Wow! That is disappointing. So if I see that a company endangers children you I to wait until a child dies or gets harmed before there is any legal recourse. And then it is apparently only a private lawsuit according to what people replied to my post.
Again, the details matter. Some situations that pose an obvious risk of harm can be dealt with before any actual harm occurs. But it is true that in many instances the only recourse is a civil lawsuit after the harm has occurred. Some acts that harm others may be a crime, but again, crimes only punish the criminal after the crime has been committed.
In my particular situation, the water company of the town I live in in Washington state turns off people's water due to nonpayment of their bills! Many of us are appalled and there is a community outrage going on here and I collected quite a number of people who want to seek legal action to stop the water company from engaging in such draconian and medieval measures.
Ah, now we are getting to your real issue. This is an excellent example of why the details matter. Any service provider needs to have the power to cut off providing continual service when the customer has stopped paying for that service. Otherwise, everyone would simply continue to use the service indefinitely without payment to the utility. Why pay for it if you don’t have to, after all? The service provider would lose money in that situation, with the end result that no utility would be willing to provide that service. Obviously, we don’t want that to happen or no one gets water service.
The state recognizes, however, that in the case of electric and water utility service, disconnection can result in hardship and in some cases create an emergency threat to the health of the occupants, particularly when the customer is a residential customer. As a result, the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commmission provide has adopted regulations for disconnection of water and electric service that utilites must follow. For water service, those rules are found at Washington Administrative Code (WAC) § 480-110-355.
Under these rules, the utility must provide at least two notices to the customer warning of the disconnection prior to the date service is to be cut off. The first notice must be at leat 8 days prior to disconnection. The second must be at least 3 days prior to disconnection. The notices must be either mailed or delivered personally to the address where service is provided. The notices must clearly state why service will be disconnected and explain the customer's options, including setting up payment plans, that will prevent the disconnection. Furthermore, there are specific rules that allow a customer who would have a medical emergency without water service to keep the service continued during the period of the medical emergency situation. Note that the notices of disconnection only get sent after one or more other billing notices have been sent to collect on the delinquency.
In short, the customer is going to have plenty of notice that there is a delinquency and have the opportunity to try to resolve the problem prior to having water cut off. Thus, I do not see this as the “draconian and medieval measures” you make them out to be. The utilities have a right to get paid. The customers should have advance warning of that so they can prepare for it and take action to try to prevent it. These rules accomplish that. What more do you think the utilities should have to do prior to cutting off service? How do you think it ought to work? If you think the present rules are not good enough, then contact the Commission and try to get it to change the disconnection rules to something you think is better. You could send the commission a petition signed by the people you've contacted seeking a change in the rules, for example.