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Wine Country Fire Loss Advice

Residents of Santa Rosa, Napa, Sonoma & Calistoga

Free Consultation

We are San Francisco personal injury attorneys whose families and friends have been affected by these fires. We also have decades of experience dealing with insurance carriers. For those who need assistance interpreting their insurance contracts, and understanding what benefits are available, and how to achieve those, we are offering free legal assistance. Please contact us at (415) 889-2919 or contact us online here and let us know that you are interested in the pro bono insurance consultation we are offering.

This consultation is free, and there is no contract whatsoever required. We are happy to talk about the basics of homeowner’s fire insurance coverage, or to review your specific policy to help you understand the limits and rights that apply. We also have a Frequently Asked Questions about fire insurance: https://www.norcalfirelawfirm.com/northern-california-fire-insurance-loss-faqs/.

We encourage all survivors of the fires to apply for FEMA relief as well.

What About Lawsuits?

Some people are asking whether there is fault on PG&E’s part for the fires. At this early stage, we are actively investigating the issue of PG&E fault. Even though weather played a role in the spread of these fires, and even though it early in the investigation, we believe it is likely that PG&E will be found liable for at least some part of the harm. For those who are interested, we are able to provide information, legal advice, and representation related to these liability issues.

Why Does Anyone Think PG&E Is At Fault?

Some people point out that weather conditions were a huge factor in the spread of the fires. However, weather alone does not explain the origin of the fires. 90% of all wildfires are caused by humans – whether arson, old cigarettes, or power lines.

Historically, a number of devastating wildfires have been found to originate from poorly maintained power lines. That is probably why Morgan Stanley and others project a 75% probability (guess) that PG&E will ultimately be found at fault for the North Bay fires.

PG&E, as a regulated utility, is charged with the responsibility for maintaining its poles, distribution lines, transformers, and recloser devices in a manner specified by the CPUC General Order 95. PG&E’s poles must be engineered and maintained in a way that allows them to carry electricity safely. They are engineered to withstand winds of 56 miles per hour (in light loading zones), multiplied by a safety factor that means they should actually withstand much higher winds. PG&E is responsible for trimming back vegetation around its lines, and looking out for dead or compromised trees that might fall on its lines. In short, power lines are dangerous and our state’s regulations require PG&E to do regular maintenance and inspections to make sure its poles and lines can operate safely even when Mother Nature acts up.

We have spearheaded past litigation against PG&E for its failures to properly maintain its equipment, and we’ve seen instances where money was siphoned away from maintenance into profits, or where PG&E allowed maintenance to fall through the cracks.

In the end, lawsuits exist to create accountability. Those responsible for causing the fires should compensate those harmed. Our firm has a long history representing clients in cases for fire-related financial loss, physical injury, and wrongful death against PG&E

A Team Of The Nation’s Leading Personal Injury Law Firms Is Working To Investigate PG&E’s Conduct

As wildfires continue to burn out of control in Northern California, four of the state’s most prestigious law firms have united to form one of the most powerful legal teams ever assembled. Their purpose is to ensure that families and businesses affected by these catastrophic fires are given a strong voice and that those responsible for their losses are held accountable.

To ensure a quality investigation and superior representation for our clients and to protect them from “scam artists” and out-of-state attorneys seeking to profit from their misery, we have formed a consortium of the best injury and property damage firms in the state to jointly prosecute actions on behalf of our clients. Our goal is to achieve individualized compensation for our clients.

The attorneys at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP, Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, and Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP have come together to prosecute claims of negligence against those who have caused this devastating loss, the deaths of over 40 people, the displacement of tens-of-thousands more, and the loss of over 5,700 homes and structures.

Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, based in San Francisco, has successfully prosecuted PG&E as a result of transformer fires, power line failures and transformer explosions. Senior partner Michael A Kelly served as lead counsel in injury lawsuits arising from a series of transformer explosions in San Francisco’s financial district, and has litigated multiple utility transmission line fire cases resulting in serious burns and amputation injuries. Partner Khaldoun Baghdadi is currently prosecuting a case against PG&E stemming from their failure to maintain proper power line clearance, and has handled a number of fire cases which resulted in catastrophic harm to people and their property. Members of the firm have both family and homes in the Sonoma and Napa Valleys. The firm has been involved in representing the citizens of those communities for more than 55 years.

Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy has won numerous multi-million dollar cases against PG&E.

Panish Shea & Boyle LLP and Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP prosecuted PG&E following the San Bruno Gas Explosion in 2010 that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes after a natural gas pipeline sent a giant plume of fire into the air. As a result of the explosion, PG&E paid in excess of $2 billion in fines and civil settlements.

