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Lahaina Maui Fire Lawyers

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.

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    The Process of Investigating a Wildfire

    Investigating wildfires is complicated and time-consuming. The investigation process requires a thorough and careful examination of all of the remaining evidence, which spans miles and includes houses, businesses, and other areas. Because each site may involve human remains, the investigation process is slow and painful. Unfortunately, the investigative process is likely to take considerable time and will inevitably frustrate those who have been impacted by this tragedy. If you are currently facing hardships as a result of the wildfires, there are some resources in place that can help. Read below to find out more.

    Maui Fire Rescue Resources and Efforts to Help

    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:

    • The Office of U.S. Senator Brian Schatz: Hawaii State Sentator Brian Schatz has a listing of federal and other services available to all Hawaiians affected by the fires. The site lists information on the programs available to those impacted on Maui.
    • Maui Nui Strong: Maui Nui Strong is a County of Maui economic development program that connects our residents, businesses, and visitors to useful information about Maui County and lists resources for help that are updated daily.  
    • ​Legal Aid Society of Hawaii: The Legal Aid Society of Hawai'i is a public interest, non-profit law firm dedicated to achieving fairness and justice through legal advocacy, outreach, and education for those in need.
    • Maui Relief TANF Program: provides benefits to eligible families with dependent children who either experienced property damage or loss, or lost earnings or employment as the result of the wildfire disaster.
    • The Maui Rapid Response and Recovery Support: The Maui Rapid Response and Recovery Support group is working to ensure seamless communication between those seeking help and those extending a helping hand. This essential tool not only connects those affected by the Maui wildfires with valuable aid but also serves as a unifying platform.
    • The Maui Strong Fund: The Maui Strong Fund recently received a generous donation of $1 million from the Hawaii Community Foundation. While working with fellow nonprofits and the county mayor, the group strategically channels these funds to address essential needs such as food, shelter, and financial support. The Maui Strong Fund remains open to additional donations, creating an opportunity for all to contribute and collectively shape a brighter future for those affected by the Hawaii wildfires.
    • The Lahui Foundation: The Lahui Foundation, recognizing the urgent need for collective action in the wake of the Maui wildfires, has extended an open invitation for individuals and organizations across the globe to contribute through monetary donations. By creating this avenue for financial support, the foundation demonstrates a profound commitment to addressing all of the challenges triggered by the deadly wildfires. Every dollar donated becomes a crucial building block in reconstructing lives, properties, and communities adversely affected by this natural disaster.
    • Maui Food Bank: The Maui Food Bank has initiated a comprehensive campaign to collect donations and welcome volunteers. At the heart of this community-driven initiative lies the dedication to addressing immediate food security needs for those impacted by the deadly wildfires. By actively seeking both monetary contributions and the valuable assistance of volunteers, the Maui Food Bank highlights its commitment to supporting local residents and emphasizes the role they play in fostering resilience and solidarity within the community during these trying times.
    • GoFundMe: GoFundMe has taken a proactive step to consolidate and amplify support for the victims of the devastating Maui wildfires by introducing a centralized hub exclusively dedicated to fundraising efforts. This innovative initiative serves as a comprehensive platform, seamlessly connecting a multitude of fundraisers aimed at aiding those affected by the Hawaii wildfires.
    • The Hawaii Red Cross: They have swiftly responded by opening emergency shelters for displaced residents due to the fires.

    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.

    Maui and Lahaina Wildfire Damage Claims

    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.

    Proving Liability in a Wildfire Claim

    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:

    • Gathering evidence: One of the most important things you can do when building your case is gathering evidence. We can help you make sure you have all of the critical pieces for your case and that it is organized in the best fashion.
    • Performing an investigation: Engaging the help of experts is critical, as they will play a vital role in proving these cases. Fire investigators who are responsible for analyzing the scene and determining the potential source of the fire can help prove the liability of wrongdoers. These professional assessments are key to providing critical insight into the outcome of any Maui and Lahaina wildfire claims.
    • Familiarizing yourself with the regulations and laws: It is essential that you have a firm grasp of how local and state laws regarding liability in wildfires apply to your specific circumstances. This can include laws regarding negligence, fire prevention, and land management.
    • Establishing causation: A critical part of filing a successful wildfire claim is establishing that wrongdoers actions or failure to act were a substantial factor in causing the fire or the spread of the wildfire.

    Maui Wildfire Claim FAQs

    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.

    What is a wildfire claim?

    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.

    How do I know if I am eligible to file a Maui wildfire claim?

    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.

    What evidence do I need to support my claim?

    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.

    What is the role of my insurance company in a wildfire claim?

    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.

    Will my insurance cover all losses caused by the fire?

    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.

    What about claims that are not covered by insurance?

    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.

    What is the statute of limitation on a Maui wildfire claim?

    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.

    Should I hire an attorney for my wildfire 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.

    Legal Options for Those Affected by Maui Fires

    For those that have been touched by the current Maui wildfires, we want you to know that our team is here, standing with the people of Maui and Lahaina, providing support and guidance. If your family has experienced a Lahaina wildfire wrongful death, a Maui wildfire wrongful death, or any type of damage due to the recent wildfires, please reach out to our law firm as soon as you can. You may be entitled to compensation to rebuild your life in the aftermath of the fire’s destruction. Seeking guidance from our committed Maui wildfire claims attorney at Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner can help ease some of the struggles you currently face. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights and options with one of our compassionate legal advocates, contact our law firm at 808-537-2525 today.

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