Filing a Wrongful Death Claim for the Camp Fire and Butte County Fires

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Update on Camp Fire and Butte County Fires

As of December 10, 2018, three more people were identified, bringing the number of deaths attributable to the Camp Fire to 85. Three people are unaccounted for with 31 people being tentatively identified and 50 people being positively identified. Crews continue to search the charred remains for victims of the fire.

The deadliest wildfire in California history was 100 percent contained over the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend. It took firefighters 17 long days after the fire broke out to form a perimeter around the fire so that it was fully contained. Fully contained does not mean the fire was out, but firefighters had a line around the fire to prevent further spread of the flames.

In total, the Butte County fires burned over 150,000 acres in California destroying over 18,000 structures, including homes and businesses. Some survivors of the Northern California fire remain in a “tent city” located in a Walmart parking lot in Chico.

Sadly, the rains that came as a welcome relief to assist in putting out the fire also brought the potential for dangerous mudslides and flash flooding. Areas scorched by fire are more prone to landslides and flooding. The soil is unable to absorb the rainfall causing the water to runoff quickly resulting in additional problems for the Camp Fire survivors.

Dealing with the Aftermath of the Camp Fire

The Camp Fire has left thousands of people homeless and many others dealing with costly repairs from the fire damage. The town of Paradise was destroyed by the fire displacing most of its citizens. Survivors of the fire are dealing with many different challenges in addition to finding a place to live. Many of the people worked in businesses that were destroyed by the fire. Therefore, they are also searching for jobs as they live in tents, shelters, or temporary housing.

Several Camp Fire lawsuits have already been filed against PG&E alleging negligence and wrongdoing in the cause of the Camp Fire. Survivors who have not yet filed a claim against the utility company may also be seeking legal advice as they weigh their options for recovering compensation for their losses and damages.

Families who lost loved ones in the fire are dealing with the tragic loss as they attempt to recover from the devastation caused by the fires that ravaged thousands of acres in Northern California. Some families have already filed wrongful death lawsuits against PG&E. Other families are considering their options as they grieve the loss of their loved ones.

FAQs About Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit for a Camp Fire Death

It is understandable that you have many questions about filing a Camp Fire wrongful death lawsuit. Below are some of the answers to common questions about wrongful death claims in California. The lawyers of Thompson Law Office can discuss your claim in detail and answer additional questions you may have during a free consultation.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

What is a wrongful death lawsuit? When a person dies because of the misconduct or negligence of another party, family members may have a claim under California’s wrongful death laws. Because the judicial system cannot undo the terrible wrong caused by a party’s misconduct or wrongdoing, it allows family members to seek financial compensation by filing a wrongful death action.

Who Can File a Fire Camp Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Who can sue for wrongful death in California? The persons who have legal standing to file a wrongful death claim are specified by the California’s wrongful death statutes. Immediate family members can file a wrongful death claim, including the surviving spouse, domestic partner, and children. If the person did not have any immediate family, other family members who would inherit from the person’s estate might file an action for wrongful death, such as the person’s parents, siblings, and other relatives. In some cases, other individuals may also be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Determining who can file a wrongful death lawsuit may be complex. Families should consult with an attorney to determine who should be named as a party to the lawsuit.

Is There a Deadline for Filing Wrongful Death Claims Related to the Camp Fire?

The Statute of Limitations for wrongful death claims in California is typically two years from the date of death. It may be difficult to determine the exact date of death for victims of the Butte County fires. In addition, while PG&E appears to be the current defendant in the Camp Fire claims, a claim involving a government entity has a short 180-day deadline to file a claim. Therefore, we encourage family members to contact our office as soon as possible to discuss the necessary steps to protect their legal rights to file a Camp Fire wrongful death lawsuit.

What Compensation is Available in a Camp Fire Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

How much can you sue for a wrongful death in California? Family members may be entitled to compensation for several types of damages in a Camp Fire wrongful death lawsuit. Typically, California’s wrongful death laws allow compensation for:

  • Medical expenses from the date of injury until death
  • Funeral, burial, and related expenses
  • Loss of earnings and income
  • Loss of support, including shelter, food, clothing, and financial support
  • Loss of services, such as parental advice, help with household chores, etc.
  • Loss of comfort, love, companionship, affection, guidance, and moral support

Are Damages Awarded in the Wrongful Death Actions Related to the Camp Fire Taxable as Income?

Typically, awards in wrongful death actions are not taxable as income. However, we encourage families to seek advice from a tax advisor or CPA to ensure they report compensation if necessary.

What is a Survival Action?

In addition to a Camp Fire wrongful death lawsuit, you may also file a survival action if your family member survived the initial injuries from the fire but died later as a result of those injuries. A survival action is a separate action from a wrongful death claim and may entitle family members to additional compensation for the loss of a loved one.

