California, while home to millions of proud residents, regularly undergoes extreme conditions of high temperatures and humidity. These conditions become some of the causes of California wildfires. Veteran residents are no strangers to wildfires that rage across the dry reaches of the state, posing great danger to the assets of all counties throughout Californian.
Some of the common counties to experience wildfires in California are:
- Los Angeles County
- San Bernardino County
- Ventura County
- San Luis Obispo
- Tuolumne County
- Mendocino County
- Orange County
- Mariposa County
Do not let insurance companies profit from your necessity for insurance then abandon your need in times of crisis. Our team of California wildfire lawyers at Era Law can represent your interests and work to make your voice heard.
Fire Damage From Wildfires
Your safety and the safety of your loved ones clearly come first in a wildfire crisis. Once the flames die out, however, it is time to evaluate and assess the damage.
Even if a wildfire did not completely wipe out your property, fire damage can run rampant in places you cannot see, and it can holistically ruin the structural integrity of your property. Remember that a professional inspection can help provide the information necessary for your insurance claim.
Smoke Damage From Wildfires
Conversely, smoke damage represents another important concern in the aftermath of a wildfire. Though not as immediately dangerous as hidden fire damage, damage from smoke on surfaces and belongings can be nearly impossible to rectify. Be sure to document accurately–providing images of and information about—the value of all property that the smoke affected.
In fact, Era Law, Inc. has helped many homeowners be whole again by fighting for their rights to a proper settlement and compensation for smoke, soot, and ash damages in many of the recent California wildfires including:
- Dixie Fire in Northern California
- Caldor Fire in Northern California
- The Bond Fire in Orange County
- The Bobcat Fire in Los Angeles County
- The Creek Fire in Northern California
- The SCU Lightning Complex Fire In Santa Clara County
- The North Fire in Santa Clarita
- The Palisades Fire in Pacific Palisades
After Wildfire: Steps to Take Before Hiring a California Fire Lawyer
Not all cases require legal representation by a professional California fire lawyer, nor does every case necessarily appear in front of a judge. This means that you only have a valid case for a lawsuit under a specific set of circumstances. Your first option should be to see what your insurance company offers in compensation for your fire and smoke damage claim.
As profit-making entities, insurance companies like to deny client insurance claims or offer compensation that seemingly undervalues those claims.
As a result, you must first scrutinize your case and your situation to evaluate the equity of what your insurance company has offered you. If the value of any fire or smoke damage on your property seems to match your insurance company’s offer, you should proceed with the claim normally.
On the other hand, if the values do not match up and you feel the offer is under-compensation, you may want to conduct further research or talk to a reputable fire claim attorney in California. It is very common to become the victim of bad faith actions from your insurance. Therefore, you need proper legal representation from an experienced fire lawyer.
Remember that your case does not constitute bad faith if your insurance company offered services or compensation that matched value but was not exactly what you wanted. Even if you desired more compensation, your insurance company still held up their end of the bargain to provide you with assistance.
Fire And Smoke Damage Claims After Wildfire
You only have grounds for a lawsuit if you can prove that:
- Your insurance claim was valid
- You provided everything necessary for your claim
- Your insurance company failed to assist you as necessary (or as is right for industry standards)
Here are some examples of qualifying circumstances for a lawsuit:
- Your insurance company provided resources that severely undervalued your property.
- Your insurance company denied your claim for seemingly no reason.
- Your insurance company used a contract loophole to avoid providing assistance.
- Your insurance company unreasonably delayed processing your claim.
- Your insurance company failed to investigate your claim thoroughly and comprehensively.
- Your insurance company reported false or misrepresented information on your claim
You must be able to provide accurate and detailed evidence for any of these circumstances. By lacking evidence, you allow room for the insurance company to refuse your claims as the baseless complaints of an angry client.
Our advice is to start making copies and keeping records of all correspondence between you and your insurance company as soon as you suspect any disreputable behavior from them. Doing so can help ensure the success of your case as you hire a California fire claim attorney.
As Another good practice, our fire claim attorney reads and gets familiarized with all of the fine print in your insurance policy. This helps to know what types of fires and incidents your insurance claim covers so no time or effort gets wasted preparing for a lawsuit when your policy does not even cover the incident you experienced.
California Fire & Smoke Damage Claims and Lawsuit Settlments
As a wildfire attorney firm committed to honesty and integrity, our team at Era Law does not seek to blow client expectations out of proportion. Our team encourages prospective clients to set up a free consultation with us to examine their situation to give you an accurate assessment.