Early Fire Calls Highlighted PG&E Involvement

Investigation indicates multiple calls of electric malfunctions between 9:20 PM and 11:00 PM. Review of 911 dispatch calls between 9:22 PM and 9:55 PM on the night of October 8, shows multiple calls were made to report electrical malfunction’s. At 9:24, a transformer explosion at Fulton Road and old Redwood Highway was reported. Within 5 minutes a structure fire as a result of the transformer explosion was reported. At 9:31, a structure fire on Orange Avenue in Santa Rosa was reported in connection with a tree down and the wires down. By 9:48, multiple fires had been reported. Between 9:51 PM and 10:20 PM, PG&E verified wires down in Geyserville. At 10:20, and arcing transformer was reported on Beaver Street. By 11 PM, the Nuns fire was reported. By 11 PM, the Atlas Peak fire was nearly out of control.

PG&E “outage detail reports ” for Santa Rosa tell a similar story. At 9:32 PM on October 8, field personnel found a downed power line in Santa Rosa on Redwood Highway. At 9:59 PM, a transformer overload was reported in the Santa Rosa Alta Vista neighborhood near Hillside and Opal Hill Drive. And 1:45 AM, PG&E field personnel found a downed power line in Santa Rosa at Montecito Avenue near Alta Vista Avenue.

PG&E is required to keep and maintain records of outages and malfunction calls, and a “preservation letter” has been sent on behalf of wine country fire victims to make certain that all evidence is retained and preserved according to state law requirements.

PG&E Is Already Building Its Defense

PG&E has already started making excuses and preparing its defense based upon false pretenses. For example, PG&E stated it was hurricane strength winds, and not company negligence, that led to downed power lines on October 8 when the fire began. However, Saratoga meteorologist Jan Null of Golden Gate Weather Services noted that while winds were strong, they were not “hurricane force” and had been surpassed in previous storms. A Santa Rosa weather station showed wind speeds at the time of the fire also do not support the utility company’s statement.

PG&E, the giant San-Francisco-based utility company, has a history of noncompliance with state law in failing to do its due diligence to properly maintain equipment and adequately cut back trees from existing power lines in order to reduce the potential risk of fire. That is why PG&E is once again under investigation having received a letter from the California Public Utilities Commission instructing the utility to preserve broken power poles and electrical conductors that may serve as evidence in the state’s fire investigation.

Fountaingrove Fire

Our attorneys are representing victims of the Fountaingrove fire, which moved rapidly from the east to the west, with a wall of fire destroying hundreds of homes on the night of October 8 and throughout the day on Monday, October 9. City blocks were incinerated destroying homes, furnishings, possessions, memories, vehicles, shelters, and lives. Named the Tubbs fire, the conflagration came close to destroying the Kaiser Santa Rosa medical center and it’s supply of liquid oxygen. As it was the fires destructive power burned classroom and offices at Cardinal Newman High School, Fountaingrove’s historic Round Barn built in 1899, the Hidden Valley satellite elementary school, and scorched a portion of the Luther Burbank Center for the arts.

Coffey Park Fire

In Coffey Park entire city blocks were claimed by fire, displacing thousands of people and destroying more than 1,000 homes. We are investigating on behalf of victims who lost their homes and property as a result of the fire. The devastation was so complete that little was left. The flames had come from the hills and crossed six lanes of highway 101, burning homes from a few blocks north of Piner Road almost to Dennis Lane on the northern edge of the city. Seven deaths were initially reported in northern Santa Rosa from the Tubbs fire.

We are working with experts in the fields of electrical engineering, fire mapping, insurance claims practices, building construction, public adjusting and appraisal to assist Santa Rosa Fire victims.

Do Not Fall Prey To Out of State Advertising Lawyers or “Claims Adjusting” Scams

Reports of unscrupulous people posing as wildfire experts or claims adjusting specialists have surfaced in Santa Rosa, Napa, Sonoma and Calistoga. Do not fall victim to scams perpetrated by out of state lawyers advertising on television or radio.

Do your homework!

  1. Check with the State Bar of California.
  2. Ask for references from Northern California lawyers and judges.
  3. Check our YELP reviews

Our team of attorneys holds the highest ethical and professional ratings. As a Northern California law firm with roots both in the Bay Area and in the wine country, we are committed to obtaining justice for our fellow citizens who have been displaced, injured, and sustained financial harms and damages which insurance will not protect against.

Our lawyers are prepared to represent all such clients on a contingency fee basis, and to provide no fee-no obligation counseling to the victims in Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Napa, Calistoga, and other affected communities. Our firm is rated top tier by Best Lawyers in America and our principals are recognized among the leading lawyers in the State of California. Our history of satisfies clients speaks for itself. Our firm brings extensive experience and resources to your case. We a work with local and national experts to conduct a thorough investigation designed to establish liability.