Why Do I Need a Camp Fire Attorney to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death lawsuits are complex in any situation. However, the circumstances of the Camp Fire add unique challenges to filing a wrongful death claim. A wildfire attorney who has experience handling wildfire claims and wrongful death lawsuits understands the unique challenges and issues related to these types of wrongful death actions.

Why Should I File a Camp Fire Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

If a family member died in the Camp Fire, you are entitled to compensation for your losses. However, you must assert your claim by filing a wrongful death action naming the party or parties responsible for the fire. PG&E has already been named in several personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits related to the Camp Fire.

By filing a Camp Fire wrongful death lawsuit, you may receive compensation that can help your family as you continue to move forward with your life after a tragic loss. You also have the opportunity to hold the party responsible for your family member’s death liable in court for its negligence and wrongdoing.

What are the Elements of a Camp Fire Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

How do you prove wrongful death? When you file a wrongful death lawsuit, you must have sufficient evidence to prove all the legal elements to recover compensation for your claim. In California, the elements of a typical wrongful death suit or claim include:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased person;
  • The defendant breached the duty of care through negligence, recklessness, or other wrongful acts;
  • The breach led to the incident that resulted in the injuries that caused the person’s death; and,
  • The family members suffered losses because of the death of their loved ones;

PG&E is being blamed for the Camp Fire even though investigators continue to search for the cause of the fire. The utility company reported a power-line outage on the morning that the Camp Fire started. The problem with the power lines was in the area where the Camp Fire started. Various Camp Fire lawsuits allege that PG&E was negligent in not maintaining its equipment and failing to have or failing to follow adequate fire-prevention policies.

Proving that PG&E is responsible for the Butte County fires that destroyed Paradise and the surrounding area is a key factor in winning a Camp Fire wrongful death lawsuit. The attorneys of The Thompson Law Office are accepting clients who lost loved ones in the Camp Fire. We are investigating the cause of the fires in Northern California in relation to wrongful death claims by family members.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California

Losing a Loved One is a Very Emotional Experience, Especially When Lawmakers May Protect the Party Responsible for the Fire

We understand that you may be coping with overwhelming tasks as a survivor of the Camp Fire. If you lost a family member, you are dealing with the grief and pain of the death. You may also be experiencing anger and frustration over the fact that a large utility company that has been blamed for so many fires in California has yet again been implicated in causing another devastating wildfire.

In addition to the frustration about the cause of the wildfire, many Camp Fire victims are outraged by a new law being drafted by California lawmakers to protect the utility giant. A bill that is already signed into law allows utility companies to pass the cost of wildfires in 2017 to customers. It also covers wildfires in 2019 and beyond. However, it does not cover the 2018 wildfires.

If the new law is passed, it would specifically cover the 2018 wildfires, including the Camp Fire. There are arguments for and against the law. However, for those who have lost loved ones, the thought that a utility company could be negligent and yet pass the cost to customers for that negligence may be difficult to comprehend.

What Do I Need To Bring With Me When I Meet with an Attorney to Discuss a Camp Fire Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Our lawyers understand that many people lost everything in the Camp Fire. It is always good to bring whatever information you have available regarding your Camp Fire wrongful death lawsuit to your appointment. However, we are not concerned with documents right now. Our lawyers are more concerned with meeting with individuals and families to discuss their situation and listen to their stories.

It is important for our clients to know that we are here to provide the support they need as they seek to hold PG&E and any other parties responsible for the Camp Fire liable for damages. We are working with our clients to obtain the information and documentation needed to file a Camp Fire wrongful death lawsuit. We do not expect you to know what you need or provide all documents to our office. Our team of legal professionals will help you gather information if we cannot obtain the information without your assistance.

It is our goal to make filing a Camp Fire wrongful death lawsuit as easy for you as possible by doing all the work necessary to file the lawsuit and prepare the case for settlement or trial. We do not want you to worry about the details because that is our job. Our attorneys want you to be able to focus on your family as you continue to heal and try to move forward after this devastating loss.

The Lawyers of The Thompson Law Office Want to Help You and Your Family

Contact our office by calling 1-650-513-6111 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Camp Fire wrongful death attorneys. We want you to tell us about your family, your loved one, and what has happened to you. Our lawyers will answer your questions and provide you with an analysis of your legal options for filing a wrongful death claim related to the Butte County fires, including the Camp Fire and Paradise Fire.

By |2018-12-20T18:27:58+00:00December 11th, 2018|Wildfires & Utility Companies, Wrongful Death|

About the Author:

In 2005, Bobby graduating from New York Law School and was admitted to practice Law in New York and California. Since then, Bobby has built a successful practice in the shadow of San Francisco, San Mateo County. With the mentoring of his father Jim Thompson, a practicing lawyer in Kansas City, MO, Bobby has built a personal injury law firm that prides itself on "represents individuals harmed by the irresponsible and careless conduct of others." Bobby maintains membership in several prominent Lawyer, Attorney, and Bar Associations in California. When he is not at trial, he is volunteering pro bono legal services with the Bar Association of San Francisco.