News of Chief John Davis of Nueces County Emergency Service District 3 being injured while battling a brush fire in Bishop last month reminds us that Texas wildfires destroy more than property.
It should also serve as a reminder that firefighters injured on the job can obtain workers’ compensation to cover their medical bills and loss of income while recuperating. And when authorities determine that a person or persons are responsible for a brush fire, those injured by the fire may seek restitution for property damages or personal injury they have suffered.
The personal injury attorneys of Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C., in Corpus Christi take pride in our many successes in obtaining compensation for injured clients. Through our knowledge of Texas law dedication to the unjustly injured, we have had a positive impact on the lives of thousands of clients and their families in South Texas. If you have been injured by a brush fire that was caused by negligence or misconduct, please contact us at (361) 882-4357 to discuss your legal options.
Brush Fires and Wildfires in Texas
The National Fire Protection Association says brush and forest fires account for almost one-quarter of fires handled by local municipal or county fire departments in the U.S. The term “brush fire” describes a fire involving low-growing plants, such as bushes, shrubs and grass. A brush fire or forest fire that is not under control is referred to as a “wildfire.”
Wildfire statistics published by the Insurance Information Institute show that Texas is second only to California in the estimated number of properties at extreme wildfire risk. The 717,800 properties at risk in Texas far outnumber the 371,100 in No. 3 Colorado.
According to estimates, more than 4.5 million U.S. properties are at high to extreme wildfire risk – and 2 million of them are in California.
In 2019, a total of 6,892 wildfires burned 215,493 acres in Texas, the Insurance Information Institute says. That makes Texas No. 2 in the nation behind California for number of fires and No. 5 for number of acres burned.
Wildfires affect Texas farms and ranches, damaging and destroying homes, barns, agriculture production facilities, crops and livestock, says Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension Disaster Education Network. Much of this damage can be avoided, or at least minimized, if a few precautions are taken to minimize the risk and spread of wildfires.
Nearly 85 percent of wildfires in the United States are caused by people, according to the U.S. Forest Service and the III.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says in a September 2018 report that the major causes of brush and forest fires battled by local fire departments were:
- Intentional (arson) – 19%
- Open fire for waste disposal – 14%
- Smoking materials – 10%
- Electrical power or utility line – 10%
- Garden tools or agricultural equipment – 5%
- Lightning – 4%
- Playing with heat source – 4%
- Prescribed burns – 4%
- Fireworks – 4%
- Rekindled fire – 4%
- Shop tools and industrial equipment, including torches – 3%
Brush Fire Injuries
From 2011-2015, local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 306,000 brush and forest fires per year, an average of 840 fires per day, the NFPA study says.
From 2007-2016, a total of 44 local firefighters were fatally injured as a result of brush or forest fires or prescribed fires. Just over half of the deaths occurred while fighting the fires and the others occurred while firefighters were responding to the incidents or returning to their fire station as a result of motor vehicle accidents.
Uneven surfaces, including holes in the ground, were factors in 20 percent of the injuries at brush and forest fires. Exhaustion or fatigue, including heat exhaustion, was blamed in 10 percent of injuries.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Personal injury claims are based on the legal responsibility that people have to act with reasonable safety so as not to endanger others. When someone violates that legal duty of care or acts contrary to what is reasonable and causes injuries to someone, the injured individual may seek compensation for their losses.
For example, a property owner conducting a controlled burn may be held liable if he or she fails to exercise reasonable care and the fire causes injury or damage to someone else’s property. The same standard of reasonable care and negligence would be applied to a party or parties responsible for injuries in other fires caused by accident or intention if the responsible party could be determined.
The burn injury attorneys of Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C., provide personalized legal representation for people in Corpus Christi and surrounding areas who have been injured by others’ carelessness or disregard for safety. We also help workers who have been injured on the job obtain full workers’ compensation benefits.
Our legal team would work to identify who was responsible for a brush fire that injured you and find any insurance coverage they held that could be applied to a claim. We would calculate all of your losses to ensure that our demand for compensation reflected the full extent of your burn injury losses.
In personal injury lawsuits in Texas, you may seek compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages, additional compensation to punish a defendant for outrageous behavior that led to injury.
In property damage claims, Texas requires that the person claiming loss prove that he or she has experienced financial damage and that they had no ability to prevent the damage.
Once our investigation is complete, we submit a demand letter to the insurer, which outlines our case and evidence, as well as the compensation our client is due. If we cannot negotiate a settlement acceptable to our client, we can file a lawsuit and pursue the matter in court.
Our legal team at Herrman & Herrman has more than 100 years of combined legal experience and has successfully resolved more than 20,000 cases. We are tough negotiators and skilled litigators. If you have been injured because of a brush fire in the Corpus Christi area that a person or business is responsible for, we would like to discuss a potential claim with you.
We can review the specific facts of your case, answer your questions and discuss your legal options free of charge. Call us now at (361) 882-4357.