Fire is indeed a destructive force. It is not only capable of destroying your home but can destroy the memories you had attached to it as well. When the flames come for your home, you need to be prepared for the possibility that you will lose your property and things around it, like furniture and family portraits. Thankfully, there are lawyers who specialize in fire damage cases like yours.
Our expert team is here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation. You don’t pay until you win.
Fire is indeed a destructive force. It is not only capable of destroying your home but can destroy the memories you had attached to it as well. When the flames come for your home, you need to be prepared for the possibility that you will lose your property and things around it, like furniture and family portraits.Thankfully, there are lawyers who specialize in fire damage cases like yours. They know the right questions to ask and possible courses of action.
No one is ever prepared to lose a home to fire, but having an attorney by your side certainly helps. At Avian Law Group, we understand the emotional implications of a fire and will be right by your side every step of the way in your fire damage claim. Fire damage can devastate a home and family, but we can help you through every step of the claim to make it easier.
Types Of Fire Damage Cases
Fire damage lawyers and property damage attorneys can help with what is called “whole-home fires.” These are fires that affect the entire structure of your home. These often occur when you cannot extinguish a fire or leave it unattended causing significant structural damage.
Other fires are called “partial-home fires,” which encompass circumstances such as a fire in the kitchen that sprays flames onto the carpet and walls. Some of the most common causes of these fires are unattended cooking, defective heating appliances/tools, or even arson.No matter what fire caused the damage, a fire insurance claims attorney will help you recover from your losses and get back on your feet.
Does My Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Wildfire Property Damage?
A wildfire (sometimes referred to as a bushfire, forest fire, brush fire, or vegetation fire) is the rapid spread of wildland fires, which consume primarily dry forests or woodlands. They commonly occur in northern California and southern California during periods of hot weather and strong winds that are often mistaken for windstorms.
The actual fire is the burning of combustible plant matter. Typically, this occurs in the summer through dry periods, although wildfires occur all year round. Wildfires threaten habitats and communities but are essential to particular ecosystems.
Fortunately for homeowners, most wildfires are covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. While the out-of-pocket expenses to you as a policyholder can be pretty high, your insurer (assuming they are a legitimate, reputable insurance provider) will take the brunt of the cost.
How Much Wildfire Damage Does a Homeowner’s Insurance Policy Cover?
The average homeowner’s policy will cover the structure of your home and related personal possessions up to an agreed value. This amount will typically be determined by the amount you paid for your home.
1. Dwelling Coverage
The dwelling coverage is the coverage for the building itself. This can include the floors, walls, and ceilings of your home. It does not include the furniture, fixtures, or appliances inside it. The homeowner’s insurance policy will cover the loss of the structure itself, not the furnishings inside it.The amount available for dwelling coverage is a specified amount. Your home’s replacement value will determine how much you have insured this amount.
2. Coverage For Detached Structures
Typically a detached structure refers to a garage, shed, or other outbuildings. The standard features of a separate structure are that it is secure and off the ground.This coverage is typically not required by most policies but is still recommended. As with a dwelling, the amount for this coverage is determined by your home’s replacement value and your policy’s limits.
3. Personal Possessions
This property coverage is different from the dwelling coverage.
In this case, it is your personal possessions in your home, your lanai (commonly called a ‘backyard’), and your garage. It may include your pets, firearms, or other items as well.Home furnishings such as sofas and drapes are usually covered, as are personal items such as jewelry, cameras, and other valuables. Any possessions and jewelry (including wedding rings) you would like to be insured for must be insured separately in your homeowner’s policy.
4. Personal Liability Coverage
This coverage extends to legal costs incurred by the insured if they are sued over bodily injury or property damage that they caused due to negligence, even if no one was injured.
5. Medical Payments to Others
This optional coverage pays for the medical expenses for someone else you are held liable for due to bodily injury.
6. Living Expenses
This coverage pays for living in a temporary dwelling if your home is uninhabitable due to a covered loss. The amount available to cover this expense is a specified dollar amount, which your policy will determine.
7. Lawns, Plants, Trees, and Shrubs
This coverage pays for repairing or replacing damaged trees, shrubs, and plants resulting from a covered loss. Your policy determines the amount available to cover this expense.
A condo insurance policy in California will only pay for the damage to a home’s interior walls. This coverage will cover the interior walls of the condo. It will not cover the common area of the building itself or any other unit or structure of the building.
The homeowner’s association master policy determines what the coverage is and what the limits are.
1. Interior Walls Coverage
This type of coverage will pay for the damage to the interior walls of a condo. It will not cover the common area of the building or any other unit or structure.
2. Personal Property Condo Coverage
This covers the cost of replacing personal possessions like clothes, furniture, and other household items. It will also cover the cost of your valuables, such as jewelry, collectibles, and electronics.
3. Loss of Use
This coverage will pay for the additional cost of a necessary temporary dwelling if your home can no longer be lived in due to a covered loss. It may also cover the loss of time and productivity while in a temporary dwelling.
