CBS News reported on November 20, 2018, that the death toll from the Northern California Camp Fire was at 81 with heavy rains bringing the threat of mudslides to the area. Families who have already lost loved ones in the Camp Fire may now face additional life-threatening conditions.
As the number of individuals who have died in the Camp Fire continues to increase, the potential for multiple wrongful death lawsuits also increases. Mudslides could also result in wrongful death claims because the Camp Fire may have increased the risk of deadline mudslides in the area.
The Threat of Mudslides After Wildfires
Scorched and charred earth can increase the risk of flooding and mudslides after a fire. Trees and plants help stabilize the soil through their root systems. When fire damages vegetation in an area, the soil is not as stable and can easily give way when it rains. In addition, intense heat from the fire can make the soil repel water, causing the rain to wash across burned areas instead of seeping into the damaged soil.
While the rainfall extinguished most of the remnants of the Camp Fire, it also increased the risk of flash flooding and landslides in the area. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said in a news briefing that the rain was a concern because of the potential for mudflows in the area. The Camp Fire destroyed thousands of acres in Northern California, including the town of Paradise.
Residents and business owners were concerned about the potential for additional damages while evacuees camped out in the Chico Walmart parking lot were concerned with weathering the storm outdoors. Thanksgiving for many of the survivors of the Camp Fire was spent in warehouses in Chico as the rain fell outside.
Firefighters Try to Reduce the Chance of Mudslides
In addition to the heavy rains, winds also made the possibility of mudslides a very real concern for leaders and first responders. Firefighters installed straw tubes or wattles to help prevent hillsides from being washed away.
Unfortunately, the increased threat of flash flooding and landslides after a fire may continue for many years. Even when homeowners, businesses, and governments plant new vegetation in burned areas, it could take years for roots to take a strong hold in the soil to help prevent flooding and landslides.
Mud Also Makes Searching for Remains Much More Difficult
In addition to the threat of remains washing away, heavy rains turning the scorched soil into thick mud can hamper the search for human remains. The search for remains sometimes involves finding incredibly small bone fragments that can be extremely difficult to find in dry conditions and nearly impossible to spot in the mud.
In addition to all the other threats faced by survivors of the Camp Fire, officials now have evidence that some property destroyed by the fire contained “high and concerning levels” of various materials. Some of the toxic and potentially dangerous items found in the soil include dioxin, lead, arsenic, heavy metals, and other carcinogens. Radioactive ash and debris have also been located on some properties.
Fires Can Cause Deaths For Many Years After the Flames are Extinguished
The potentially life-threatening conditions from toxic soil, landslides, flash floods, mudslides, and other dangers linger for many years after a fire is contained. The individuals who lost their lives in the Camp Fire may not be the only casualties of the deadliest fire in California’s history.
The secondary dangers of the Camp Fire could also result in the deaths of other victims in the coming months. Victims may be caught in dangerous floods or mudslides. Because of the toxic materials located on some properties, some individuals may develop cancer or other life-threatening conditions.
Protecting Yourself and Your Property from Landslides and Mudslides
Sadly, many people in the area surrounding the Camp Fire will need to learn how to prepare for and survive flash floods and landslides. The federal government provides information that residents can use to protect themselves from dangerous landslides as they return to their homes or rebuild in the area.
Camp Fire Wrongful Death Claims
The Camp Fire that burned Paradise and the surrounding areas not only caused property damage and injuries, but it also took the lives of many people. Lawsuits against PG&E have already been filed seeking compensation for victims of the Camp Fire. However, in addition to the property damage claims and the injury claims, families of those who died in the fire may also have wrongful death claims against PG&E or other liable parties.
It is important for families to understand the difference in the various causes of action they might have against the party or parties responsible for the Camp Fire. A wrongful death lawsuit must be handled differently from a personal injury lawsuit for a survivor of the Camp Fire. Family members should consult with a wrongful death attorney to determine if they need to file a Camp Fire wrongful death claim immediately to protect their rights.
The Thompson Law Office is accepting cases involving Camp Fire wrongful death claims. We encourage families to call 1-650-513-6111 for a free consultation with one of our California wrongful death lawyers. A lawsuit will not bring back your loved one, but it can provide a measure of justice for your family member who died in the Camp Fire and your family who continues to grieve the loss of a loved one.
Why Should I File a Camp Fire Wrongful Death Claim After Losing a Loved One in the Northern California Fires?
