Can you recover compensation for earthquake-related injuries?

The recent earthquakes in California serve as a reminder to everyone in the area that the “Big One” may be around the corner. Earthquakes can cause serious injuries as a result of falling objects, collapsing buildings, flying glass, and road damage. In fact, earthquakes do not need to be particularly severe in order to result in serious injuries—the recent 7.1 magnitude quake in Southern California resulted in reports of injuries, and even milder quakes are easily capable of causing injuries in certain situations.

If you have been hurt in an earthquake, you may be wondering whether you can recover compensation for your injuries. The answer to this question, as is often the case in law, is “it depends.” Typically, you only can recover compensation after an accident if the accident was the result of someone’s negligence, and earthquakes occur without human intervention. That said, some earthquake injuries may be the result of someone’s negligence. In this article, we will review some scenarios in which victims may be able to recover compensation.

Earthquake-related injuries are a common occurrence with the high rate of seismic activity here in California.

Earthquake-related injuries are common here in California, given the state's high rate of seismic activity. As such, there are specific laws in place to address the recovery of compensation for personal injuries that occur during or in the aftermath of a quake.

As an experienced personal injury attorney in Orange County, CA, call Blair & Ramirez LLP at (213) 568-4000 for a free consultation if you or a loved one has been injured in an earthquake due to someone else’s negligence.

Poor building design

After a devastating earthquake hit San Fernando Valley in 1971, California lawmakers realized the need for strict seismic building codes to prevent injuries and death. All new construction in our state must comply with these building codes, and older buildings should be improved and strengthened. These codes are periodically updated by municipalities from time to time. For example, in the 1980s, Los Angeles passed an ordinance requiring about 8,000 older brick buildings to be retrofitted or demolished. Other cities, including many in the Inland Empire, have not done the same, however.

Despite the clear evidence that compliance with seismic building codes and retrofitting older structures decreases the risk of injuries and fatalities, many property owners fail to maintain compliance. This can lead to unnecessary injuries from earthquakes due to code violations and negligent construction or maintenance.

Failure to clean up debris or make repairs

Earthquakes can cause widespread damage to homes, office buildings, retail spaces, parking garages, and other structures. Earthquakes also commonly take down trees, power lines, and other large items. Not all earthquake injuries happen during the event itself, as many injuries can happen when residential or commercial property owners fail to properly and fully clean up debris.

For example, if an earthquake caused windows to break in a hotel or store, you can be seriously injured by broken glass that is not repaired or cleaned up. If a neighbor does not fully take down a tree that has been partially uprooted by an earthquake, the tree could fall and land on you or a family member. Other risks include:

  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Electrical accidents
  • Collapsing structures or sinkholes
  • Getting hit by falling objects

After an earthquake, the risks of potential injuries are only beginning, as you can suffer severe injuries if someone fails to complete repairs or clean up debris.

Call us today to schedule a free case evaluation

The scenarios outlined above are only two examples of how you may suffer earthquake-related injuries due to the negligence of others. If you have sustained an injury in an accident that you suspect was the result of someone else’s negligence, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can.

At Blair & Ramirez LLP, we have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients and do not collect legal fees unless we win your case. To schedule a free case evaluation with an Orange County personal injury attorney, call our office today at (213) 568-4000 or contact us online.