Environmental Injury

How to File a Personal Injury Claim After a Wildfire

by Staff Blogger | September 4th, 2023

From devouring vast stretches of pristine wilderness to ravaging homes and properties, wildfires are catastrophic events that leave behind devastation and heartache. Beyond the visible destruction, wildfires can leave victims with physical injuries, psychological trauma, and substantial financial losses.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the U.S. experienced 68,988 wildfires in 2022, which destroyed over 7,500,000 acres of land. California saw 7,477 wildfires that year, with 331,360 acres burned, 9 civilian fatalities, and 876 structures damaged.

If you sustained personal injuries in a wildfire, you may have legal options for seeking compensation. Whether your injuries resulted from negligence or inadequate emergency response, you can work with a California wildfire liability lawyer to file a personal injury claim for a fair settlement.

Ensuring Personal Safety and Seeking Medical Attention

Whether you find yourself caught in the path of a wildfire or are evacuating from an affected area, you should always follow safety protocols and seek immediate medical attention. The following steps can help you get to safety, receive treatment, and document your injuries for potential legal actions.

  • Follow evacuation orders: Follow any evacuation directives from authorities. Your safety is critical, and moving to a designated safe location will help prevent further harm.
  • Create a clear exit path: Maintain awareness of multiple escape routes and create a clear path to safety. Be prepared to quickly move if conditions change or worsen.
  • Prioritize immediate care: If injured, seek immediate medical treatment, even if injuries seem minor. Smoke inhalation can cause life-threatening complications and may not be apparent immediately. Prompt attention safeguards your health and establishes a medical record of your injuries.
  • Follow prescribed treatment plans: Adhere to your doctor’s treatment plans and attend follow-up appointments. This can help document the extent of your injuries and prove their lasting impact on your life.

Documenting Damages and Losses from the Wildfire

The process of recovering and seeking compensation for damages and losses can be complex. By capturing detailed photographs of the wildfire’s damage, injuries, and aftermath, you can provide evidence to support your claim and increase the chances of receiving restitution.

  • Capturing photographs of damage: Focus on capturing clear and comprehensive pictures highlighting the destruction’s extent. Photograph property damage, landscapes, personal belongings, utility damage, and date and time evidence.
  • Documenting injuries: Injuries sustained during a wildfire are crucial evidence for your personal injury claim. In addition to photographs, keep records of medical documentation such as bills, medical reports, and medical records that detail the extent of your injuries.
  • Capturing the aftermath of the wildfire: The aftermath can be a powerful testament to the extent of the disaster and its impact on the community. Check for environmental damage such as burn scars on the landscape, soil erosion, loss of wildlife habitats, and pollution. Document these events with videos and photographs.

Gathering Evidence to Support the Claim

When filing a personal injury claim after a wildfire, the strength of your case relies heavily on the evidence you present to support your allegations. Solid evidence can establish liability, demonstrate the extent of damages, and increase the likelihood of a successful claim.

  • Eyewitness testimonies: Eyewitness accounts can corroborate your version of events and add credibility to your claim. Seek statements from individuals who witnessed the wildfire’s ignition, spread, or contributing factors. Eyewitnesses may include neighbors, passersby, emergency responders, or others present during the incident. Record their statements promptly, as memories can fade with time.
  • Expert opinion: Expert testimony can provide authoritative insights into the cause and effects of the wildfire. Professionals, such as fire investigators, environmental experts, or meteorologists, can analyze the wildfire’s circumstances and offer objective opinions on its origin, potential negligence, or other relevant factors. Expert opinions can strengthen your claim’s validity.
  • Documentation of the cause of the wildfire: Gather official reports, news articles, or any relevant documentation that sheds light on the origin and spread of the wildfire. This documentation may include statements from fire departments, forestry agencies, or other authorities responsible for investigating wildfires.

