurement
- Smoke-related injuries
- Respiratory system damage
- Catastrophic injuries, such as spine, spinal cord, or brain damage
- Permanent disability
- Eye injury
- Ear injury
- Explosive blast injuries
- Amputations and/or loss of limb
- Infections and other health complications
As a result of physical injuries, there are many expenses that may need to be paid, and you and your loved ones may be eligible for financial compensation.
Medical costs related to the injury may include the cost of surgery, medication, medical devices, live-in care, physical therapy, rehabilitation, specialist assistance, and scans.
Injuries that cause non-economic or intangible loss will be covered in the next section.
Pain and Suffering for Wildfire Injuries
Noneconomic damages and intangible losses are common in the wake of wildfires due to the traumatic nature of natural disasters. When you are filing a wildfire claim, you may be able to include experiences that fall under the category of pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering can be sometimes hard to prove due to their intangible nature. Conditions that may make you eligible for financial compensation include:
- Physical pain
- Nerve damage
- Chronic pain
- Permanent disability
- Impacted vision or hearing
- Emotional distress and anguish
- Stress and inconvenience
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Grief related to losses
- Diminished quality or enjoyment of life
- Depression and anxiety
- The loss of consortium
- The loss of a loved one
- The loss of a pet
If you are citing pain and suffering for you and your family in your wildfire claim, it is necessary to provide proof of pain. This proof may be obtained from:
- Testimony from a family member or a friend
- A journal recording the injuries
- Medical records
- A formal diagnosis (from a psychologist or a psychiatrist)
Wrongful Death Claims for Wildfire Victims
It can be emotionally difficult to receive financial compensation in a situation where you have lost a loved one to a wildfire. Money cannot compensate for the pain of losing a loved one. However, financial compensation can help greatly if there are debts that need to be paid.
In cases of wrongful death caused by a wildfire, you may be eligible to receive financial assistance. The list includes:
- Funeral expenses
- Lost earnings
- Lost inheritance
- Loss of spousal consortium
- Loss of value from household services
- Decedent’s property loss
- Medical expenses
How to Show Negligence and Prove Fault in Wildfire Lawsuits Against Companies
Sometimes a company may have been negligent in preventing wildfire-related damages and losses. You may be able to file a lawsuit against a company in this case.
A utility company may be responsible for the fire and may be sued if the fire resulted from an issue with the company’s equipment. Also, if the company acted carelessly or negligently, it may be at fault and a lawsuit may be appropriate.
You may also be able to file a lawsuit if the company committed a crime.
Why Must Negligence Be Proven?
In states like California where wildfire claims are frequent, a high standard of evidence is required before you can receive any compensation from a utility company. Thus, negligence needs to be proven in a fire-related lawsuit.
How Can Negligence Be Proven?
To show that a particular party was negligent and that there is a basis for a lawsuit, sufficient evidence needs to be obtained. Expert investigators are typically necessary, and state or local laws may influence how the lawsuit will proceed.
Expert witnesses and evidence gathered by the police can help significantly with building a successful case. Hiring an experienced attorney may also be necessary if you are suing a company. Lawsuits can be difficult to win in these cases because they may result in large payouts that the companies will not want to pay.
How to File a Wildfire Damage Claim
A wildfire can cause a distressing and overwhelming chain of events. The process of filing an after-fire damage claim may be confusing. Below are listed some steps you may take.
Filing a Property Damage Claim
A homeowner’s insurance policy may cover both dwelling and personal property, but this depends upon where you live. In the case of a wildfire, you may be able to file a property damage claim with your homeowner’s insurance carrier.
When doing so, you will need to have a home inspection performed by a qualified inspector. A second opinion may also be recommended if you want to ensure that the assessment is accurate.
Filing an Intangible Loss or Non-Economic Claim
Any non-economic or intangible losses you and your loved ones have experienced may give you grounds for a wildfire lawsuit. An attorney may be able to help you pursue financial compensation to mitigate the stress and expenses that are associated with the wildfire.
In states like California that have a wildfire season every year, be aware that companies are well-prepared to protect themselves in the event of any wildfire-related lawsuits.
Your Next Step – How to File a Wildfire Lawsuit for Damages?
If you are suffering because of losses incurred in a wildfire and are worried about whether you can receive financial compensation, feel free to consult with our team at Power Trial Lawyers.
Let us help you obtain financial compensation so that you can focus on getting your life back in order. Call us today at (844) 844-POWER.
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