The Maui wildfires are the deadliest in more than a century. Search and recovery efforts continue and are likely to bring more grim news to the people of Hawaii.
It was entirely preventable. The Lahaina area had long been identified as especially vulnerable to wildfires. The 2018 fires generated by Hurricane Lane proved that the area was vulnerable. Non-native grasses that were prone to wildfires were allowed to grow on the vacant parcels around Lahaina, thereby increasing the risk of wildfires and the threat posed to the people of Lahaina.
Prior to August 8, 2023, Hurricane Dora was traveling a predicted path hundreds of miles from Hawaii. However, because of weather conditions to the north of Hawaii, it was well known that Dora would cause Maui and Lahaina to experience strong winds and wind gusts. By August 8, 2023, it was well-known that red flag wind warnings had been posted for the island of Maui, and specifically Lahaina, and it was widely known that the conditions were ripe for wildfires.
Hawaiian Electric knew all this and yet allowed the power lines to remain energized and become a source and contributor to the deadly and devastating wildfire.
Again, it was all entirely preventable.
During this difficult time, organizations, government officials, and community members have all banded together in an effort to help those struggling by providing food, water, shelter, and other resources. There are currently several efforts being made to provide funds and other resources to residents and family members affected by the Maui wildfires and Lahaina wildfire deaths and damages. These include:
In addition to these resources, those personally affected by deadly wildfires should initiate claims through their insurance companies to recover further financial resources that they need. If you have further questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to our Maui wildfire claims lawyers for guidance.
Homeowners or renters’ insurance may cover some property damage losses. However, claims for injury, wrongful death, financial losses, and claims not covered by insurance will require prosecution of claims against identified wrongdoers.
Property Damage Claims: These claims involve seeking compensation for damage or destruction of personal belongings, homes, buildings, and other property as a result of the Hawaii wildfires. Property owners may file claims with their insurance companies for covered losses and pursue legal action against the wrongdoers for those losses that are not covered by insurance.
Personal Injury Claims: Individuals who have sustained injuries, whether physical or mental, are entitled to make claims against parties responsible for the fire’s ignition or entities that did not take proper precautions to prevent its spread. These claims provide financial relief for past and future fear, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, lost income and diminished earning capacity, future medical expenses, and all injuries and damages caused by the wildfire.
Wrongful Death Claims: If you have lost a loved one in the Maui wildfire, please accept our condolences for your loss.
Losing a loved one is not something you can ever really prepare for, and it only makes it worse when the loss occurs in the midst of a terrifying wildfire. The mental and emotional pain the people of Lahaina and Maui are already suffering is far-reaching and deeply heartbreaking. When one of us suffers, we all must come together to grieve.
As we begin to pick the pieces up and move forward, bereaved families should be aware that Hawaii law allows the estate of a person who was killed in this preventable tragedy to make a claim for: conscious pain and suffering, fear of death, loss of enjoyment of life and the lost wages and income that would have been earned by the deceased. Some family members, including children and parents, and those who were dependent upon the person who was killed may make claims for their losses, including the love, affection, care, comfort, and guidance of their loved one.
If it is proven that the wrongdoers acted with gross negligence or conscious disregard for the safety of others, punitive damages may be assessed.
Additionally, holding negligent parties accountable helps in preventing similar tragedies from occurring in the future. If you have any questions about your right to file a Maui wildfire claim or a wrongful death lawsuit after enduring the loss of a loved one, we encourage you to reach out to our team for guidance.
Seeing an entire town get reduced to ashes is beyond heartbreaking. This is a grim reality we are all now facing. Nevertheless, we are strong, and we will get through this. We want you to know that Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner stands with you as we all go through the grieving and rebuilding process. Although local recovery efforts are already in full swing, it may take some time for all rescue efforts to be complete and for the full spectrum of damages to be understood.
If you have suffered losses or injuries due to the wildfires and you are interested in filing a Maui wildfire damage claim, we may be able to help. First, you must be able to prove liability. This can be a complex process. However, there are a few steps that you will need to take to provide yourself with the best chance of proving your case and recovering your damages. These steps include:
If you have been affected by the Maui wildfires, there is a good chance that you may have several questions about wildfire claims. Here is a compilation of some of the most common questions being asked by victims and families right now.
A wildfire claim is a lawsuit filed in civil court in the State of Hawaii pertaining to the damages that a person suffered as a result of a wildfire. This type of legal action is aimed to help the claimant recover compensation or make a financial recovery for any losses, damages, injuries, or negative impacts that they face that were caused by the Hawaii wildfires.
In general, wildfire claims can be filed by any person or entity that suffered a loss, injury, damages, or other negative impacts caused by wildfires. To determine if you are eligible to file a Maui wildfire claim, you must have suffered some type of personal injury, property damage, or both as a result of the Hawaii wildfires. Entitled parties can include any renter, property owner, or business entity. This can include any type of damage to your land, home, or personal belongings. It can also include any physical and emotional harm brought on by the tragic event. If you are unsure of whether you have a right to pursue legal actions, you should consult with a wildfire claims lawyer right away.
Gathering evidence is crucial in supporting your Maui or Lahaina wildfire claim. You should make sure that you keep all records including video or pictures on your phone.
If you are a homeowner who was insured for this tragedy, your homeowner’s insurance should pay for the cost of replacing or rebuilding your home depending upon the terms of your insurance contract. Your insurance company should treat you fairly, understanding that you paid insurance premiums to protect yourself financially from the loss of your home. Unfortunately, some insurance companies will use this tragedy to lowball customers or to delay payment by burying homeowners in red tape and documentation demands knowing that victims are vulnerable and often without financial resources.
The extent of coverage that is provided by your insurance policy generally depends on the specific terms and conditions within. There are some policies that only cover certain types of losses while specifically excluding others, such as damage caused by smoke or even landscape restoration expenses. Reviewing your policy carefully and consulting with an attorney will help to clarify what type of coverage you can expect based on your specific circumstances.
If your insurance claim is denied or you receive insufficient compensation, you have the right to seek full compensation for your damages by filing a lawsuit or claim against the wrongdoers who created or contributed to causing this preventable tragedy. Retaining a wildfire lawyer is vitally important to protect your rights.
In Hawaii, those harmed by wildfires typically have up to two years from the date of the incident to file a claim for damages. However, there are several circumstances that can impact the amount of time that you may have to file your claim. It is best to see guidance from an attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure all your court filings happen on time.
In general, waiting is not a good choice when pursuing a legal claim.
Yes. Though it is not required, hiring an experienced attorney who has experience with complex wildfire claims will significantly increase your chances of receiving fair compensation. We can navigate complex legal processes on your behalf and seek maximum compensation for your losses.
If you have any questions about your wildfire claim that were not answered here, you can give us a call or reach out on our live chat anytime to get the answers you need.