When Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel takes on a claim, we start with an investigation. We advance those costs, as well as litigation expenses.
Our experts will conduct their own independent investigation and will, when appropriate, work with police, the U.S. Forest Service, and firefighters to determine whether PG&E started the fire and if it resulted from the utility’s negligence.
We also evaluate how you and your family were impacted by the fire. We calculate your current losses and project your future losses the fire caused. With this information, we negotiate a fair settlement with the at-fault party.
We are trial lawyers, and while we make every effort to settle cases when doing so would be in the best interests of our clients, we always prepare to go to court. We find the best way to get a case to settle is to be prepared to go to trial. Should we come to an impasse because the at-fault party refuses to pay what is fair, we can take your case to a jury and prove exactly what compensation you deserve.
When you hire us as your lawyers, you do not pay us directly. We will never send you a bill or ask you to advance any costs associated with your case. You will only pay us a percentage of what we recover for you. If we cannot secure a settlement or judgment in your favor, you will owe us nothing.
Investigating the Cause of the Dixie Wildfires
Investigators have yet to prove the cause of the Dixie Fire, but PG&E is getting attention for its alleged role in the disaster. According to The Sacramento Bee, Cal Fire is investigating whether the utility company’s equipment caused the second-largest fire in California history.
In addition, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is investigating whether PG&E complied with relevant rules and regulations in wildfires, such as the Dixie Fire.
Allegations of Late Response
A PG&E incident report shows that a worker responding to a power outage in Feather River Canyon noted from a distance an apparently blown fuse. According to the report, it took the troubleman hours to reach the site. Upon arriving, the worker noted two of three fuses blown, a tree leaning into the conductor, and a fire on the ground close to the tree’s base, the report indicates.
After the troubleman called to report the fire, his supervisor contacted 911. Cal Fire arrived and started dropping water and fire retardant and requested that PG&E de-energize another section of the area’s powerline.
According to a September 13, 2021, article in the Los Angeles Times, U.S. District Judge William Alsup questioned why, given the area’s high risk of fire, the worker did not think to cut off the power to the line sooner. Alsup suggested that the tree could have caused a ground fault and ignited it with a live flow of electricity.
The article reports that, allegedly, nearly 10 hours had passed before PG&E acted on the first sign of trouble on July 13, 2021.
A Catastrophic Combination of Variables
PG&E already faces criminal charges for its alleged role in a 2019 wildfire that consumed 78,000 acres in Northern California, according to Bloomberg. The news outlet reports that an increasingly warmer and drier California climate has repeatedly combined with PG&E’s equipment to spark a series of deadly wildfires.
The National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s (NWCG) Guide to Wildland Fire Origin and Cause Determination states that “powerlines are an ignition source that can lead to major fires, as many of the conditions that contribute to system faults and failures coincide with extreme fire behavior.”
According to the NWCG guide, powerline ignition factors include equipment failure, contact with vegetation, high winds, or human/animal contact. It further states that “Most wildland fire investigators will be dealing with transmission, distribution, or service lines.”
We Are Dedicated to Finding Evidence
Our firm is closely monitoring the investigation into the cause of the Dixie Fire. Our team of investigators will look for solid evidence that points to the party whose negligence caused this disaster. Only with compelling evidence can we present the damages suffered by so many homeowners and business owners and fight to get them the compensation they deserve.
Uncovering Evidence to Show Negligence
Our California wildlife lawyers know the stringent evidentiary requirements for recovering damages from a utility company after a wildfire.
If investigators name PG&E as an at-fault party for the Dixie Fire, we must show:
- The fire resulted from the company’s equipment.
- The company’s actions or failure to act prompted the fire.
- The company acted negligently or somehow broke the law.
Claims of Negligence in Existing Lawsuits
To date, our team has filed two lawsuits in Superior Court in Shasta County and San Francisco (where PG&E is headquartered) on behalf of 200 California residents.
The complaints accuse the utility company of failing to anticipate the risks that dry vegetation posed to surrounding equipment. Both complaints allege that “PG&E negligently, recklessly, and wantonly failed to maintain and operate the electrical equipment in its utility infrastructure.”
Our Firm Offers a Strong Track Record of Proving Negligence
When enlisting our help with a wildfire lawsuit, our clients will enjoy the confidence that comes from our 40 years of experience. Our lawyers know not only the laws that govern a case like this, but we also know the local culture, climate, and players—including courts, police, and e expert witnesses—who local juries will respect and trust.
Investigating Losses of Profit or Income
If investigators find PG&E liable for the Dixie Fire, the company would have to pay victims for any losses they experienced due to the utility’s negligence.
