CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH DALLAS ERCOT CLAIM LAWYERS
For most Texans, thinking about the power grid and how electricity gets to their homes to power their lives isn’t a daily concern. That is, it wasn’t until massive power outages left millions without power and other utilities during one of the coldest winters in recent history. Aside from the inconvenience that they caused, these outages caused real damage to many people’s lives. Fortunately, there may be a way for those who sustained injuries due to the potential negligence of ERCOT to be compensated. Speaking to a Dallas winter storm personal injury lawyer could be one of the best moves you ever make for the sake of yourself and your family.
If you or a family member sustained an injury as a result of winter storm power outages, call (800) 863-5312 today to speak with Dallas ERCOT claim lawyers.
WHAT IS ERCOT?
ERCOT stands for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. It is responsible for managing the flow of power to more than 26 million Texans, which represents about 90 percent of the state’s electric load. As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects more than 46,500 miles of transmission lines and more than 680 generation units. ERCOT also performs financial settlement for the competitive wholesale, bulk-power market and manages retail switching for 8 million premises in certain areas. As a membership-based, nonprofit corporation, its members include consumers, cooperatives, generators, and investor-owned electric utilities. Put succinctly, ERCOT exists to maintain system reliability, facilitate a competitive wholesale market, facilitate a competitive retail market, and ensure open access to transmission.
IMPACT OF TEXAS POWER FAILURES
The impact of the recent storms and cold weather, and the resultant collapse of the power grid, has been monumental. This impact included:
- The death of dozens of Texans that could be tied directly to the storms, though experts are saying that the actual death toll could actually be much higher. Preliminary numbers are in, but a more accurate total of the number of people killed by the winter storms will not likely be available for a month or two.
- Millions of dollars’ worth of property damage across the state. Pipes that were not properly prepared for the cold temperatures burst and flooded many homes and businesses. Fires also broke out as people attempted to use fireplaces to keep warm or utilized other methods to try to heat pipes.
- Potential exposure to unsafe drinking water. Many local water systems in Texas felt the impact of the winter storms in one way or another. As a result, they weren’t able to supply clean water as per usual, which led to the issuance of boil-water notices affecting around 7 million Texans. This means that Texans who might have had water could have been exposed to drinking water that was affected by dangerous contaminants.
POTENTIAL ERCOT INJURIES
When dealing with winter storms and power outages like Texas experienced, the injuries that could result are not necessarily as clear-cut as in the case of a car accident. However, there is a wide range of injuries that have occurred—and could continue to occur—in these dangerous conditions.
One of the main concerns when the weather is very cold and residents don’t have the power to provide heat for themselves is hypothermia. Hypothermia is a medical condition that occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it, which can cause a dangerously low body temperature. When your body temperature drops, your heart, nervous system, and other organs can’t function as they normally do. Heart failure or respiratory failure can occur as a result. Some of the symptoms of hypothermia include shivering—which is the body’s automatic attempt to warm itself—slurred or slow speech, and clumsiness or lack of coordination.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Without power, many Texans turned to alternative measures to provide heat for themselves and their families. These included running gas stoves, running vehicles, and attempting to light fires in small areas that weren’t properly ventilated. Unfortunately, desperate measures like these led to tragic stories such as this one. Regardless of the dire situation that you may find yourself in, it is very important to refrain from running a car or gas stove in an area that does not have proper ventilation, as doing so can lead to serious injuries.
The recent winter storms led to the death of over 50 Texans, and that number will likely continue to rise as more stories and data come out. Many of the deaths were the result of hypothermia as described above; others were caused by poisoning when people felt that they had no other choice but to use dangerous methods to try and stay warm.
Read More: Dallas Wrongful Death Lawyers
CAN ERCOT BE HELD LIABLE?
To answer the question of whether ERCOT could be held liable for your injuries, it is important to start with an understanding of what liability is and how it is determined. Liability means the legal responsibility for the injuries of another. Typically, in a personal injury case, the liability of another party to pay for your injuries will be established by proving that they acted negligently.
Establishing negligence involves a few different components. First, you must prove that the person from whom you are seeking to recover had a duty to act in a certain way, which is known as the duty of care. Next, you must prove that in the given situation from which you are seeking damages, they failed to live up to this duty of care. After that, you must be able to establish that this failure to act according to the duty of care is the reason that you are injured. That is, there must be a connection between the action and the injury. Finally, you must be able to prove actual damages. Even if you are able to establish that another party acted negligently, if you did not suffer any damages, then it is unlikely that you will be able to recover anything.
Is ERCOT Liable?
One element of this important question is currently being decided by the Texas Supreme Court. More specifically, the question is whether sovereign immunity will serve to protect ERCOT from any claims. Sovereign immunity is a well-established legal principle that protects governments and governmental agencies from any lawsuits that seek monetary damages. If ERCOT is successful in the case that is currently before the Supreme Court, it may be able to use the concept of sovereign immunity to avoid paying out damages to those who were affected by the winter storms. If it is not successful, then it could potentially be liable. At this point, potential claimants will need to establish, through the concept of negligence, that ERCOT was responsible for their injuries.
FILING AN ERCOT CLAIM
Victims may be wondering how, exactly, to handle Dallas ERCOT claims. They are potentially more complicated than a typical personal injury claim in a few different ways. First, there isn’t the direct connection between accident and injury that might exist in other incidents—such as in a car accident, for example. However, there are a few tried and true steps that accident victims should complete in the majority of cases.
1. Contact a Dallas ERCOT Claim Lawyer
Step one in filing a claim should be to contact an experienced Dallas attorney. At the outset, an attorney might be able to tell you if you have a claim that is worth pursuing further. If you have a compensable claim, then they may also be able to assist you in seeking the compensation to which you might be entitled. Filing any sort of personal injury claim, let alone a claim against a large government entity like ERCOT, is a complicated process, and accident victims should always seek the assistance of an attorney who has the skill and experience necessary to help them and their family.
2. Information Gathering
After you have decided on an attorney and hired them, they may promptly be able to begin the tedious but critically important process of gathering all of the information that your case might require. This can include analyzing any photo or video evidence that might be available, conducting interviews with witnesses or other parties, and looking into the applicable statutes and regulations that will govern your case.
3. Negotiate a Settlement
This is perhaps the most important step in an ERCOT claim, as most cases will end in a settlement. Preparing to go to trial can be very time-consuming and expensive, so there is often a middle ground where both parties are willing to settle for a certain amount of money in order to avoid this hassle. At this stage, consider contacting a Dallas personal injury lawyer with the necessary experience to be able to properly evaluate your claim and effectively argue on your behalf for the compensation that you may be owed.
CALL ZINDA LAW GROUP TODAY
Taking on ERCOT by yourself is too much for any one accident victim to handle on their own. Zinda Law Group’s Dallas attorneys may be able to help you seek maximum compensation for you and your family. We guarantee that you won’t pay us anything we win your case.
Meetings with attorneys are by appointment only.