San Diego Fire Damage Attorney
Fire damage to your home can be catastrophic. Fire is relentless and destroys almost everything it touches. Fires and fire damage are serious. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t always treat fire damage claims seriously. They like to nickel-and-dime. You expect your insurance company to treat you fairly after a fire damage claim, but they don’t.
Was your home or business damaged by fire? Contact Evan, a lawyer experienced with fire damage claims and who used to work for insurance companies defending property damage claims. He’ll give you personal attention and dedication.
Call Evan, a San Diego Fire Damage Lawyer who has experience with fire damage claims. He’s highly rated by former clients. Read more at Reviews.
Smoke and Fire Damage
Smoke from fire can also damage your property. Smoke can seep into your home and clothes. It can damage items untouched by fire. Ash can also damage items. You should act quickly to avoid additional damage to your property.
How to Make a Fire Damage Claim
There’s a number of things to consider when making a fire damage claim: 1) what affirmative steps you should take; 2) when you should take those steps; 3) what you should know about your insurance policy; and 4) whether someone was responsible for the fire, and what to do about it.
Document the Damage
Make of list of all personal property that was damaged and keep any damaged personal property. Take lots of photos of the damaged personal property and the damaged home.
Don’t allow your property to suffer additional damage, like theft. Protect personal property if you think it may be stolen.
Make a Timely Claim
Contact your homeowners insurance company as soon as possible and make a claim for fire damage. Insurers operate on a “first come, first served” basis, so it’s important to make a claim soon because it’s likely many other homeowners will be making a claim.
File a police report.
Keep a Paper Trial of ALE
ALE stands for “additional living expenses,” also known as “Loss of Use.” You are entitled to be compensated for ALE in the event of fire damage, but you should document your expenses. Save gas, food, and hotels receipts. Give them to the insurance company and claim compensation for “Loss of Use.” You don’t have to sleep in a shelter. Stay in a hotel and send the bill to your insurance company.
Have your Home Inspected
The insurance company will send someone to inspect your home. Make sure the inspection is thorough. The following should be checked: the roof, stucco, structural steel, windows, HVAC system, and walls.
Determine the Source of the Fire
This is tricky. It may be that a third party negligently caused the fire. In that case, you can make an insurance claim for fire damage (“first party claim”), and then bring a claim against the negligent party (“third party claim”). You’re unlikely to fully recover under your homeowners policy, so it’s important to seek full reimbursement from a responsible third party.
Be aware that if you do pursue a third party claim, your insurance company may try to intervene. But that intervention can be limited by the “Made Whole Doctrine.”
And here are a few other things you should know:
- You may have a partial loss claim if the fire didn’t destroy your entire home. If so, be concerned about unseen damage (e.g. smoke damage, ash in the ducts);
- Insurance payments may be made on a partial basis. If so, read each check carefully. Don’t sign it if it reads “Payment in Full.” And if you have a mortgage, it’s likely that the bank will be listed on the check as a payee;
- Understand whether your policy provides Replacement Cost Value (“RVC”) or Actual Cash Value “ACV”). The former does not discount for a decrease in value; the latter does;
- If the fire damaged your car, make a claim with your car insurance company. The damage should be covered under comprehensive coverage;
- Your homeowners policy should cover damage to trees and shrubs in your yard; and
- A third party who negligently damages a person’s “timbers, trees, or underwood” is responsible for 3 times the value of the trees and vegetation (Cal. Civil Code 3346).
San Diego Wildfire Attorney
Wildfires are a serious hazard for residents of San Diego County. According to the 2019 Wildfire Risk Report by Core Logic, San Diego is one of the top three metropolitan cities at risk for wildfires. CalFire is a great resources for locating present and past wildfires in San Diego.
California is prone to wildfires. Was your home or business damaged in a wildfire or other inferno? Contact Evan, a California Property Damage Lawyer who handles fire damage claims.
You can sue for wildfire damage. Who is responsible depends on which fire.
- November 2018 Camp fire: blamed on faulty PGE equipment.
- July 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire: under investigation.
- July 2018 Carr fire: blamed on a flat tire.
- December 2017 Thomas Fire: blamed on SoCal Edison workers.
- December 2017 Liberty Fire: blamed on faulty SCE equipment.
- October 2017 Tubbs Fire: PGE electrical equipment suspected.
- October 2017 Redwood Valley Complex Fire: blamed on trees falling on power lines.
- October 2017 Atlas Fire: blamed on trees falling on power lines.
Most of the blame is based on California’s huge utility companies: SoCal Edison, PGE, and SCE. So says the New York Times.
Here are some theories of liability for a California wildfire damage claim:
- Negligence: argue that the utility company had a duty to follow a standard of care consistent with the inherent danger of providing and operating electrical equipment. Also consider if California Public Utilities Commission General Order 95 is helpful. Then argue that the utility company breached that duty, for example, by failing to design the equipment to withstand natural events, failing to remove vegetation as required by Public Resource Code § 4292, and failing to remove branches.
- Trespass: if your trees were damaged, you could get double or treble the amount of damages. See California Civil Code § 3346 and California Code of Civil Procedure § 733.
- Inverse Condemnation: this is controversial, but powerful. See this article here, and Evan’s blog below.
What can you recover in a fire damage claim?
You can recover damage to your real property (your home), personal property (your stuff), for losing access to your home (ALE), for losing business profits (BI), and emotional distress, at least with respect to tree damage.
Here are some of Evan W. Walker blogs with useful insurance information:
Fire can cause a devastating loss. If you think you have a fire damage claim or your insurance company is denying your fire damage claim, talk to a California Property Damage Lawyer who handles fire damage claims.
Here is some more helpful info:
Evan’s first years of law practice were spent defending Hurricane Katrina claims in New Orleans. He understands the tricks insurance companies use to deny your claim.
Call (858) 324-6606 for your free consultation.
Immediately make a claim with your homeowners insurance. Document all damage, take photos and videos, obtain the contact information for any witnesses. Separate what can be salvaged from what cannot be.
Fire damage can cost anywhere from $1500 to $150,000. What matters are your limits of insurance–you can find that information on the declarations page of your policy. The cost of smoke damage can also be high. Smoke damage can make a lot of your personal property non-salvageable.
A fire restoration company makes minor repairs to fire-damaged property and documents or salvages property. Most work with insurance companies. That’s not necessarily a good thing.
Most (if not all) homeowner insurance policies cover fire damage. There are, however, exceptions. And a homeowner must take certain steps to ensure a claim for fire damage is made properly.