Again, not every situation provides solid grounds for a lawsuit. With this in mind, we will clearly inform you about whether your case qualifies. We’ll provide reasons for our opinion so you do not invest time or money in a case that will not go anywhere.
That sentiment—to maximize client investments—also lies at the heart of our work. We want all California residents to feel confident in hiring us at Era Law as their legal representation.
With that said, our process begins with a written accusation letter that we send to the insurance company charging them with failure to act in good faith. This alone can prompt the insurance company to act and send an offer of compensation since they want to prevent wildfire litigation from progressing. Remember, the exact amount of compensation can vary depending on your circumstances.
This response typically comes from insurance companies that want to preserve their reputations as pristine and trustworthy protectors of their clients. For these companies, even the very existence of a lawsuit can harm their reputation, as well as their profits.
If your insurance company fails to respond with an offer, we will move forward with a personal injury lawsuit and begin preparation for your case. This step is where your collected evidence and records will come in to reinforce our argument.
Maximum Compensation With Experienced Fire Lawsuit Attorney
Our team members at Era Law have successfully handled many wildfire cases including incidents from 2021 wildfires in California and we have represented fire victims all over in California. While this statement is correct, we also understand it may not convince you about why we should be your pick for legal representation.
We readily welcome and urge all prospective clients to look through and read our past client testimonials for unaltered, honest evaluations of our work. We speak confidently to our accomplishments as trial lawyers due to our 96% success rate with over $50 million in total funds recovered for our clients.
Our team is well-educated, highly experienced, and more than adequately equipped to handle your case. We couple our credentials with a clear emphasis on our clients’ needs.
Clients often come to us after circumstances have already stripped them of their financial and property-based resources. What makes us their legal choice is our commitment to honesty and to making each client’s voice heard when profit-hungry companies seek to drown them out.
What many clients forget is that their insurance companies are not non-profit organizations. No matter what they may say, your insurance company exists to profit from your necessity for insurance coverage.
So while you may never wish for a fire to destroy or damage your property, your insurance company makes money from the possibility of bad things happening to its clients.
As personal injury attorneys, we make profits from our work as well—but only from the settlements in cases that we win. We do not profit if you do not win your case. We invest our professional time and effort without any charge to you up front in return for a percentage of the compensation we are able to win for you.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you believe you have suffered losses in a wildfire or are the victim of bad faith actions from your insurance provider. Call us today at (818) 476-0123 to schedule your free consultation with our Era Law team in Glendale, CA.
Smoke, Soot, and Ash Damage From a Wildfire
Disputes with your insurance agency over damage to your home due to smoke, soot, or ash resulting from wildfires can be devastating without the help of a California wildfire lawyer. Even if no damage resulted from direct contact with the wildfire’s flames, the invasion of smoke, ash, and soot in your property could cause serious issues. Not only does the smoke’s odor affect your belongings, but these wildfire byproducts can affect the air quality in your home, too.
Your home policy likely allots coverage for damage caused by ash, soot, and smoke. However, not all of the damage will be immediately apparent. Some damage could exist within your home’s forced-air conditioning ductwork, for example. That’s why it is essential to have the property professionally inspected for all damage after a wildfire event.
Unfortunately, there may be instances where the vendor that your insurer authorizes to conduct the inspection isn’t the professional that you need. If you believe your insurer’s vendor doesn’t have the qualifications to conduct a proper assessment, you should make your feelings known.
Some insurance agencies will be reasonable and respond to your request in kind, but others may deny coverage for other inspections outside of those they initially authorized. In the event of a denial for coverage of extra inspection fees, you can either file a complaint with the insurance regulator for your state to press your insurer for coverage or pay the inspection fee on your own.
A Checklist To Help You Identify and Document Smoke, Soot, and Ash Damage To Support Your Case
If your property sustained damage from ash, soot, or smoke from a wildfire, there are few steps you can take to make the process proceed as smoothly as possible:
- Even before you contact your insurance agency to file a damage claim, you can take documentation into your own hands. Make sure to take notes about any damage that is not apparent to the eye, such as odors or other respiratory irritants in the air.
- Photograph any visible damage as best as you can. If your health or the health of a family member begins to worsen due to the damage, contact your doctor.
- Continue to document the process and conversations you have as your insurer moves forward with property inspections. Although it can be uncomfortable for strangers to enter your home after a disaster, cooperation is key. These inspections help your adjuster determine if the agency should cover the damage.
- Conduct research on the vendor that your insurer chooses to handle your property inspection. Make sure the vendor is reputable, qualified, and trustworthy. If there are problems with the vendor, research your options for a second opinion.
