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Gatlinburg, TN Wildfire Lawsuits

Rising from the ashes: Tennessee personal injury law firm helps Sevier County residents recover from devastating wildfires.

In the aftermath of the devastating 2016 Tennessee wildfires, which ravaged an estimated 2,500 homes and buildings, torched 18,000 acres, killed 14 people and injured hundreds more, residents of Gatlinburg and Sevier County continue to suffer from the effects of the firestorm. Though the flames have long been extinguished, landslides, water contamination, toxic ash pollution and property value loss continue to plague the region in the wake of what has been called the state's worst fire disaster in at least a century.

Fortunately, nationally recognized Tennessee attorney Sid Gilreath, founder of Gilreath & Associates, has taken up the call to represent wildfire victims in hundreds of lawsuits worth millions of dollars against the federal government.


Did you experience economic damages or personal injury
from the Sevier County wildfires?

If so, you may be owed financial compensation for your loss.
Fill out the form below to see if you qualify, or contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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The Gatlinburg Wildfires: An Act of God or Gross Negligence?

When a natural disaster strikes, it's typically seen as “an act of God,” and therefore there's no one to file a lawsuit against. Victims must lean on their own insurance companies for financial recovery. However, in the case of the 2016 Sevier County wildfires, reports have found that human negligence and error played a major role in letting the flames get out of control in the first place, which caused widespread devastation in the region.

Despite forecasts of high winds and drought conditions that retired firefighters say should have spurred officials into action when the fire was discovered on a remote trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in November of 2016, the terrain was initially deemed too steep to risk a full-scale firefighting effort. The government has tried to make the defense that unprecedented conditions caused the fire to spread.

But, that's no excuse for being unprepared.

Gatlinburg officials didn't issue an evacuation order until hours after the flames reached city limits, and they failed to use the state's emergency alert system to send text alerts to residents about the evacuation order. In addition, state and local public safety officials neglected to use social media to warn residents of the approaching wildfire.

In the months following the disaster, an aggravated arson case played out in Sevier County Juvenile Criminal Court against the two teenagers accused of starting the fire by tossing lit matches onto the trail. However, those charges were dropped. Now, a number of personal injury lawsuits are in the works in civil court.

In fact, Gilreath & Associates is in the process of filing 200 claims against the federal government for the 2016 wildfire in Eastern Tennessee. Hundreds of people have brought claims in the millions of dollars against the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior for their role in the fires that torched Gatlinburg and Sevier County.

“This is going to be several millions of dollars,” Gilreath told local reporters. “Some people had houses over a million dollars destroyed and businesses.”

Our case claims the National Park Service was unprepared to fight the fire and should have anticipated a wildfire of that scale, and failed to maintain adequate staff and equipment for such a fire.

Over 70 claims have already been filed by Gatlinburg homeowners and property owners.


A Harrowing Survival Story

Frustrated by the lack of information and slow response time from city leaders during the crisis, Gatlinburg resident Erik Cooper recounted his narrow escape the night of the fires.

I was in the pit of hell. It was absolutely on fire on all sides of the road, starting at Wiley Oakley, where it meets Ski Mountain Road,” he recalls. “There were spot fires all over the mountains around you. It looked like hell. It looked like Armageddon.

Cooper, who has a background in risk management and insurance, led his neighbors down the mountain to safety. Since then, he said he has experienced worsening PTSD symptoms as well as respiratory and sinus issues.

Sid Gilreath, who represents Cooper and hundreds of other Tennessee residents impacted by the Sevier County Wildfires - including a few families of people who lost their lives that horrible night - says the central question of this disaster is:

How could due care on the part of some responsible individual, including the government, have prevented this injury?

When interviewed by local media, Gilreath told reporters that Sevier County and its cities need “not only better plans for taking care of risk but also for warning systems.”

With damage estimates placed at an around $500 million, healing from the 2016 firestorm will be a long and difficult process for Gatlinburg and Sevier County residents. Community leaders say that the recovery process could take up to three years or more.


Take Action Now to Find Out if You Have a Case

If you've suffered damages, injury or loss from the 2016 Sevier County wildfires, it's important you take action immediately by researching your legal right to compensation before the statute of limitations runs out and your claim expires. The Department of Interior has six months to respond to the claims.

Sid Gilreath is the founder of Gilreath & Associates, an award-winning law firm passionately helping victims in high profile, nationwide personal injury lawsuits. With offices in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis, our team of expert attorneys is fully prepared to fight on your behalf using our deep experience, compassion and commitment.

To schedule a free consultation, contact Gilreath & Associates toll-free today.


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Tennessee Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilreath & Associates offer free and personal consultation to help you evaluate your legal options.
Our attorneys are dedicated to helping you recover financially from an injury stemming from someone else's negligence.