aftermath of an earthquake looking at Los Angeles skyline

Can you sue for injuries sustained during an Earthquake?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

In the wake of an earthquake, the aftermath can be devastating, leaving many to grapple with not only the physical, but also the legal repercussions of their injuries. At J&Y Law Firm in Los Angeles, California, we understand the complexities that come with seeking justice for injuries sustained during such natural disasters. 

This blog post aims to navigate the intricate landscape of legal recourse available to earthquake victims. We’ll explore the possibilities of filing a lawsuit for injuries incurred during an earthquake, examining the legal frameworks and precedents that might apply.

So, can you sue for injuries sustained during an Earthquake?

Suing for injuries sustained during an earthquake involves complex legal considerations. Typically, liability might be pursued if negligence by a property owner, employer, or builder contributed to the injuries. This could include failure to adhere to building codes, not conducting mandatory safety measures, or inadequate maintenance. 

However, establishing negligence and causation directly related to the earthquake’s impact is challenging. Each case is highly specific, depending on the circumstances and the ability to prove that negligence directly led to the injuries. Legal advice from a specialized personal injury attorney like us at J&Y Law Firm is crucial to explore potential claims.

Earthquake injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to more severe injuries such as broken bones, head injuries, and crush syndrome. People can also sustain injuries from falling debris, collapsing structures, or being thrown against objects. In addition to physical injuries, earthquakes can lead to psychological impacts such as stress and trauma.

After earthquakes in California, lawsuits can involve property owners, contractors, and government entities, focusing on negligence, breach of contract, or failure to comply with building codes leading to property damage or personal injuries. Claims may also target insurance companies for not adequately compensating damages covered under policies.

History of earthquakes in California

California has a long history of significant earthquakes due to its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates meet. Notable events include the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which caused extensive damage and loss of life, and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, remembered for its impact during the World Series. The 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles is another key event, causing widespread destruction and prompting improvements in earthquake preparedness and building codes. These events highlight California’s ongoing challenge with earthquake risk and the importance of preparedness and resilient infrastructure.

1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles, CA

Let’s start off by discussing the most recent notable earthquake in Los Angeles, CA. The 1994 Northridge earthquake struck Los Angeles, California, on January 17 at 4:31 AM, registering a magnitude of 6.7. Its epicenter was in the Reseda neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley. 

This devastating quake caused widespread destruction across the region, collapsing freeways, damaging buildings, and disrupting essential services. It resulted in the deaths of 57 people, injured over 8,700, and caused estimated property damages of up to $20 billion, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history. The earthquake led to significant improvements in earthquake preparedness, building codes, and emergency response strategies.

Notable earthquake lawsuits often revolve around property damage, insurance disputes, and failure to adhere to building codes. For example, after the Northridge earthquake in 1994, a significant number of lawsuits were filed against insurance companies by homeowners and property owners over claim denials or underpayments. 

Another example includes legal actions taken against developers or construction companies for not following safety regulations, leading to building collapses or severe damage. These lawsuits aim to address accountability and seek compensation for the losses suffered due to the earthquake.

1989 Loma Prieta earthquake

The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake struck Northern California on October 17, registering a magnitude of 6.9. It caused significant destruction, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the collapse of the Cypress Street Viaduct in Oakland and damage to the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. The quake led to 63 deaths, thousands of injuries, and billions in property damage, highlighting the need for improved earthquake preparedness and infrastructure resilience.

Pretty interesting fact is that during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the World Series was taking place between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants. This event is famously known as the “Battle of the Bay” series. The earthquake occurred just before the start of Game 3 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.No direct injuries were reported at Candlestick Park during the World Series game at the time of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The stadium itself sustained only minor damage, and the game was postponed, allowing for an orderly evacuation of the fans and players.

Improvements in earthquake preparation

California has implemented comprehensive measures for earthquake preparedness, including stringent building codes to ensure structures can withstand seismic activity, public education programs on earthquake safety, and the development of early warning systems like ShakeAlert to provide advance notice of earthquakes. Emergency response plans are in place across communities, and regular drills are conducted to improve readiness. The state also promotes retrofitting of older buildings and infrastructure to reduce damage and casualties during earthquakes.

What exactly is ShakeAlert?

ShakeAlert is an earthquake early warning system developed for the West Coast of the United States, including California. It uses a network of seismic sensors to detect the initial energy of an earthquake and quickly calculates the expected intensity of shaking. The system then sends alerts seconds before the shaking starts, giving people and organizations a short window to take protective actions, such as stopping trains, closing gas valves, and alerting the public to drop, cover, and hold on. This technology aims to reduce injury and damage during seismic events.

Where in California is more susceptible to earthquakes?

Areas along the San Andreas Fault, including regions near Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the San Bernardino Mountains, are more susceptible to earthquakes. The Hayward Fault affecting the San Francisco Bay Area and the San Jacinto Fault near Riverside and San Bernardino also present significant risks. Coastal regions and the Central Valley have varying degrees of susceptibility due to their proximity to these fault lines.


In the aftermath of an earthquake, the path to recovery can be both physically and emotionally daunting. At J&Y Law Firm, we’re dedicated to helping you navigate the complex legal landscape that follows such events. If you’ve sustained injuries during an earthquake and wonder about your legal options, know that specific circumstances dictate the viability of a lawsuit. Our team is here to explore every avenue to ensure you receive the compensation and support you deserve. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. If you have been injured due to an Earthquake, reach out to us at 323-202-2325 and let’s discuss how we can assist you moving forward.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.