It may seem futile to file a wrongful death lawsuit because a lawsuit does not undo the tragic loss your family has suffered. However, a wrongful death lawsuit does hold the party responsible for causing the fire accountable for negligence and recklessness. A lawsuit may also provide your family with compensation to pay living expenses and other necessary bills. While the money is of little comfort, you may need the funds if your loved one contributed a substantial portion of the family income before his or her death.
A wrongful death occurs when someone dies because of another party’s negligence or wrongdoing. The courts cannot bring back your loved one, and the death may not be considered a crime. Therefore, the only other option is for the courts to award a monetary judgment for the wrongful death of a family member. California’s wrongful death laws provide the legal means for a family to seek compensation and hold a party responsible when the party causes the death of a family member.
Wrongful death claims arising from wildfires can be complex and difficult to litigate. The attorneys of The Thompson Law Office have the experience handling challenging wrongful death lawsuits. We can help you hold the party responsible for your loved one’s death accountable. You can receive justice, even if justice does not ease the pain and suffering you experience after losing a family member.
You Have a Deadline to File a Camp Fire Wrongful Death Claim in California
In the majority of cases, there is a wrongful death Statute of Limitations to file a Camp Fire wrongful death claim. Family members have just two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. Two years may seem like a long time; however, it is a very short period when you are building a case to prove the elements of a wrongful death action in California. Therefore, it is best to contact a California wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to discuss your Camp Fire wrongful death claim.
Furthermore, the deadline to file a wrongful death claim may be shorter under some circumstances. For instance, if you are suing a government agency, you must file your claim with the government agency within six months after the death to preserve your right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Because facts about the fire will continue to be discovered as numerous parties investigate the Camp Fire, we urge you to contact our office now. We want to take steps to protect your right to file a Camp Fire wrongful death claim.
Can I File a Camp Fire Wrongful Death Claim if My Family Member Died in a Mudslide or Flash Flood?
Filing a Camp Fire wrongful death claim related to these events may be more complicated, but possible. As discussed above, the risk of mudslides and flash floods increase after a fire. If you can prove that the event was a direct result of the fire, you might have a wrongful death claim. However, a great deal of investigation would need to be completed before determining if the facts supported a wrongful death claim. We can discuss the facts surrounding your loved one’s death during a free consultation.
If you suspect that the death of your family member is linked to the Camp Fire in any way, it is worth your time to discuss your case with a wrongful death lawyer in Northern California. Those parties responsible for the Camp Fire and the dangers associated with the fire should be held accountable and liable for their negligent and reckless actions. Our law firm is dedicated to helping the Camp Fire victims file claims and seek compensation for their damages and losses, including the wrongful death of a loved one who died in the Camp Fire.
Is Your Family Member Still Among the Missing?
Family members who are waiting for news of their loved ones face a difficult time getting answers. Firefighters and other first responders are working diligently to search for individuals who are still missing after the Camp Fire. However, as the days and weeks pass, the hope of finding anyone alive grows slimmer. Families now wait for the phone call from the coroner telling them that their family member has been identified as one of the persons who died in the fires.
For some families, it could be months before they are notified that the remains of their loved ones have been found. In some cases, remains may never be located because of landslides, floods, or other challenges facing the search parties.
Our Camp Fire wildfire attorneys can work with families who may not yet have confirmation that their loved one’s remains have been located. We can provide answers to your questions about a Camp Fire wrongful death claim, guidance on the steps you need to take, and support as you consider your legal options for filing a wrongful death claim.
Do not allow a lack of information to stop you from seeking legal advice. The timing of your Camp Fire wrongful death claim may be dictated by numerous factors, including whether the remains of your loved one are discovered or not. Contact our office for a free consultation to determine your next steps.
Camp Fire Wrongful Death Claims Are Being Filed Against PG&E
Several wrongful death claims have already been filed against PG&E for the Camp Fire and Butte County Fires. The Thompson Law Office is accepting clients who have lost family members and want answers. Our lawyers continue to investigate the circumstances of the Camp Fire and gather evidence of PG&E’s wrongdoing in causing the fire that destroyed so many lives.
We encourage you to contact our office to talk with one of our Butte County fire attorneys. Call 1-650-513-6111 to learn more about filing a wrongful death lawsuit or a personal injury lawsuit related to the Camp Fire. If you are unsure of whether you have a claim, our no-obligation, free consultation can give you the answers you are seeking.