How Long Do You Have to File a Wildfire-Related Lawsuit?

File a Wildfire-Related Lawsuit

The wildfires that swept through Lahaina and the surrounding areas of Maui last month were among the deadliest—and most destructive—wildfires in American history. The blazes destroyed hundreds of homes, forced residents to evacuate, and left the area with blackened ruins, damaged businesses, and impacted local wildlife and ecosystems. Many people who suffered losses as a result of the fires are seeking compensation for their property damages, evacuation expenses, and other financial losses. If you have been negatively impacted by the 2023 Maui fires, you may be entitled to compensation from your homeowners’ insurance and/or from the companies responsible for the disaster.

The Maui fire lawyers were fueled by dry conditions, highly combustible vegetation, and the high winds generated by Hurricane Dora. While all of these factors contributed to the fires’ spread, a fire expert on the ground in Maui has pointed to utility power lines as the most likely source of the initial spark. In fact, the Lahaina fire started near a downed line. The families of the victims are now filing lawsuits against Hawaiian Electric, accusing the company of gross negligence and putting cost-cutting ahead of consumer safety.

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In the class action filed by several families, the plaintiffs allege that HECO knew the area was at risk of wildfires and that extreme weather conditions would raise those risks. According to the complaint, HECO failed to implement Public Safety Power Shutoffs—an industry standard that California has used for years—and thereby allowed the fires to burn and cause destruction.

How Long Do You Have to File a Wildfire-Related Lawsuit?

According to the lawsuit, HECO erred by not de-energizing its power lines across Maui after receiving ominous weather reports and warnings from the National Weather Service that Hurricane Dora was bringing damaging winds that could knock down poles and lines. It also alleged that the blazes could have been prevented by HECO taking preventive measures, including de-energizing lines and clearing brush.

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The class-action lawsuit filed by the families of four victims accuses the power company of failing to heed a government directive that requires it to remove or trim brush under its power lines. The lawsuit states that this is necessary to help prevent wildfires by reducing the risk of downed lines creating dangerous embers.

Another suit was filed by the family of 79-year-old Lawrence “Buddy” Jantoc, one of 46 firefighters who died fighting the fires. It was submitted to a court in California, which has handled numerous cases against utilities for wildfire-caused damage.

The lawyers at Malama Law Group are prepared to investigate whether your losses were caused by the Maui fires and can pursue compensation on your behalf. Call us today for a free consultation and to learn more about your rights and options. Our lawyers have extensive experience in handling complex catastrophic injury and wrongful death claims. Our firm is based in Oahu and is admitted to practice in Hawaii state courts. We represent clients throughout the United States and abroad. For more information, contact us online or by phone.

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