Notifying Authorities and Filing Incident Reports

Notifying the appropriate authorities and filing incident reports is crucial in establishing an official record of the incident and ensuring the necessary actions are taken. Promptly reporting the wildfire to local fire departments and other relevant agencies like the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection documents the event and aids in investigating its cause and containment.

Notifying authorities and filing incident reports also creates an official record of the wildfire event. This documentation serves as a comprehensive account of the incident, including its location, time of occurrence, and the extent of damages. An official record is vital when seeking compensation for personal injuries and property damages, as it establishes the wildfire occurrence and its impact.

Consulting with a Wildfire Liability Attorney

Consulting with a wildfire liability attorney is crucial to navigating the legal complexities and maximizing your chances of receiving fair compensation. An experienced attorney specializing in wildfire claims can offer invaluable insights and assistance in identifying potential sources of compensation.

  • Homeowners’ insurance: One of the primary sources of compensation for property damages resulting from a wildfire is homeowners’ insurance. If you have a comprehensive insurance policy covering fire damage, you may be eligible to claim repair or replace your damaged property and belongings.
  • Government entities: If the wildfire resulted from inadequate maintenance of public lands, faulty equipment, or delayed response to the fire, you may have a valid claim against government agencies.
  • Responsible parties: If the wildfire was caused by the negligence or wrongful actions of individuals or companies, they may be liable for the damages and losses. Examples of responsible parties may include landowners, utility companies, construction crews, or individuals whose actions directly or indirectly led to the ignition and spread of the wildfire.

Contact a Lawyer You Can Trust

When facing the devastating aftermath of a wildfire, seeking compensation for personal injuries and property damages requires skilled legal representation and guidance. Our environmental injury attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers understand the challenges that wildfire victims face, and we are committed to fighting for your rights and securing the compensation you deserve.

Our experienced wildfire liability attorneys possess the knowledge and expertise needed to navigate the complexities of the legal process, identify potential sources of compensation, and build a solid case on your behalf. Contact us today to schedule a confidential, free consultation. 

How Earthquakes Can Impact Personal Injury Claims in California

by Staff Blogger | July 3rd, 2023

California experiences two to three earthquakes of a magnitude of 5.5 or above every year, damaging buildings and causing injuries. If you are hurt in an earthquake due to a property owner’s negligence, you may be able to seek compensation to help you pay for your related expenses.

At Berg Injury Lawyers, our California earthquake damage lawyers can review the circumstances of your case and help you determine if you can file for compensation for your injuries.

Earthquakes and Personal Injury Law: A Shaky Relationship

In California, a property owner isn’t liable for damages caused by natural disasters and what insurance companies call “Acts of God.” However, building owners are still responsible for ensuring the safety of their properties and taking necessary precautions to minimize the risk of harm during these events.

When a property owner fails to update their premises or install standard earthquake prevention measures, they can be liable for injuries that result. For example, in the years following the 1971 San Fernando earthquake, California passed several earthquake building codes to regulate the construction of homes and commercial buildings near active fault zones.

For instance, a property owner must post earthquake-risk notices if their building has unreinforced load-bearing masonry walls and is in Zone 4, an area prone to earthquakes. They also have five years to address the vulnerabilities in the masonry walls of their buildings.

However, many business owners fail to maintain compliance with retrofitting older structures according to seismic building codes. Code violations and poor construction can result in deaths and injuries from earthquakes.

In a 2010 appeal, building owners were found negligent in the deaths of two salespeople attempting to leave the building during an earthquake. An inspection report revealed deficiencies in the building, but the owners failed to complete seismic retrofitting before the quake.

What Are the Possible Injuries During an Earthquake?

Many people suffer severe emotional and physical injuries from earthquakes. Most injuries result from building collapses, fires, debris, and chemical spills. These injuries range from minor cuts and bruises to severe fractures, crush injuries, and burns.

Earthquake survivors may suffer from airway blockages and suffocation due to the dust and debris generated by building collapses. They may also experience post-traumatic stress syndrome and major depression from emotional distress during the earthquake.

