California has its fair share of natural disasters, whether it is a tropical storm coming across the Pacific or an overwhelming wild fire. In Los Angeles, especially, catastrophes such as earthquakes are shockingly common; more than 600 were reported in 2015. In a few short minutes, your life can be completely upended – but could a personal injury claim or insurance dispute help you put it back together?
Earthquakes and Personal Injury
Though organizations like the International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) have regulations in place that dictate how to build structures to withstand seismic activity, contractors and construction companies do not always follow them. In other cases, a building may simply be dangerously outdated. So who is responsible if a structure collapses during an earthquake?
The answer is that it depends. While buildings must be erected and updated according to seismic codes, these laws vary from state to state – and even within local jurisdictions. Building a business or dwelling is complex, and the parties involved may not focus on apparent safety issues – let alone problems like an earthquake. When confronted with a tight budget and schedule, it can be easy to overlook these issues.
- Architects and engineers. A poorly or incorrectly designed building can fail under significant seismic activity. If a negligent design contributes to a collapse, these parties may be held responsible.
- Property owners. These individuals have to keep their guests or tenants safe. This includes staying up-to-date on seismic design regulations, safeguarding the property, and maintaining earthquake insurance that provides sufficient coverage.
- Energy companies. These enterprises commonly use techniques such as fracking or drilling to harvest our planet’s natural resources. Unfortunately, this process is inherently dangerous and can set off earthquakes. There is even precedence in Oklahoma for suing an energy company for causing or contributing to an earthquake.
Earthquake researchers work to understand these natural disasters and how a building’s structure can withstand substantial tremors. In turn, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other governing bodies develop and evaluate building codes. These parties must research and comply with any changes.
Understand the Specifics of Your Case
Fighting an insurance company for a fair settlement is the most common earthquake-related litigation Californians experience. Any type of personal injury claim, however, will depend on where it took place and the building’s conditions. There are also a variety of side effects that may contribute to long-term pain and suffering and further complications, such as ongoing property damage caused by fires, natural gas leaks, and unsanitary conditions.
Slip and fall accidents and being hit by falling objects are also prolific problems related to these emergencies. Employers and property owners may not be responsible for an earthquake, but they are charged with keeping workers and occupants as safe as possible from such circumstances.
Reach Out to an Experienced Legal Team
Earthquakes may not be the first disaster you think of when it comes to personal injury law, but attorneys pursue these claims with the same relentlessness as a simple slip and fall or a catastrophic highway collision. Though negligence may not be as apparent, legal teams often employ expert witnesses and seismologists to pinpoint any hazards or violations that should have been addressed long before the disaster.
In addition to these problems, when you attempt to file an insurance claim following an earthquake, it may be denied unfairly. When this happens, working with an attorney may be the only way to recover from a serious accident. Do not stand alone against such circumstances. Contact the attorneys at Grey Law today. Get started with a free consultation, and we will carefully explain your legal options. Let us represent you with complete compassion and understanding. We are standing by to fight for your rights in California.