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Pacific Gas & Electric, better known as PG&E, has caused hundreds of wildfires throughout California, including the deadliest fire in California’s history (the Camp Fire). Investigations have found PG&E to be at fault for wildfires due to carelessness, such as the failure to comply with required safety standards. If you’ve been affected by a wildfire caused by PG&E, a PG&E wildfire lawsuit attorney from Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP can help you pursue financial compensation.
Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP Leads Wildfire Lawsuits Against PG&E
Panish, Shea & Boyle LLP’s California wildfire lawyers have gone up against PG&E on behalf of many clients throughout California and won. For example, we successfully sued PG&E for the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion. We also obtained a $19.8 million jury verdict against Southern California Gas Company for a home gas explosion. Our PG&E wildfire lawsuit attorneys know how to investigate these cases, collect evidence against powerful electric companies and fight for justice – even when that means taking a case to trial.
Do You Have a Lawsuit Against PG&E?
For decades, PG&E has placed its profits over the safety of citizens, choosing to save money rather than to take measures to prevent wildfires, such as replacing old equipment. Recently, it has started to cut power to millions of Californians in bad weather to prevent powerlines from sparking. Rather than spending the money to replace old and dangerous powerlines, PG&E has opted for blackouts that further harm citizens – especially the elderly who rely on electricity for their medical devices to function.
Even if an act of God such as severe wind or lightning contributed to a wildfire, if an investigation finds evidence that PG&E could have done more to prevent the fire, PG&E may be legally responsible (liable) for your losses as a California wildfire victim. In a lawsuit based on negligence, our PG&E wildfire lawsuit lawyers will work to prove that PG&E was negligent – or failed to act in a reasonable manner – and that this is the proximate cause of your losses.
If a PG&E powerline started a wildfire on your private property – property that the utility company acquired for its own use through the principle of eminent domain – you may be eligible for fair compensation even without needing proof that PG&E is at fault. The rule of inverse condemnation allows you to file a lawsuit against a utility company or government agency that damages or decreases the value of your property while using it for economic development or public improvement. This type of case is based on the legal theory of strict liability, with no need to prove negligence. Find out if you have a case against PG&E by speaking with a qualified PG&E wildfire lawyer.
How Can an Electric Company Cause a Wildfire?
Electricity and the equipment used to transmit electricity are dangerous when used in high fire hazard conditions, such as dry weather and high wind. A single spark from a broken or faulty piece of equipment can fall into the dry vegetation below and spark a major wildfire. It is an electric company’s duty to prevent foreseeable wildfire risks, such as a tree falling on a powerline or broken jumper cables on a transmission tower casting sparks. Failing to do so is negligence.
Common examples of electric company negligence connected to California wildfires include:
- Improper powerline and power pole installation
- Lack of consistent equipment inspections
- Low-quality equipment repairs
- Failure to clear trees and vegetation surrounding power poles
- Failure to replace old or worn-down powerlines or parts
- Ignoring the need to replace wooden poles with steel towers
If a wildfire investigation finds that an electric company reasonably should have done more to prevent the fire, the company could be found liable for victims’ related losses, injuries, medical bills, wrongful deaths and more. Pacific Gas & Electric is the largest electric company not only in the state but the country, with 2.4 million power poles and a 70,000 square-mile service area in California. Unfortunately, PG&E does not prioritize safe and efficient power pole management.
PG&E Has a History of Causing Wildfires
PG&E has a long history of ignoring fire safety standards and contributing to disastrous wildfires in California. In 2018, CAL FIRE released the findings of investigations into 12 wildfires throughout Northern California that began in October 2017. They confirmed that PG&E was behind all 12 fires in Butte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma Counties. The causes of the fires – which burned at least 245,000 acres – were electric power and distribution lines, conductors, and power pole failures.
Sadly, these 12 fires are just a drop in the bucket of more than 1,500 California wildfires caused by PG&E in a three-year period alone, according to a statement from the electric company itself. California wildfires that have been connected to PG&E’s negligence include:
- 37 Fire
- Adobe Fire
- Atlas Fire
- Belridge Fire
- Blue Fire
- Butte Fire
- Camp Fire
- Cherokee Fire
- Grove Fire
- Highway Fire
- Kincade Fire
- Norrbom Fire
- Nuns Fire
- Partrick Fire
- Pocket Fire
- Pythian Fire
- Redwood Fire
- Spearhead Fire
- Sulphur Fire
- Zogg Fire
Many of these fires resulted in civilian injuries and wildfire wrongful death claims. The Camp Fire, for example, is the deadliest wildfire recorded in California’s history, taking a total of 85 lives. The cause of this fire was determined to be an electrical transmission line owned and operated by PG&E that was almost 100 years old. The average lifespan of a powerline is 65 years.
Current Fires Under Investigation
The most recent California wildfire that has been connected to PG&E is the Dixie Fire. The Dixie Fire began on July 13, 2021, along Feather River Canyon and Highway 70 in Butte County. It is the largest active fire and is on its way to becoming California’s largest wildfire in history, burning almost 920,000 acres and affecting five counties so far (according to CAL FIRE as of September 2021). While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, initial reports state that blown fuses and a tree leaning against a PG&E conductor appear to have sparked the fire.
PG&E’s Bankruptcy & the Fire Victim Trust
Due to the number of lawsuits brought against PG&E, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2019. As part of its Debtors’ Plan of Reorganization, however, it created the Fire Victim Trust, which is responsible for resolving valid claims against PG&E for California wildfires. The Trust is capable of providing financial compensation for victims’ economic and noneconomic damages connected to a wildfire despite the company’s bankruptcy.
Contact a PG&E Wildfire Lawyer in California Today
At Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP, we believe in holding PG&E accountable for its inexcusable negligence and irresponsibility. If you have been impacted by a California wildfire, contact us to discuss a potential lawsuit against PG&E during a free case consultation. You may be eligible for financial compensation despite PG&E’s bankruptcy. Our PG&E wildfire lawsuit attorneys can guide you and your family through the legal process from start to finish.