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Can I Sue for Wildfire Damage?

Posted in California,Personal Injury,Personal Injury Lawyer on November 10, 2022

Wildfires are a serious risk in California, with thousands of acres suffering from fire damage every single year. These fires destroy property, displace people from homes, and cause devastating injuries and deaths. No one deserves to recover from a wildfire alone, and depending on your situation, you may be eligible to recover compensation for your losses.

If the wildfire was caused by the negligence of another person or an entity, you could file a lawsuit against the responsible party. In this situation, it is important to enlist the help of a wildfire injury attorney who can represent your case and hold the at-fault party liable for his or her dangerous actions.

How Do Wildfires Happen?

Wildfires form when three conditions are present: oxygen, a heat source, and some sort of fuel, like trees, grass, dry brush, and buildings. When a fire starts, it begins to gain momentum and spread as it burns more fuel sources and is spread by oxygen. Combined with dry, drought-stricken conditions, wildfires can cause devastating damage to thousands of acres.

These fires can be caused by several factors, some of which are caused by humans and some of which are caused by environmental conditions. Below are some of the most common contributors to wildfires:

  • Burning debris
  • Unattended campfires
  • Fireworks
  • Electrical lines
  • Lightning
  • Discarded cigarettes
  • Motor vehicle crashes
  • Intentional arson
  • Equipment malfunctions

When Can You File a Lawsuit After a Wildfire?

If someone else’s actions caused a wildfire, you have the right to file a lawsuit against an at-fault party in California civil court. In your claim, you can recover financial compensation to pay for any property damage, medical care, lost wages, or pain and suffering related to the fire. Multiple parties could be liable for a wildfire, including electrical companies, campers, motor vehicle drivers, and other individuals or entities.

However, you will need to show that negligence caused the wildfire. There are three elements of negligence:

  • The person or entity that caused the fire had a duty of care to the plaintiff.
  • The person or entity breached that duty of care, starting the fire.
  • As a result of the breach of duty, the person or entity caused the fire and the plaintiff suffered damages as a result.

For example, say that the fire was caused by an unattended campfire. Anyone who is camping has a duty to practice fire safety and not start a fire at the campground. If a camper doesn’t properly snuff out his or her fire after camping, a single spark can cause a significant wildfire. In this situation, you could file a lawsuit against that camper.

In cases that do not involve negligence, you may protect your assets by investing in insurance coverage for wildfires. However, you will need to purchase this insurance before the wildfire occurs, or you won’t receive protection. 

Speak to a California Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you suffered property loss or burn injuries in a wildfire, you may qualify for financial compensation. In these situations, you need a lawyer who can advocate for your rights and gather enough evidence to prove the at-fault party’s liability. Contact a Bakersfield personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case and plan your next steps.