An attorney from Berg Injury Lawyers can help establish liability if you believe a building owner’s wrongful actions caused your injuries. We can investigate building code violations and inadequate safety measures through maintenance reports and understand if their negligence contributed to your injuries. Our team can also help you explore your legal options, including filing a lawsuit against the owner.

Can You File a Claim With the Property Owner’s Earthquake Insurance Coverage?

Earthquake insurance covers repairing or rebuilding damaged structures and replacing damaged belongings resulting from earthquakes. It helps policyholders recover financially from the physical damage caused by seismic events. It also pays for additional living expenses, including temporary housing, incurred during repairs or relocation.

Earthquake insurance primarily covers property damage but does not typically cover injuries to individuals or others due to earthquakes. However, if the owner caused your injury through their negligence in caring for their building, you can file a personal injury claim against them.

Special Considerations for Earthquake-Related Injury Claims

When pursuing a personal injury claim related to an earthquake, an experienced attorney familiar with these cases assesses fault based on factors like the property owner’s lack of compliance with maintenance standards. They will also consider California’s pure comparative fault system, which assigns fault percentages to all parties involved, including the injured party.

Even if you are primarily responsible for your injuries, you are entitled to compensation caused by someone else’s negligence. For instance, if you are 20% responsible for your earthquake-related injuries, you can recover 80% of the damages.

A skilled attorney with Berg Injury Lawyers can present a strong case on your behalf. We will investigate your earthquake injuries and seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages.

Explore Compensation Options for Your Earthquake-Related Injuries

Property owners should prioritize building safety and retrofitting in case of a devastating earthquake. California earthquake damage lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers understand the impact earthquakes can have on your well-being and can help you seek damages if a negligent property owner contributed to your injuries.

We have a proven track record of successfully recovering millions of dollars for our clients over the past four decades. Contact our law office today for a free consultation and learn your rights and options after an earthquake-related personal injury.

VW Emissions Scandal May Soon Expand

by Staff Blogger | November 9th, 2015

German automaker, Volkswagen (VW), announced in September it had installed mechanisms in certain makes and models of diesel engine vehicles that were capable of cheating emissions tests. Now it seems as though the list of vehicles that are involved in the VW emissions scandal may soon expand. The California defective product lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers disclose that “defeat devices” had been installed in millions of VW vehicles, which led to plummeting values of the affected cars and trucks. The discovery unearthed evidence that shows the devices may result in excessive amounts of carbon dioxide and other harmful chemicals being released into our environment. Some individuals who purchased an affected vehicle have filed lawsuits against VW, claiming their actions left motorists driving vehicles that did not perform as advertised and resulted in financial loss. It seems as though the number of alleged victims may soon increase. Reports from Fortune announce that some six-cylinder engines may be equipped with “defeat devices,”  meaning some makes and models of Porsche and Audi vehicles may soon be involved in the VW emissions scandal. The impact of cheating emissions testing can be costly—both financially and environmentally. That’s why the California personal injury lawyers encourage anyone who owns a vehicle that has been affected by the VW emissions scandal to consider discussing your legal rights with an attorney. Doing so may be able to help protect you and your pocketbook.

California Environmental Injury Lawyers Discuss Hazards Residents Face After Wildfires

by Staff Blogger | September 22nd, 2015

In recent weeks, wildfires have ravaged Northern California, destroying homes, businesses, and land along the way. As many residents make their way back to the area after being evacuated, our California environmental injury lawyers would like to warn you of certain risks you may be facing. Inhalation of smoke is one of the greatest potential hazards in wildfire areas. Breathing in smoke that can be thick in the air can cause lung irritation and other respiratory problems. Even if there’s no smoke, what you’re breathing could be extremely harmful to your health. According to an article from NBC Bay Area News, the California Department of Health is warning residents who were evacuated from wildfire areas and are now returning to be aware of the risks breathing in ashes could have to your health. Officials say the ashes of burned structures, buildings, and products could contain harmful chemicals that could include asbestos—a substance often used in construction that can lead to the development of a deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma if inhaled. These risks have led officials to advise the public to wash ash from children, pets, toys, and homegrown foods as soon as possible. Officials are also advising against the use of leaf blowers or vacuums to remove ash, as these methods can agitate ash particles into the air where they can then be inhaled. We hope this information helps to keep you and your loved ones safe from the dangers wildfire ash and smoke can pose.