To establish what this could mean financially for PG&E, the utility company recently advised investors that it could face over $600 million in damages from the 2019 Kincade Fire and the 2020 Zogg Fire, according to MarketWatch. To date, PG&E has paid $43 million to local government agencies for the cost burdens of these two disasters.
As for the Dixie Fire, the full extent of damages suffered by residents and businesses in the affected areas is yet unknown, butthe following helps paint a picture of what we might expect.
Loss of Income
By August 9, 2021, the fire forced more than 9,500 evacuations throughout Plumas, Butte, Lassen, and Tehama Counties, according to CNN.
Regardless of whether their homes suffered damage, many who left likely suffered income losses due to displacement and an inability to work. These victims could recover these wage losses from PG&E if the utility company is found liable.
Business Interruption and Damage to Business Property
Although businesses could not recover losses felt solely from customers’ evacuations, they may be able torecover expenses for business interruption due to a proprietor’s mandatory evacuation. Business owners whose buildings suffered fire damage could also recover property damages.
Damage to Homes
As of September 12, 2021, CBS 13 Sacramento reported that the Dixie Fire had destroyed more than 1,300 structures, including at least 688 homes. Our wildfire lawyers will seek compensation for individuals who lost their homes or suffered damage.
Damage to Your Ranch Lands or Equipment
CBS also reported that by September 12, 2021, the Dixie Fire had burned over 960,000 acres. Yahoo News published video of Five Dot Ranch, spotlighting widespread damage to the land.
According to the video write-up, the ranch posted a statement on Instagram: “[W]e are saddened to see most of our remaining feed and fence lines turned to ash. Already, we have been faced with drastic feed shortages due to the drought, so the loss of this additional feed is utterly heartbreaking.”
Our California wildfire attorneys can file claims to recover losses from damaged ranch lands and damaged equipment to help ranchers get back on their feet.
The trauma of experiencing a wildfire can create substantial emotional distress for survivors, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Victims might find themselves struggling with persistent worry, difficulty sleeping, and profuse anxiety. This very real loss, although not as tangible and quantifiable as damaged property, still merits compensation. Our Dixie wildfire lawyers have experts who can advise us about the extent of Dixie Fire survivors’ emotional damages, and we will fight to recover these damages for our clients.
Wildfires like the Dixie Fire can cause a broad range of injuries that go well beyond first-, second-, and third-degree burns. Many injuries stem not from the fire itself, but from the toxic smoke the fire generates. Fire-related injuries could also occur as victims try to escape the danger. These injuries range from cuts and scrapes to broken bones and traumatic brain injuries.
When our wildfire lawyers assess damages from your fire-related injuries, we look far beyond the medical expenses you had to pay thus far. We will consult with medical experts who can help us calculate the likely medical costs for ongoing and future treatments, as well as necessities such as mobility devices, home modifications, and replacement services.
California saw 203 fire-related deaths in 2017, according to the National Fire Protection Association. As Stanford Children’s Health reports, the majority of deaths from fires result from smoke inhalation, as fires produce toxic gases.
If the Dixie Fire caused the death of a loved one, and investigators find PG&E liable for the fire, you may pursue a wrongful death action against the utility company. Our Dixie Fire attorneys can represent you in this legal action. We will handle this legal action with dignity and compassion.
Negotiating With the At-Fault Party and/or Their Insurance Company
. If investigators find PG&E liable for damages from the fire, the utility company would have access to a $21 billion wildfire fund—part of legislation that California lawmakers passed in July 2021 as the state braced for another wildfire season.
Although PG&E declared bankruptcy as it struggled with liabilities from prior California wildfires, the company announced it would initially kick in $4.8 billion to the fund. Edison International and Sempra Energy, also investor-owned utilities, committed $2.4 billion and $450 million, respectively, to the fund, according to Insurance Journal.
Representing Dixie Fire Clients at Trial
Many personal injury firms work as settlement mills. They operate with a volume-based business model that involves quickly settling each case and swiftly moving on to the next.
This is not how our firm operates. While money can never undo the harm caused by another’s negligence, we believe we owe it to each of our clients to do our best to “make them whole” and we fight to make this happen.
Our abilities in the courtroom show in the results we achieve on behalf of our clients:
- $600 million recovered thus far
- 98 percent success rate on cases we have taken to trial
In further credit to our firm, we have obtained the largest single-plaintiff jury verdicts in the history of Shasta County and Humboldt County.
When it comes to recovering your damages from the Dixie Fire, you will not be a member of a class-action lawsuit. Rather, we will handle your claim individually. . Strongly consider the benefit of having an attorney by your side who has proven their desire and ability to get clients awarded the true value of their cases.