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Mudslide Property Damage and Natural Disaster Accident Lawyers - New York Law Firm

History of Mudslides

The Washington State mudslide that claimed the lives of 41 people is clearly one of the worst in the history of the State of Washington.  While many who encounter a natural disaster experience scenes that could be taken right out of a blockbuster movie, there are also those who take all the right precautions only to result in devastation, injury and death.  Who is to blame when a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina or the Washington State mudslide occurs, or if a town is washed away when a dam breaks?  The answers are often not clear.

Natural disasters are the topic for many lawsuits when counties and municipalities fail to take appropriate or untimely action in responding to, or taking care of, an affected area. In addition, emergency responders and public officials can become the targets of lawsuits when they fail to manage their response priorities.  Sometimes we cannot find anyone to blame.  Other times, the blame comes very easy.  Are mudslides and other natural disasters preventable, and how can your attorney help you assess the damage and seek recovery for your losses?

How a New York Attorney Can Help You in a Natural Disaster Lawsuit

In a recent lawsuit associated with the Washington State mudslide, a woman claimed that the United States Department of Natural Resources contributed to the massive landslide by allowing the removal of trees in an area that had been deemed highly probable to mudslide activity in 2004.  The trees were meant to protect the land; instead over time, they weakened the soil that contributed to the disaster. The statute of limitations varies statewide when it comes to seeking relief for natural disasters, and in Washington State, the process to bring a lawsuit against a county requires a notice of 60 days.  Do you know the statute of limitations or the process for filing a claim in your city or county?  Making yourself knowledgeable on the process may come in handy in the long run when you have to gather information for officials, investigators and your New York attorney.

Aside from environmental alterations, many victims point fingers toward real estate agents and building contractors, and many of those claims are justified. While real estate agents are bound to disclose irregularities and faults in a building or neighborhood, many are also protected by Errors and Omissions Insurance, which agents are required to carry by law in case the agent errors or omits information—intentionally or unintentionally. Many builders and contractors are licensed, bonded and ensured and are protected within limitation for any defects or faults in the construction. Does this mean they are free from fault?  Far from it; there are cases where agents failed to disclose features that could have led to injury or death and are paying heavily for their mistakes.

Counties and municipalities also have a responsibility to disclose when the area where people live are prone to disasters such as flooding or mudslides, and should issue proper warnings to residents who live in that area when impending danger is on the horizon. In Washington, the dangers of mudslides had been documented and studied at least 10 years before the mudslide occurred that claimed the lives of so many, ranging in age from infancy to 91 years old.

What is a Mudslide?

What is a mudslide, and how could a force made of water and dirt cause so much damage?

A mudslide is a mass of fluid moving as quickly as 50 miles per hour in a downhill direction, formed from loose dirt and water. Mudslides are caused by rain and water accumulation or snowmelt, and can vary can travel very slowly or very quickly where it flattens everything in its path. Many of us have heard of the landslides in California, and Los Angeles is the site of many such landslides, however a landslide can happen wherever water and loose ground and slope exist. Risk areas include areas where wildfire or human modifications have removed trees and other debris that originally served as a natural protection, as well as any areas that have been modified by construction. Areas like these should be potentially under the scope on a high level.

What To Do in a Mudslide Incident

If you have reason to believe that a mudslide may occur in your area, you’ll want to enlist the assistance of authorities well before one actually happens.  If you have no warning and are forced to deal with an impending natural disaster that leaves little time to save anything other than yourself, here are some precautions you can take:

  • Check your area for frequency of mudslides; is your home in the path, or is the mudslide in a neighboring area?
  • Listen to the radio and media alerts warning citizens of impending danger in the area.
  • Go to high ground quickly, particularly if you see rocks or debris moving in your direction.
  • Avoid the path of the mudslide. If you suspect others are trapped or injured, seek help immediately.

Despite the precautions you take there will remain many unanswered questions as to whether or not a slide could have been prevented. Those under the radar include emergency responders and builders.  In addition, causes can include:

  • negligence of contractors;
  • failure to disclose information by Realtors;
  • poor workmanship and craftsmanship from the housing developer or builder leading to deficits in the structure;
  • improper plumbing that floods in an area and goes undetected.

If any of the above entities failed to do their job when it comes to providing a secure environment for you to live, you may be able to talk to an New York attorney about having a case against those entities or individuals.  If you, a friend, or a loved one has suffered property damage or been negatively affected by a mudslide or other natural disaster, please contact a Mudslide Property Damage Lawyer at Finz & Finz, P.C., at (855) TOP-FIRM today or fill out the Mudslide Property Damage Case Evaluation form with no obligation.

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