- Your insurance agency has a legal duty to conduct a thorough investigation. If you don’t believe their authorized vendor conducted a full inspection, you might need to remind your adjuster of this obligation amicably. Be sure to make requests for additional inspections in writing.
You can speak with a California wildfire lawyer from Era Law, Inc. to discuss other measures you can take that can strengthen your case.
What Can Be Damaged by Fire Smoke, Soot, and Ash?
Even if your property does not take on structural damage from the wildfire, the byproducts from the flames can cause significant damage to many things in your home. Here are the most common examples:
- When smoke, ash, and soot enter your home through a ventilation system, open windows, or other avenues of entry, your personal property is at risk for damage. Any of your belongings made from porous materials can be easily damaged from exposure to smoke, soot, or ash, including artwork, curtains, rugs, and clothing.
- If you’re a homeowner with a green thumb, your lawn and garden may also sustain damage from soot or ash. When exposed to an abundance of soot or ash, your plants and crops might suffocate and stop growing. It can take time, energy, and money to remove dead plants and restore your garden.
- Your pools and hot tubs can also sustain damage from soot and ash. If your pool or hot tub’s sanitation system becomes inundated with ash or soot, it can cause it to become inoperable.
- Though plumbing might not be your first concern when considering what can sustain damage from wildfire ash, your pipes are at risk. As ash collects inside your pipes, it becomes wet and thick, which can compromise your plumbing system.
- One of the biggest worries when homeowners face smoke, ash, and soot damage is the property’s HVAC system. Soot, smoke, and ash can easily compromise your heating and cooling system because it relies on indoor and outdoor components.
Contact a Northern California wildfire lawyer at Era Law, Inc. if your insurance agency denies coverage for property or belongings that you believe sustained damage from ash, soot, or smoke.
Bad Faith Insurance
Even though you pay your insurance premium to have protection in times of need, sometimes, insurance agencies act in bad faith. If an insurer acts against you in bad faith, a California wildfire lawyer can help you determine grounds to file a lawsuit. Consult an ash and soot damage claim attorney if your insurer fails to live up to its obligations to you. Some of these obligations include:
- Your insurer must decide about your claim within a reasonable time frame.
- The insurance agency should not discourage or advise against finding representation from a wildfire smoke damage lawyer.
- An insurer needs to make genuine efforts to put equitable claims into effect.
- Insurance companies should not misrepresent any relevant evidence to your claim.
- The insurer should make you aware of any damage that their authorized vendor found during the inspection of your property.
If you find that your insurance agency worked against any of the above guidelines of good faith, contact a California wildfire lawyer with Era Law to begin building a bad faith claim.
Steps To Filing Smoke, Soot, and Ash Claims
Homeowners with property affected by ash, smoke, and soot from wildfires should document any evidence of the damage as soon as possible. If there is any photographic or video evidence of the damaged area before the presence of smoke, soot, or ash, this can also help your position when filing.
When you contact your insurance provider concerning the damage, an adjuster or an authorized company will come to your home to conduct a property inspection. Sometimes both the adjuster and a company representative will conduct examinations for damage. In many cases, when the inspection concludes, homeowners receive offers for compensation to cover damages.
When you receive an offer from your insurer, you should refrain from accepting an offer immediately. Taking an offer without researching costs to return your property to the pre-loss condition can result in out-of-pocket repairs if the insurer gives you an offer that is too low. Accepting offers also prevents you from opening a legal case against them.
It can be challenging to determine what amount is acceptable, particularly when many of your belongings and much of your property sustained damage. If you are unsure about your insurance agency’s offer, contact a California smoke damage lawyer for a consultation.
We Can Help You Seek Maximum Compensation
A California wildfire lawyer from Era Law, Inc. can work with you to put together a case to seek maximum compensation for the damages to your property. With the vast array of things that soot, ash, and smoke can affect following the wake of a wildfire, costs to repair, restore, or replace quickly build up.
Homeowners shouldn’t have to fight their insurance agencies for a proper settlement after disastrous events. That’s why the law offices of Era Law, Inc. fight for our clients and provide aggressive representation in the event of an insurance dispute. Each California wildfire lawyer from our firm has the dedication to protect your rights.
Fire victims who suffered property damage from California wildfires can contact Era Law, Inc. for free consultations concerning their insurance claim. Without representation in fire cases, wildfire victims can lose money when accepting low offers from insurance agencies. A wildfire attorney from law firms like Era Law, Inc. can help represent you for the best possible settlement.
Contact our offices today to begin discussing how we can assist you during wildfire litigation. The trial lawyers of Era Law, Inc. can also provide representation for a wide variety of personal injury lawsuits as well as insurance bad faith cases.