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Maui Wildfire Lawsuits - Lahaina Compensation and Settlements

Lahaina and other Maui residents and businesses are filing lawsuits against Hawaiian Electric and other responsible parties for their roles in the wildfires that ravaged Maui.

Our law firm consortium, which includes Hawaii-based Rufo Law Group along with Peiffer Wolf and Skikos Crawford Skikos & Joseph, is investigating all forms of damages and losses incurred from the deadliest U.S. wildfire in the last century, including property damage, business losses, insurance issues, personal injury, and wrongful death.

Experience Investigating Wildfire Lawsuits Against Utility Companies

Our firm has fought for the rights of injured individuals since 1955. LPR’s legal team investigated cases against Southern California Edison (SCE) on behalf of individuals who suffered damages in the 2018 Woolsey fire.

Similar to lawsuits in the Maui fires, Woolsey plaintiffs alleged the utility company failed to prevent a devastating wildfire during extreme weather conditions.

 
 

News Updates for Maui Wildfire Lawsuits

October 17, 2023: A USA Today reporter wrote that many Lahaina businesses are not likely to reopen after the wildfires. Co-founder and owner of popular restaurant Cheeseburger in Paradise told USA Today cited several reasons driving their decision to permanently close shop: soil toxicity, a lengthy debris-removal process, and a damaged economy’s impact on energetic action from the government.

October 15, 2023: The State of Hawaii, Department of Health (DOH) reported data from ash sampling collected from eight burned Kula homes revealed high levels of arsenic, lead, and cobalt. These homes were constructed during the same period as areas of Lahaina that were impacted by the wildfires. DOH thus speculates that similar contaminants exist in Lahaina-area ash and urges people to take recommended precautionary steps to reduce potential exposure.

“While the presence of these substances is not unexpected, the concentration of arsenic in particular demonstrates the high toxicity of the ash and reinforces the importance of avoiding exposure to the ash,” said State Health Director Dr. Kenneth S. Fink. “It is important to remember that people can take action to minimize their exposure to these contaminants, including avoiding disruption of ash and wearing proper PPE when in impacted areas. In addition, for people near the impacted areas, keeping surfaces clean of dust and ash and frequent handwashing will greatly reduce exposure.”

October 4, 2023: An article by The Washington Post informs that Hawaiian Electric is “severely underinsured” to cover damage claims and repair the utility company’s infrastructure resulting from August’s wildfire. The article further states that Hawaiian Electric employed drones for facility inspection in 2019 and 2020. West Maui was determined to be the top priority area based on these analyses. Although the utility studied California’s 2018 Camp Fire for guidance in developing a fire mitigation plan, it determined that it had fewer facilities in high-risk areas and fewer tall trees. This logic drove the decision to not conduct inspections and vegetation management more frequently and more thoroughly and to not devise a public safety power shut-off program.

September 20, 2023: Reuters reports that three major landowners are named in a lawsuit claiming the property owners permitted an invasive species of tall grasses to run rampant on their property, evolving into “dense fire fuel” near Lahaina. According to Reuters, although multiple factors combined to generate the catastrophic fires in Maui, scientists attribute the rapid spreading of fire to the invasive grasses.

August 16, 2023: A lawsuit filed against Hawaiian Electric claims the utility’s gross negligence and knowing failure to act in a way that would have prevented Maui’s disastrous wildfires “helped set the stage” for the destruction that followed. According to the lawsuit, documents show the utility and public utility officials were aware of the dangers of wildfires, as well as the strong potential for downed power lines and unmanaged vegetation growth to start such fires.

 
 

Can I Get a Settlement in a Maui Wildfire Lawsuit?

If you have experienced any of the following as a result of the fires in 2023 Maui, you might be eligible to recover compensation in a lawsuit against the Maui power companies:

  1. Personal injury
  2. Death of a loved one
  3. Complete loss of home and/or personal property
  4. Damaged home and/or personal property
  5. Complete loss of business property
  6. Business property damage
  7. Insurance coverage shortfalls resulting from coverage limits, uncovered possessions, high deductibles, etc.
  8. Mandatory evacuation from your home
  9. Loss of business income
  10. Delay damages and expenses connected to permitting and rebuilding costs that are unreimbursed or inadequately covered

To assist with documenting your home and personal belonging losses, we provide this free spreadsheet that you can utilize to document your losses. Maui Fire Loss Spreadsheet.

To contact us for a free case evaluation, you can call us at (808) 633-8138. You also can request an evaluation by clicking Maui Wildfire Lawsuit Evaluation. For more information regarding the group of lawyers that will be representing you, view our Maui Fire Brochure.

 
 

What We Know About Maui Wildfire Lawsuits

Residents of Hawaii have filed lawsuits against Hawaiian Electric Company, arguing that the damage to the island could have been reduced if the utility company had taken preventive action and responded with more urgency to downed power lines.

According to claims, the Maui town of Lahaina was destroyed by flames when Hawaiian Electric and its subsidiary Maui Electric Company failed to shut down power. Hawaiian Electric gave wildfire mitigation the lowest priority in a state regulatory filing in April.

