Can You Sue Over Injuries Caused by the Recent Power Outages?
Personal injury attorneys across Texas are receiving plenty of calls from homeowners and businesses regarding the potential for lawsuits stemming from the recent power outages. Many people suffered injuries and death ranging from broken bones caused by slips, trips, and falls in the dark, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and more. There is no doubt that ERCOT and others failed in their duty to provide Texans reliable power. However, there is a very high bar to overcome when it comes to successfully pursuing a lawsuit against a power provider, even when it is clear that safety regulations were blatantly ignored.
The Night the Lights Went Out in Texas
The sudden spell of cold weather that rolled across Texas caught ERCOT and others off guard. The rarity of such cold temperatures and the demands such conditions would place on the power grid was not high on the radar. As the snow fell and the temperatures plummeted, rolling blackouts were ordered as gas lines stopped flowing, power cables collapsed, and power generators struggled to operate at the capacity required by customers throughout Texas.
The Blackout Caused Injuries and Deaths
The lack of power for heat and light undoubtedly caused personal injuries, wrongful deaths, motor vehicle accidents, property damage, loss of inventory, and more. How many injuries and deaths, their causes, and the extent of property damage won't be known for some time. However, it has sparked considerable talk of class action lawsuits.
However, ERCOT and others involved in delivering power throughout the state are well-shielded against lawsuits. Whether safety regulations were ignored or not, plaintiffs will need to establish that gross negligence or willful misconduct caused personal injuries, deaths, and financial losses.
As a general rule, courts consider weather-related power failures to be "Acts of God," and they don't usually hold power companies liable for things that are out of their control. While consumers have successfully sued over violations of safety regulations and established standards in the past, it is unclear whether lawsuits against ERCOT and other power providers in the state will face similar liability for the recent storms.
Do you have questions about safety regulations or the liability of service providers? Contact Welmaker Injury Law and our team will give you the answers you need to move forward with your claim.