Homeowners’ Legal Claims After Texas Freeze
Winter storms wreaked havoc in Texas this year, causing massive power outages, property damage, and business losses. Many homeowners suffered financial setbacks because of the destruction. While no one can control the weather, the seemingly unprecedented storms were not as unpredictable as the energy companies may want you to believe.
The state suffered cold-related blackouts in 2011, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) was made aware of the possibility of cold temperatures cutting power to Texans and causing destruction across the state. Instead of repairing cold-weather vulnerabilities in their equipment, ERCOT ignored the problem and allowed 29 million residents to lose power in this year’s storms. ERCOT’s failures should not go unpenalized. The company needs to do better when it comes to providing essential services to the Lonestar State.
Property Damage To Austin, Texas Homes
The far-below-freezing temperatures that struck Texas caused many individuals to experience the destruction of their homes. Many of the Texans who lost power because of the storms suffered from broken pipes, flooding, caved roofing, and damage to sheetrock. Such structural damage can cost homeowners dearly and lead to insurance claims. Individuals impacted by this type of damage now are filing lawsuits to seek compensation from ERCOT.
Grounds For ERCOT Property Damage Claims
These property damage lawsuits allege that ERCOT behaved negligently by failing to prepare for the winter storms. Not only did similar events occur in 2011, but they also took place in 1989, indicating that Texas is not immune from cold weather and that ERCOT had noticed that it could occur again.
After the freeze in 2011, government officials drafted a report that spelled out the steps that ERCOT should take to prevent devastating power outages in the event of a future winter storm. Some of the recommendations included reserving power and installing heating elements to protect equipment when the temperature drops. ERCOT failed to take such precautions, and Texans suffered as a result.
Damages For Texas Homeowners
Texas tort law allows individuals who suffer property damage because of another person or entity’s negligence to recover compensation for the damage. For those whose homes froze because of the power outages, there may be substantial costs related to repairing plumbing or interior water damage.
A successful property damage claim can force the party whose negligence contributed to the damages to cover the cost of repairs. In Texas, individuals must file their claims within two years of the date of when the damage occurred.
Austin Wrongful Death Claims Against ERCOT
Many homeowners and their families might also have personal injury and wrongful death claims. More than 100 people lost their lives because of the storm and the related power outages. Individuals died from hypothermia, from carbon monoxide poisoning due to attempts to warm their homes, and in fires. The lawsuits are already rolling in against ERCOT because of these tragic deaths.
Other Possible Defendants in Austin Texas
ERCOT is one party that may be liable for freeze-related property damage, but other entities might also be liable. Private energy companies could be responsible for outages as well, or for soaring electric bills from during the freeze. Some homeowners may also need to pursue lawsuits against their insurers if the insurance company denies coverage or offers too little to complete the needed repairs.
Lawsuits Against Government Entities
Government entities enjoy certain protections from lawsuits. It is not yet clear whether ERCOT falls under those protections as a public utility provider under direct governmental oversight. The Texas Supreme Court is currently considering a case that will determine whether ERCOT is protected under that principle.
However, even if ERCOT is a government agency, victims may be able to sue ERCOT because of a Texas law that allows for governmental liability for some property damage, personal injury, and death. Using this law, individuals may also be able to pursue claims against local utilities that played a role in the blackouts.
Glen Larson Law – Personal Injury, Property Insurance Claims Attorneys
If you have experienced injuries, damages or losses relating to ERCOT, whether that be damage to your home or an injury that you have sustained because of the power outages, then it makes sense for you to consult with an Austin Personal injury attorney as soon as possible. For more than ten years, Glen Larson Law has represented Texans in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. We also focus on helping homeowners and business owners get their insurance claims approved and will take on the insurance company to help ensure that they pay you what you deserve. Reach out to Glen Larson Law for a free no-obligation consultation by calling +15128830277 or by contacting us online.