California Environmental Injury Lawyers Examine Risks of Contaminated Water

by Staff Blogger | July 27th, 2015

Water is one of our most precious resources. So when our water supply becomes contaminated with harmful bacteria or other toxins, it can cause serious harm. That’s why our California environmental injury lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers would like to help raise awareness about water contamination that was discovered in Los Altos. Reports indicate the bacteria, E. Coli, is currently present in the area’s water supply and that more than 853 residents may have been affected by its presence. E. Coli is most dangerous when it infects young children or the elderly. Some of the most common symptoms of an E. Coli infection include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and fever. According to NBC Bay Area News, Cal Water made announced the discovery yesterday and ordered anyone in the affected area to immediately halt the consumption of tap water. Officials ordered a boil advisory and suggested residents throw out any ice that was made from tap water. Furthermore, the agency announced it would reimburse any affected customer who is consuming bottled water and can supply a receipt for their purchases. Officials added that while the boil advisory is in effect for drinking water, the order is not necessary for laundry or cleaning. They also stated they would inform local residents when the water supply is safe to consume once again. At Berg Injury Lawyers, we know the risks of consuming contaminated water. That’s why our California personal injury lawyers encourage local citizens to heed all precautions that have been issued. Even when all warnings are followed, infection from contaminated water can still occur. That’s why its vital that you discuss your case with a California personal injury lawyer as soon as possible if you suffer injury or illness from drinking contaminated water.

Potential Imbalance in Pool Chemistry Sickens Dozens in California

by Staff Blogger | June 22nd, 2015

Whether it’s through the products we use or our environment, we are exposed to chemicals on a daily basis. Our California environmental injury lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers are quick to point out that it’s important to know that exposure to certain chemicals can be extremely hazardous to your health. Take the case of a potential chemical imbalance at a public swimming pool in Antioch that left dozens of people ill over the course of a week. An article from NBC Bay Area News reports the incident occurred at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 18, at the Antioch Water Park. Officials say emergency crews responded to the scene after receiving calls of a young child in respiratory distress. By the end of the day, a total of 34 people who swam in the facility’s sports pool reported feeling ill. Roughly half of those individuals were later sent to the hospital for further examination. The facility was reopened several days later after testing confirmed the park’s water was safe. At Berg Injury Lawyers, we are aware of the serious risks exposure to dangerous chemicals poses. That’s why our California personal injury lawyers would like to wish the victims of the recent accident a full and speedy recovery from their injuries. Our legal staff is also standing by to discuss your legal rights if you’ve been harmed by a toxic exposure accident. We can be reached by calling (800) 400-2374 anytime—day or night.

California Environmental Injury Lawyers Discuss Concrete Spill in Oakland Watershed

by Staff Blogger | April 13th, 2015

Considering California is currently listed as being under draught conditions, our water is one of the most precious commodities we have and it’s important that we protect it; however, some companies fail to take the precautions that are necessary to guard this natural resource, which can result in contamination, pollutants seeping into our food and water supplies, and loss of habitat for wildlife. The California environmental injury attorneys with Berg Injury Lawyers point out that one of the most recent cases of companies failing to protect our resources is that of concrete being dumped into Glen Echo Creek in Oakland. Reports indicate that as much as 12 truckloads of cement was poured into the creek late last week. Crews from the East Bay Municipal Utilities District were working to repair and replace a pipeline in the area surrounding the creek when a worker accidentally turned a valve controlling the concrete flow the wrong way, allowing the grey muck to flow into the creek. According to reports from NBC News, crews discovered a second contaminated area while working to clean up the initial spill. Officials say it could take the creek’s ecosystem as long as three years to fully recover from the spill. Our California personal injury attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers are aware of the long-term effects chemicals can have on our environment. That’s why we encourage anyone whose health or property have been affected by a careless or negligent pollution to discuss their rights with a qualified legal representative as soon as possible.

