Northern California Wildfires

Wildfires blazed across Northern California in 2017, forcing tens of thousands of residents to evacuate their homes and their communities. Baron & Budd is investigating multiple fires, including the Atlas fire in Napa and Solano Counties, the Tubbs fire in Napa and Sonoma Counties, the Redwood Valley and Potter fires in Mendocino County, the Cascade fire in Yuba County, and the Thomas fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

More than 281,893 acres burned, leaving more than 10,000 homes, businesses, and other structures destroyed in its wake. That’s more property destroyed than the last nine years of wildfires combined.

Sadly, these fires have claimed the lives of at least 43 individuals, more than lost their lives in all wildfires over the past decade. Countless wildlife have also perished.

According to The Mercury News, San Francisco-based utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) may be linked to the cause of the Tubbs fire. As the first reports of the fires emerged, Sonoma County emergency dispatchers “received multiple calls of power lines falling down and electrical transformers exploding.” These power equipment failures raise questions about PG&E’s maintenance of the equipment in the area and potentially their failure to remove trees from power lines.

Ecolawyers at Baron & Budd’s Environmental Litigation Group are dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals who have lost their property in wildfires caused by corporate negligence. Baron & Budd is representing numerous California families in litigation resulting from these fires and previous ones, including the Chariot Wildfire and the Butte Wildfire. We stand ready to meet with families affected by the most recent California wildfires to discuss your potential legal options. For more information, call (707) 533-8128 now.

Frequent Asked Questions

What are my fire damages?

When someone is affected by a fire, there are many types of losses, including:

Property Damage

  • Homes and other structures
  • Personal property/contents of the home
  • Trees and landscaping
  • Erosion damage

Evacuation and Alternative Living Expenses

  • Hotel/food/gas during evacuation
  • Rent and additional costs for temporary living

Lost Income

  • Personal income (including loss of sick and vacation days)
  • Business income

Emotional Damages

  • Fear for safety of yourself and others
  • Mental anguish, inconvenience, disturbance, and annoyance

I have insurance: do I need a lawyer?

Insurance does not cover all losses for three main reasons:

  • Most people are underinsured.
  • Property items are depreciated by the insurance company so that the payout won’t replace the lost items.
  • Many categories of damages are outside the purview of insurance coverage completely (like emotional damages, erosion, or lost income) or mostly (like landscaping and trees).

We have successfully fought to recover money for insured homeowners to compensate them for uninsured losses, including damages related to the stress and inconvenience caused by the fire and being displaced.

I don ‘t like the idea of lawsuits/I’m not a litigious person. Why do I need an attorney?

Right now, and for the next few months, you will be dealing with all kinds of issues that are not directly related to a lawsuit. For example, handling your insurance coverage, registering with government entities, and dealing with the County for cleanup and permitting. Our group of experienced fire attorneys and staff will help you navigate these issues. You will always have access to someone who can answer your questions and offer assistance.

We DO NOT take a percentage of your recovery from insurance. We will help you with your insurance claims without taking any portion of your insurance recovery.

To receive compensation for your losses you will need an attorney to help navigate the litigation process. Unfortunately, corporations have nearly unlimited resources and fight hard to minimize payouts to anyone who suffers fire losses. We hire experts in electrical engineering, metallurgy, fire investigation, tree valuation, erosion, home building, and other areas to establish liability and prove your damages.

What if I don ‘t have insurance?

We have helped many home-owners and renters who did not have insurance at the time of the fire. If the fire was caused by someone ‘s negligent, careless, or deliberate behavior, then you are entitled to compensation whether or not you had insurance.

What if I rented my house?

Renters who lose all of their possessions in a fire typically have significant personal property losses. It is costly to replace furniture, cookware, clothing, and other items that we tend to collect over a lifetime. Renters also have intangible damages related to the stress and anguish caused by the fire and its aftermath.

What happens if my business interruption limits are reached?

Most commercial insurance policies covering business will have a component of insurance called Business Interruption Insurance or Coverage. The purpose of this type of coverage is to supplement or replace your business’ income during any downtime. Depending on your policy limits and the extent of damage to your business, these limits may be exhausted before your business may be able to get back up and running. With the help of our experts, we can assist you in ascertaining and maximizing any business interruption claims. Any losses above and beyond your coverage are those that we would try and recover from a responsible party. As with the homeowners ‘ claims, we DO NOT take a percentage of recovery of your insurance proceeds. That recovery is yours, and yours alone.

How are the attorneys paid/what is your retainer?

There is no financial obligation or risk to hiring us. We work on contingency, meaning you don ‘t pay anything unless we recover money for you. Further, we advance all costs ourselves. We will never ask you to pay money out-of-pocket to us.

Will PG&E increase rates to pay for the lawsuit?

Any rate increases must be approved by the Public Utilities Commission. We have helped defeat power company efforts to raise rates.

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