Power Companies Want to Avoid Liability

CANTON, Georgia. When utility companies make mistakes, serious damage can follow. For example, the New York Times reports that a recent fire in San Diego was the result of a fallen power pole. In many areas across the country, infrastructure may not have been repaired. As natural disasters increase due to climate change, this infrastructure may be at risk of further damage or may be at risk of causing damage.

When companies make mistakes, they can be required to pay settlements to people who are harmed. In the case of a fire, the flames can damage homes, lead to personal injuries, and cause major damage. Yet, in some cases, utility companies that were required to pay money to settle damages want to pass costs to consumers. One of the central questions in a current battle before the California Legislature involves whether a privately-owned utility company has the right to essentially pass on its legal costs to consumers. Critics believe that this is an attempt by the company to avoid liability.

The costs that the California utility company wants to pass on to consumers is not small. According to the Times, the damages are estimated to be approximately $12 billion.

Utility companies are in a unique position because they have a captive consumer base. When companies lose money, they can try to raise costs. Yet, what’s at stake is who should pay for poor decision making. Should it be executives and CEOs who did not plan to repair infrastructure that posed a fire hazard? Or, should it be consumers who use the power? This question is central to the court case in California.

California is not the only state where utility companies have tried to pass on costs to consumers. In North Carolina, a power company is asking its consumers to pay $400 million more to clean up its coal-ash basins. In Florida, Flower Power and Light hiked the rates on consumers after it misjudged rates for natural gas. The Times reports that the company hedged that natural gas prices would rise. When prices fell, consumers footed the bill for the bad investment. Critics claim that this is a situation where utility companies are permitted to “socialize the risk” while enjoying private profits at the consumer’s expense.

When utility companies’ negligence causes fires, the companies could be held legally liable. Victims may be entitled to seek damages for their personal injuries, damaged homes, and lost property. According to NBC News, New York residents whose homes were engulfed in flames during Sandy sued the power company, claiming that the company was negligent because it didn’t turn off the power as sea levels rose. Homeowners claimed damages that are estimated to be $80 million.

If you have suffered damages as a result of a fire and believe your local utility company may be to blame, you may have rights. Amanda Hall Injury Law are personal injury lawyers in Canton, Georgia who help victims and families who have suffered damages or losses due to another person or company’s negligence. If you have been injured or suffered a loss, reach out to our firm today.

Amanda Hall Injury Law

Towne Lake Parkway, Suite 200

Woodstock, GA 30188