According to the meteorological experts at the National Weather Service (NWS), most lightning fatalities and injuries occur in the months of June, July and August. Although lightning can strike during any season of the year, the combination of increased outdoor activities and more frequent storms during the summer months can result in higher risk of lightning-related injuries. Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes and hailstorms can also result in serious damage to homes and businesses. For those affected by these major weather events, working with an experienced property damage attorney can ensure prompt resolution and a fair settlement for their insurance claims. Facts about Lightning Strikes Statistics compiled by the NWS indicate that men are much more likely to be struck by lightning than women; approximately 80 percent of all lightning strike victims are male. Nearly two-thirds of the 261 people killed by lightning 2006 through 2013 were engaged in leisure activities:
- Fishing was the most dangerous activity and accounted for 11 percent of all lightning deaths over the seven-year period studied.
- Camping was next and accounted for 16 of the 261 deaths recorded during this period.
- Individuals engaged in soccer games, boating excursions and beach activities were at higher risk; these pastimes each accounted for five percent of fatalities caused by lightning strikes between 2006 and 2013.
- Despite its reputation, golf activities were responsible for only eight fatalities and comprised just 3 percent of all lightning-related deaths.
Most experts estimate that 24,000 people lose their lives and that approximately ten times that number of people are injured worldwide each year due to lightning strikes. Safety from the Storm In 2013, lightning claimed the lives of 23 people in the U.S.; this is a significant reduction from the annual average of 51 deaths caused by lightning strikes over the previous 20-year period. Weather experts credit several factors for this reduction:
- Improved early warnings from the NWS
- The prevalence and popularity of smartphones that can alert users to inclement weather in their area
- Increased awareness of the risks associated with severe thunderstorms
- Population shift from predominantly rural areas to urban centers with added cover from dangerous storms
- Enhanced grounding technologies that provide added protection for those near electric or telephone lines
By taking cover immediately when severe weather is predicted, residents and workers in affected areas can protect themselves more effectively against the hazards of major thunderstorms. Parked vehicles and buildings provide optimal protection against lightning. Avoid taking shelter under trees during a thunderstorm; electricity can pass through these plants into the ground and may jump across the gap to cause serious injury to those nearby. Lightning Not the Only Risk Hail and high winds can also cause injuries and may result in significant damage to homes, businesses and automobiles. With 795 separate hailstorms in Texas alone, these weather events have had a significant impact on homeowners and businesses throughout the state:
- Hailstorms in Dallas and Fort Worth on June 13, 2012, caused an estimated $900 million in damages to homes, businesses and cars in the area.
- Amarillo, Texas, was hit by a hailstorm on May 28, 2013, that resulted in approximately $400 million in damages to residents and business owners.
After the storm has subsided, homeowners can often benefit by enlisting the help of a hail damage lawyer to negotiate a fair settlement for the damages caused by lightning, hail and wind. Working with an experienced and knowledgeable property damage attorney can provide real help during the recovery process. Insurance companies have been known to dispute claims for damage resulting from severe storms or to delay payments to their policyholders. By retaining the services of a hail damage lawyer, homeowners can ensure that their claim is treated fairly and that they receive the compensation to which they are entitled under the law.