Steps to Take if Fire damages your Home or Business
1. Evaluate Your Loss
Your compensation is subject to your policy’s terms and conditions. You need to evaluate your damage and take pictures before contacting your insurer.
2. Understand the Importance of Carrying the Right Insurance
Your home and business are your most valuable possessions. While most homeowner’s policies will cover the structure of your home and its personal belongings, some policies may cover only the dwelling or personal items.
Buying the right insurance for your property is essential. In some cases, you may need additional insurance to replace the contents of your home if it has been lost or damaged. You must ensure your policy covers both “acts of God” and arson. A fire damage lawyer will know if your coverage is adequate and will advise you accordingly.
3. Carefully go through Reviews
Ensure you have a reliable review of the company you intend to work with. You are best positioned to evaluate your claim and ensure you are dealing with the right company.
4. Seek the Compensation you Deserve
The last and most crucial step you must take if your home or business is damaged by fire is to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Seeking compensation is vital because it will help you recoup your losses. A fire damage attorney will be able to help you with this process. California fire damage law is complex, and you should refrain from trying to handle your case yourself.
How to Document and Estimate Fire Damages in California
In the aftermath of a fire in California, homeowners and business owners often find themselves overwhelmed by the damage and the looming recovery process. One of the critical steps toward recovery is documenting and estimating fire damages. Proper documentation can expedite insurance claims and serve as evidence if disputes arise. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help:
Prioritize Safety: Before you begin, ensure that it’s safe to re-enter the property. Check with local authorities or fire officials before entering your home or business. There might be hidden dangers, such as structural damage or electrical issues.
Begin Documentation Immediately: The sooner you start documenting the damage, the better. Over time, evidence might be lost, especially if cleanup or repairs begin.
Take Photos and Videos:
Capture the exterior of the property, showing the structure from all angles. Document individual rooms, including ceilings, walls, and floors. Capture close-ups of specific damages to items. Document any damage to vehicles, outbuildings, or landscaping. Make a List:
Create a detailed inventory of damaged items. For each item, list the description, brand, age, estimated value, and a brief note on the extent of damage.
Gather Pre-Fire Documentation: If possible, gather photos, videos, or inventory lists you might have from before the fire. These can serve as “before” evidence, illustrating the state of the property and items before the incident.
Note Additional Damages: Beyond direct fire damage, look for:
Water Damage: Resulting from firefighting efforts. Smoke and Soot Damage: This can affect not only structure but also personal items, leading to a lingering odor or staining. Mold Growth: Water damage can lead to mold if not addressed promptly.
Collect Financial Documents: Gather documents that can help prove the value of damaged items. This could include receipts, credit card statements, appraisals, or warranties.
Get Professional Estimates: For significant damages, especially structural, it’s essential to get professional estimates:
Contractors: Can provide estimates for building repairs or reconstruction. Specialized Professionals: For unique items, like antiques or jewelry, you might need a specialized appraiser. Restoration Companies: These companies can offer estimates on cleaning, deodorizing, and restoring damaged items and structures.
Record Interactions: Keep a log of all communications related to the fire damages:
Conversations with insurance representatives. Meetings with contractors or appraisers. Communications with local authorities or fire officials.
Review Insurance Policy: Familiarize yourself with your insurance policy’s terms:
Understand your coverage limits. Note any policy deductibles. Identify any exclusions or limitations. Determine if you have additional living expenses (ALE) coverage, which might pay for temporary housing, meals, and other essential costs.
File a Claim Promptly: Once you’ve documented the damages, contact your insurance provider to initiate a claim:
Provide them with the documentation, photos, and estimates you’ve gathered. Cooperate with the insurance adjuster, who will inspect the damages to determine the compensation amount. If disagreements arise regarding the claim amount, the documentation will be vital. You might also consider hiring a public adjuster to represent your interests.
Store Documentation Safely: Ensure that all photos, lists, receipts, and estimates are stored in a safe location. Consider making digital backups and storing them in cloud storage or an external drive.
The Difference Between an Arson Case and a Case of Negligence
Arson cases are criminal-based, and the offender in an arson-related case will likely be asked to pay compensation. This may be different in cases of negligence.A claim for damages caused by your negligence is civil; therefore, you can ask the party to whom you owe compensation to pay your losses. A case of wrongful death may result in a large sum of payment.
An experienced fire damage lawyer can help you with your case and may write a document you can use to negotiate with the offender or their insurer in your claim. California law may limit how much you can recover, so obtaining assistance from a competent lawyer is imperative.
Contact Avian Law Group for Assistance With Your Claim and fight for full compensation
Most California lawyers can provide experienced advice and representation in your claim, but not all know enough about fire damage law to guide you in the right direction.
Why Choose Us?
Our fire damage lawyers have successfully handled many cases of both arson and negligence over years of experience. We will use their experience to ensure your claim is handled with the care and attention it deserves. We will work with you to ensure your claim is resolved in your favor, and we will do everything we can to recover the money you need in compensation for your losses. Contact us today for your free case evaluation.