Legal Fallout from Texas Ice Storms: What It Means for Nevadans
Recent ice storms and record-low temperatures have created innumerable problems for Southern states, most notably in Texas. By February 16th, all 254 of the state’s counties had declared a weather emergency. Even though the snow has since melted, the legal fallout from these freak storms is just the beginning.
Officials have said that it will take weeks, perhaps months, to determine the full death toll and total monetary value of the damages. Some residents have already begun to file complaints against the main energy companies in the state. A common complaint thus far has been price gouging. As prices for some companies soared up to 120 times the normal rate during shutdowns, some unknowing and innocent parties have been slapped with astronomical bills for the energy they relied on to stave off death.
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However, the most notable claims have to do with wrongful deaths. A notable claim is being made by a mother from Conroe, Texas, a suburb of Houston, who has sued ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) and Entergy Texas over the death of her 11-year-old son. The boy was found unresponsive in his room after a subfreezing-temperature night. The suit claims that the companies failed to “winterize” their plants after a 2011 failure, and therefore endangered the lives of countless Texans.
Almost all of the main power companies in Texas have hired energy lawyers to prepare for future litigation.
So, all of that being said, what does this mean for Nevadans? What if the events in Texas happened here?
Differences Between State Markets
Legally, there is a key difference if this were to happen here. The energy market is vastly different in Texas when compared to Nevada. It could even be said that they are at two opposite ends of the spectrum.
On the one hand, the Texas energy industry is largely deregulated, meaning that no one company controls all of the plants and distribution. Residents have the ability to choose their provider on an open market meaning energy companies have to compete for business. This is what led to the massive spike in energy costs. As supply and demand control the costs, a deregulated market presents different opportunities for potential lawsuits, as individual companies are held more liable for their actions.
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On the other hand, Nevada has one of the most monopolized energy industries in the country. For instance, NV Energy provides power to about 90% of the state. An individual civil suit against a company with that much influence, even in the case of wrongful death, would most likely not be effective, and more cases would have to join in to form a class-action lawsuit.
Nevadans voted soundly against energy deregulation in 2018, allowing NV Energy to continue to control much of the state. It should also be noted that Nevada’s geography is much different from North to South, and there are more cold-weather plans in place due to the colder climate of the Northern part of the state.
However, if the events in Texas did provide any insight, it is that cold weather in dry places is still a dangerous combination for health and safety. The amount of slip and falls, motor vehicle accidents, on-the-job injuries, and property damage resulting from the winter weather is probably incalculable.
We may be free of ice here in Nevada, but the risk of injury is still ever present. If you’ve been involved in an accident or otherwise injured and would like to move forward with legal action, contact Van Law Firm today at (725) 900-9000. Our experienced team of attorneys will help get you the compensation you are entitled to, call now for a free consultation.
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