Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late: Time is Running Out for Woolsey Fire Victims to Recover on All of Their Claims from SoCal Edison
As California endures another year of destructive and devastating wildfires, many victims of the Woolsey Fire are still struggling to rebuild, repair and return to a sense of normalcy.
In November 2018, residents from Oak Park to Malibu watched helplessly as their homes and businesses burned to ashes. An investigation report from the Ventura County Fire Department revealed that Southern California Edison (SCE) was responsible for starting the fire due to faulty equipment. Many homeowners and business owners have filed civil lawsuits against the utility company.
It’s important for property owners to know, though, that the deadline to file a lawsuit for noneconomic damages against SCE is fast approaching. Although the COVID-19 pandemic delayed trials involving the Woolsey Fire lawsuits, victims should know that they will get their day in court. But the statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims – including claims for emotional distress – is two years after the incident. That means some claims may be barred after November 8, 2020. Time is, indeed, running out.
According to Cal Fire, nearly 97,000 acres were scorched by the Woolsey Fire, damaging more than 1,500 structures and claiming three lives. In December 2018, 170 homeowners and businesses whose properties were damaged or destroyed by the fire filed mass tort lawsuits against SCE. Two months later, 100 Malibu residents and business owners filed a lawsuit against SCE over its role in starting the fire. Los Angeles County also sued SCE, alleging the utility giant's equipment may have caused the fire. In October 2019, Southern California Edison admitted that its equipment was responsible for sparking the disaster.
It’s clear that the Woolsey Fire was caused by negligence on the part of Southern California Edison. If you or a loved suffered losses or damage to personal property including the stress, anxiety, and grief of dealing with the fire, you’re entitled to compensation. Homeowners insurance may not cover the full extent of the damages caused by the fire, especially not the emotional distress you may have experienced. By filing a lawsuit, you could recover damages for the loss or damage to your home, personal property, and the suffering you had to endure. However, there are strict time limits which set deadlines for when these lawsuits may be brought. Victims who wait past November 8, 2020 may lose their right to seek compensation for some of the emotional distress damages they may have suffered.
An attorney can assist you with moving forward by helping you secure any compensation you are entitled to as a result of the Woolsey Fire. Know your rights – and know the deadline.
Brian Kabateck is the founding and managing partner of the Los Angeles Law Firm Kabateck LLP which specializes in personal injury claims, disaster litigation and insurance bad faith.