Texas Energy Companies Face Wrongful Deaths Over Blackouts
The onslaught of lawsuits relating to the arctic blast that humbled Texas’ power grid has begun. The first wrongful death lawsuits named ERCOT, The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. that cut power to the homes of millions of Texans during the freeze. ERCOT is not the only entity that is facing lawsuits related to the freeze. ERCOT is simply the largest supplier of energy in Texas.
Deaths Related to Exposure Could Turn into Million Dollar Verdicts
The energy companies are under fire for failing to provide the same services that anyone in the Northern part of the United States would have by default. Essentially, the run on energy was caused by millions of Texans using space heaters and other devices to keep them warm. The drain on the power grid was too high. The choice was made to have rolling blackouts. However, this was little consolation to those who died of exposure or the relatives who found them days later.
Elements of Negligence
The power company has a duty of care to ensure that the system that we all depend on works even in extraordinary situations, like single-digit temperatures here in Texas. The energy companies are being blamed for 1) failing to prepare their equipment for single-digit temperatures, and perhaps the more damning of the two claims 2) the power company never warned customers that they would be employing rolling blackouts to meet the drain.
The second argument is significant because many people found themselves unprepared for the extreme cold. Older Texans were especially vulnerable. Had energy consumers been told, those who were at high-risk for exposure might have called relatives to stay there while their area was being hit by the blackout. Because they failed to do that, there were a number of avoidable deaths caused by people freezing to death in their own homes.
It wasn’t just the elderly, however, that lost their lives due to the cold. In one case, an 11-year-old boy died of exposure in his own bed. His family woke up to find him unresponsive the next day.
Elements of Racism/Classism
The 11-year-old boy who died of exposure did so in a trailer park as many downtown offices retained power even as people died in their homes. Indeed, the process of choosing which areas were allotted power is front and center at the heart of the lawsuits being filed against ERCOT and others. Why were these downtown offices able to retain power when these other areas of Texas had their power cut?
The energy companies will have a lot of explaining to do.
Talk to a Houston Personal Injury Attorney
Lack of heat during rolling blackouts cost many people their lives. It also prevented their security systems from working and may have exposed them to unnecessary danger. If you were injured because of rolling blackouts, call the Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.