California Environmental Injury Attorneys Discuss Dangers of Fracking

by Staff Blogger | March 9th, 2015

Fracking—or hydraulic fracturing— is a method of drilling for natural gas and oil buried deep under the Earth’s surface that utilizes pumping a slurry of water and chemicals into the ground in order to break up the soil and free small pockets of fossil fuels; however, the California environmental injury attorneys with Berg Injury Lawyers point out the practice can be extremely costly—both financially and environmentally. A report from NBC Bay Area News discusses these risks in detail. Environmental disasters such as earthquakes and sinkholes, along with water and air pollution, have all been linked to the process of hydraulic fracturing. The state of California has attempted to regulate the practice by requiring wastewater from fracking operations to be tested for safety. Unfortunately, by the time these tests are conducted, the damage to the Earth and residents living near the operation has already been done. In fact, many tests have showed elevated Benzene levels in fracking wastewater samples, which can lead to cancer and other health problems. If you believe your health or land has been affected by a fracking operation, it’s important to know you have legal rights that need to be protected. At Berg Injury Lawyers, our California personal injury lawyers are here to help clarify these rights to you and answer any questions you may have. Feel free to reach out to us anytime at (800) 400-2374.

Fracking Raises Concerns Over California Environmental Injury Risks

by Staff Blogger | February 9th, 2015

The mining of oil and natural gas plays a major role in California’s economy considering our state is the third largest oil producer in our nation; however, some of the practices that are used to gain access to these fossil fuels have stirred quite a controversy. Fracking is a drilling method that requires a slurry of water, sand, and chemicals be injected deep into the Earth. This allows for easier extrication of oil or natural gas. While effective, fracking also raises serious environmental and safety concerns. Some studies have shown fracking can contaminate water and soil. Exposure to these contaminants has also been linked to cases of citizens suffering a California environmental injury. Some Californiaians are working to bring an end to fracking in our state. An article from NBC Bay Area News says thousands of protestors recently gathered in the streets of Oakland in an effort to bring awareness to the risks fracking poses to the environment and California’s citizens. Despite these protests, the governor’s office contends there is no solid evidence that shows fracking is dangerous to the environment. At Berg Injury Lawyers, we applaud those who are standing up against fracking in California. Our California personal injury lawyers would also encourage anyone who has been harmed as the result of this practice to speak with an attorney regarding your legal rights as soon as possible.

Substance Discovered in San Francisco Bay Raises of California Environmental Injury Concerns

by Staff Blogger | January 19th, 2015

When toxins are introduced into the areas where we live, breathe, eat, and drink, serious injuries can occur. That’s why the California environmental injury attorneys with Berg Injury Lawyers have become so concerned with reports that a “viscous substance” has been found in the San Francisco Bay. According to an article from NBC Bay Area news, the thick, pale gray residue was discovered on several birds along the bay’s eastern shores this past Friday evening, January 16. So far, 20 birds have died as a result of the exposure and dozens of others were exposed to the substance. While exposure to the substance has resulted in the deaths of a number of birds, it doesn’t appear to be toxic. Researchers have also concluded it is not petroleum or oil-based. Further testing will be conducted later this week. While the substance has harmed no humans, history shows that when this type of pollution occurs, it can quickly work its way up the food chain to humans through the foods they eat and other methods of exposure. An example of this is the devastating results the BP oil spill had on the fishing and shrimping industries along the Gulf Coast. That’s why the San Francisco personal injury lawyers with Berg Injury Lawyers suggest speaking with an attorney regarding your legal rights if you’ve been harmed as the result of toxic exposure. Our team of attorneys can be reached by calling (800) 400-2374 today.