We are also committed to helping those fire victims who do have insurance but whose insurance companies are unwilling to deal fairly with them.

Trusted and Experienced Legal Representation For Burn Victims

These deadly fires have caused billions of dollars in uninsured property losses, untold physical injuries, and as many as 50 deaths. More than 20 death occurred in the city of Santa Rosa, and more than 15% of all habitable homes in Santa Rosa have been destroyed.

Our partners have led litigations against PG&E relating to his failure to properly maintain and monitor its transmission lines, poles and transformers. Our Santa Rosa fire loss and burn injury attorneys recognize that no amount of money can reverse the devastating emotional effects of this tragedy. However, adequate financial compensation is the right of everyone who suffers an injury because of someone else’s fault, and we are committed to fighting for you to recover every dollar you are entitled to receive under the law.

Damages in Burn Injury, Wrongful Death and Property Loss Claims

Economic damages are often referred to as “out of pocket” expenses. This is somewhat misleading because many types of economic damages are recoverable so long as payment has been made, or will need to be made because of the injury or loss suffered. Common types of economic damages are as follows:

  • Past medical bills
  • Future medical expenses
  • Past wage loss
  • Future wage loss
  • Attendant care costs
  • Vocational rehabilitation costs

For business owners suffering property and business losses, economic damages include relocation and temporary living expenses for your business, costs of repair and reconstruction, lost business income and profits data loss expenses and other financial costs.Homeowners economic losses include the cost of new homes and relocation expense, permits and debris removal, landscape reconstruction, temporary substitute housing, repair and replacement of damaged person property, clothing, appliances, furnishings, as well as miscellaneous expenses.

EMOTIONAL DISTRESS DAMAGES

Noneconomic damages cover all the damages that cannot be attributed to a bill or expense. Examples of areas of noneconomic damages typically claimed in burn cases are as follows:

  • Severe emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Scarring
  • Loss of love, care and companionship of surviving heirs

Trust Your Case to Our Experienced Legal Team

Contact Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney experienced in electrically caused fire losses and burn injury litigation.

Do Not Lose Your Ability To Seek Compensation: It is important to consult with a fire loss/burn injury lawyer as soon as possible after an injury so that investigation and documentation of losses can begin immediately. There are statutes of limitation that dictate how long after an injury you must bring a claim.

If a deadline is missed, you will not be able to seek compensation.

Get The Answers You Need From A Firm You Trust

At the wine country fire loss burn injury law firm of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, we have the experience needed to investigate and try electrically triggered wild land and urban grass fires. Don’t trust your legal rights to someone from out of town or advertising on TV. We are local, with roots in the North bay, we have homes and property in Napa and Sonoma, and we have the highest ethical and legal ratings from the top rated services including best lawyers in America etc. etc.

We are representing fire victims who have suffered loss from the Silverado fires, Tubbs fire, Atlas fire, Partrick Fire, Nuns fire, Calistoga fires, Napa fires, Lovall Valley Road fire, Glenn Ellen fires, Eastside fire, Highway 12 fire and winery fires.

If you or a loved one has lost your home or business, been burned or suffered loss of life, talk to a lawyer who understands how this tragedy happened and how the damage, losses, injuries and destruction have affected your life.

Contact us online or call our firm at (415) 981-7210 for a free consultation with an attorney experienced in burn injury litigation.


Giving and Resources:

UndocuFund: http://undocufund.org/donate/

North Bay Fire Relief: https://www.redwoodcu.org/northbayfirerelief

Rebuild Wine Country: https://www.rebuildwinecountry.org/

Rebuild North Bay: https://www.rebuildnorthbay.org/

Salvation Army: http://deloro.salvationarmy.org/

 

NAPA

The Napa Valley Community Foundation: click here.

American Red Cross Wildfire Relief Fund: click here.

 

SONOMA

Community Foundation of Sonoma: click here.

SHARE Emergency Housing: click here.

Sonoma County Animal Services: click here.

 

SANTA ROSA

You Caring – Tubbs Fire Victims: click here.

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Client Testimonials

“They held us by the hand and walked us through the entire sequence. The settlement was more than we expected. The attorneys did the best job I could ever imagine. They pulled me through this whole miserable time and stood by me.” View Testimonials >

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Reason #2

You Pay Only If We Recover Money For You. We are a 100% contingency fee firm. We charge no upfront fees or retainers for investigation or expert reviews. We advance the money to investigate, file, prosecute and where necessary, try our client's cases. We are only paid when we recover at the end of the case. No recovery, no fee.

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