California Wildfire and Public Utility Disaster Recovery and Litigation
Fighting for the rights of Californians whose lives have been devastated by wildfires and mudslides caused by negligence
$13.5 Billion Settlement with PG&E Secured for Wildfire Victims
On December 6, 2019, trial law firms McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP, Frantz Law Group, APLC and Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian helped secure a $13.5 billion settlement with Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) to compensate victims of wildfires caused by the utility company’s equipment between 2015-2018, including the Butte Fire in 2015, the Ghost Ship Fire in 2016 in Oakland, the Wine Country/North Bay Fires in 2017 and the Camp/Paradise Fire in 2018.
Know your rights when it comes to recovering from a natural disaster
When electricity, natural gas and water companies fail to meet the standards required of public utilities, they can put millions of people at risk of disasters, such as wildfires, gas leaks and floods. Moreover, these public utility companies may not inform you of their mistakes, and it’s up to you to know your legal rights. McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP’s public utility litigation lawyers understand complex local, state and federal utility regulations, and we can determine the best strategies to hold negligent public utility companies accountable.
What wildfire and mudslide victims need to know about recovering losses
If you or someone you know was a victim of a public utility accident resulting in a wildfire, mudslide or other disaster, you may be able to recover monetary compensation for:
- Personal injury
- Personal property damage
- Damage or loss of residential structures
- Cost of evacuation
- Loss of earnings
Even if you have homeowner’s insurance, it might not be enough to cover your losses. A sad fact discovered by many fire victims is that after reconstructing or repairing their property, the insurance proceeds do not fully compensate them for the damages they suffered, including the cost of rebuilding their home or replacing their personal property and landscaping. In many cases, replacement costs are two to three times greater than the amount allocated for in the insurance policy.
In addition to underinsured economic damages, claims can also be made for uninsured damages, such as the destruction of agricultural crops, vegetation and residential landscaping, which have been successfully recovered in past fire cases.
Getting justice for victims of wildfires and mudslides
Attorneys with trial law firms McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP, Frantz Law Group, APLC and Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian represent clients throughout the state to recover damages caused by wildfires, mudslides and other utility-related incidents. The trio of law firms currently represent more than 5,000 homeowners in Northern and Southern California for deaths and property loss resulting from the 2018 Montecito mudslides and the 2017-2019 Northern and Southern California fires, including 20 wrongful death claimants and:
- More than 550 Woolsey Fire victims in negligence lawsuits against SoCal Edison
- More than more than 600 Camp/Paradise Fire victims and surviving families in several negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against PG&E
- More than 300 victims of the Creek Fires in negligence lawsuits against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and the City of Los Angeles
- Residents and victims of the November 2017 Wine Country/North Bay Fires, individually known as the Tubbs, Pocket, Atlas, Nuns and Patrick fires, in negligence lawsuits against PG&E
- Residents and victims of the 2017 Thomas Fire and subsequent mudslides in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Montecito, in several lawsuits against SoCal Edison
- Victims of the Getty Fire in lawsuits against Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP)
- Families who suffered severe health issues from the 2015 SoCalGas leak in Porter Ranch
- Residents who were forced to evacuate when the Oroville spillway began to fail in 2017
Partners Matthew McNicholas and Patrick McNicholas were trusted to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee for the 2017 Thomas Fire, and Patrick was also trusted to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee for the 2017 Wine Country/North Bay Fires and the 2018 Woolsey Fire.
Have you been affected by a wildfire or other disaster caused by a public utility accident?
If you are the victim of a California wildfire, let our public utility disaster lawyers advocate for you. It is critical to understand your situation and retain highly experienced legal counsel to protect your rights and maximize your recovery. For more information and to schedule your free consultation, please call McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP at 310.474.1582 or complete our contact form today.
Frequently Asked Questions about recovering from wildfire losses
Q: How much time do I have to file a claim with my insurance company?
A: Each policy is different; you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible to confirm your policy’s requirements for claims. Keep in mind that time is of the essence. It is critical to document all your losses and file a claim with your insurance company in a timely manner. Putting off filing a claim with your insurance company could present conflicts down the road if you wish to file a lawsuit against your insurance company for appropriate compensation.
Q: How much time do I have to file a lawsuit against my insurance company to recover compensation?
A: Depending on what you’re seeking compensation for, the legal deadline can be as soon as one year after your loss; however, this deadline is often suspended/paused while your insurance claim is being processed.
Q: I’m not sure if I have a case; do I have to pay a fee just to have an attorney review my case?
A: McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP is here to fight for you. We are more than happy to review your case and answer any questions you may have, free of charge.
Q: If I do have a case, how long does it take to resolve a lawsuit? When should I expect to receive compensation?
A: Every case is different; therefore, we can’t promise a specified time frame for resolving your case. With that in mind, we estimate the time frame to be between 24 months and 28 months. Sometimes cases settle swiftly and sometimes cases take two years or longer to resolve, but regardless of the turnaround time, we fight diligently for our clients to get them the best result possible.
Q: I’m not sure I can afford to pay two years’ worth of legal fees. What are my options if my case can’t be resolved swiftly?
A: We will not charge you an hourly fee for representation, and we will not be compensated until your case is resolved and you receive monetary compensation for your loss. Additionally, we advance all costs, so you have no out-of-pocket expenses.