Utility Company Knew of Risk

For years, Hawaiian Electric had prior knowledge of the area's fire risk. Climate change has made West Maui noticeably drier than other regions of the island, and flammable non-native vegetation has taken over the region. Hurricane winds add to the mix, a concern that had been raised after brush fires on Maui and Oahu in 2018

Hawaiian Electric Had National Weather Service Warnings

The wildfire lawsuits claim that Hawaiian Electric also had prior knowledge of the National Weather Service’s (NWS) high wind and fire warning for Hawaii before the blazes began. NWS issued a Red Flag Warning for West Maui and other parts of the Hawaiian Islands in anticipation of “strong and gusty trade winds” during Hurricane Dora. The hurricane winds reportedly traveled up to 70 miles per hour.

Downed Power Lines Sparked Fires

Lawsuits claim these winds downed power lines, which initiated the fires and caused them to spread and engulf Lahaina.

They Failed to Shut Off Power

Because the utility company did not implement Public Safety Power Shutoffs, which California has used in its wildfire prevention strategy for years, fires grew in their intensity and consumed homes, businesses, and properties, displaced residents from their homes, and caused serious injuries and death.

The New York Times reported former member of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Jennifer Potter acknowledged “there should have been a requirement for them to cut off power.”

They Said They Were Committed to Fire Mitigation

A 2018 Hawaiian Electric press release stated the utility company would apply itself to wildfire mitigation and that it had “evaluated the wildfire mitigation plans filed by the major utilities in California and studied Hawaii fire ignition maps to determine where the greatest risks are and to provide a basis for planning.”

 
 

What Are the Main Legal Issues Involving Maui Wildfire Lawsuits?

Lawsuits against Hawaiian Electric center on the premise that the utility company knew or should have known that Maui was a risk for wildfires and knew or should have known that extreme weather conditions would heighten those risks but failed to prioritize wildfire prevention and mitigation practices.

 
 

What Compensation Could You Get in a Maui Wildfire Lawsuit?

The compensation you or your loved ones are entitled to recover as a result of the wildfires depend on the extent of the injuries and losses.

Some of the types of recoverable damages include the following:

  1. Replacement value of property destroyed or damaged
  2. Reimbursement for past and future expenses incurred as a result of being displaced from home
  3. Past and future wage and business losses
  4. Past and future pain and suffering related to injuries, treatment, and recovery
  5. Past and future diminished quality of life
  6. Diminished future potential earnings
  7. Past and future medical expenses
  8. Possible punitive damages

We will investigate your case and fight to obtain the maximum financial compensation for all individuals who suffered property loss, business loss, personal injury, or the death in the 2023 Maui wildfires.

 
 

Why Choose Our Law Firm

We bring a solid track record of results, including more than 150 jury verdicts equaling or exceeding $1 million and a total of more than $40 billion in jury verdicts and settlements.

Since 1955, Levin Papantonio Rafferty has fought and won against large corporations like Hawaiian Electric. Our firm is listed in Best Lawyers in America and The National Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame. Our conference, Mass Torts Made Perfect, is where personal injury and mass torts attorneys come to learn from our lawyers how to get compensation for their clients in cases of corporate negligence.

 
 

You Pay Only if We Recover Damages on Your Behalf

Our group of law firms will evaluate your case at no cost to you. During this conversation, we will listen to understand your case and determine your legal options for pursuing compensation.

We work on a contingency fee basis. This means we do not charge you legal fees for your Maui Wildfire lawsuit unless we recover compensation on your behalf.

Our attorneys are committed to helping the residents of Maui after this tragedy, so we are reducing our contingency rate to 25%.

To contact us for a free case evaluation, you can call us at (808) 633-8138. You also can request an evaluation by clicking Maui Wildfire Lawsuit Evaluation. For more information regarding the group of lawyers that will be representing you, view our Maui Fire Brochure.

 
 

Caught On Video: Maui Residents Show How Wildfires Started

 
 

Attorney Mike Papantonio and Farron Cousins Discuss the Maui Wildfire Lawsuits Lawsuits

 

News Headlines About Maui Wildfires

“County of Maui sues Hawaiian Electric for negligence leading to fires” - Reuters 08/21/23

“How the Hawaii Wildfires Spread So Quickly” - Reuters 08/21/23

“Timeline: How the deadly wildfires took over Maui day by day” - ABC 08/18/23

“1st reported Maui fire may have been caused by damaged power lines, independent report claims” - ABC 08/17/23

“Maui's displaced grow anxious as wildfire recovery drags on” - Reuters 08/15/23

“Why the Maui Wildfire Was So Deadly” - Time Magazine 08/15/23

“At least 101 people were killed in Maui’s wildfires, Hawaii governor says” - CNN 08/15/23

 
 

Electrical Companies Facing Similar Issues Declared Bankruptcy

“PG&E files for bankruptcy after California wildfires” - CNN 01/29/2019

“California Power Provider PG&E Files For Bankruptcy In Wake Of Fire Lawsuits” - NPR 01/29/2019

“PG&E, the nation’s biggest utility company, files for bankruptcy after California wildfires” - Washington Post 01/29/2019