San Francisco Fire Claims Lawyer
Recent droughts have resulted in over 2 million California homes listed as high risk for wildfires. Worse, in 2017, wildfires contributed to 46 fatalities and over 200 non-fatal injuries in California. Urban areas, like Santa Rosa — previously listed as low risk for fire hazards — have now had whole subdivisions burn down. As a result, victims have filed for billions of dollars in fire claims. However, most insurance policies are written by a team of lawyers with knowledge of California fire claims. This can make it difficult to get a fair settlement, especially if you lost everything in a fire. Additionally, with such widespread devastation, it can take over a year to resolve your insurance claim. Then, contractors may charge more than insurance will ever pay to rebuild what you lost. In the meantime, victims of California fires may have nowhere to live and few resources available to them to provide for their families.
Losing your home or business in a blaze is like losing your legacy. Losing a loved one to a fire is like losing part of yourself. While we cannot bring back what you lost, we may be able to recover compensation to help you move forward. At Mary Alexander & Associates, P.C., our San Francisco fire claims lawyers have a strong history of protecting victims of wildfires and other fire claims. A premises liability attorney could represent victims, like those of the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire and Santa Rosa wildfires. We can help you identify what contributed to the fire and work toward a satisfactory settlement.
How Does Filing a California Fire Insurance Claim Work?
Fire insurance protects you and your assets by insuring you or your property under certain conditions and events. The details of fire insurance policies change depending on the asset, person, injury, fire type and geographical location. Insurance companies often rank different areas as low to high risk of fire, based on various factors. The higher the risk, the more challenging it is to file a successful claim and the higher the premium you pay.
Unfortunately, fire insurance in California is constantly changing due to so many recent catastrophes. As a result, insurers are taking a hard look at fire claims. Be prepared — insurance adjusters will try to lower your claim. Tactics to lower settlements by insurance companies sometimes involve:
- Cut Coverage: Your insurance company may change the terms of your policy without telling you. Unannounced coverage changes are common during policy renewals. Companies are so aggressive with this tactic that there is a proposed California state bill to limit these changes.
- Confusing Plans: The unfortunate truth is that most people do not read through their entire insurance agreement. Deductibles, out of pocket costs, coverage and other items may be miscalculated due to an unnecessary and complicated narrative.
- Refusal of Renewal: Thousands of fire insurance policies in California are denied renewal if the renewal originates from an area hit with a fire disaster.
- Quick Settlement Offer: When an insurance company offers you a quick settlement for the fire damage to your property, business or injury, it is advised that you proceed with caution. Adjusters often use this tactic to pressure policyholders to settle before they understand the full extent of the damages.
However, a qualified San Francisco fire claims attorney can help you fight back against these unethical tactics and get the compensation you deserve.
Who May Be Liable for Widespread Fires?
Liability for a fire usually depends on how it started. A wildfire may seem like a natural disaster, but usually a person or business is to blame for starting the blaze. In northern California, downed power lines are the leading cause of wildfires. For example, PG&E may be to blame for the 2017 Tubbs fire, as poor maintenance likely contributed to the downed power lines that started the fire. If a power line falls and causes a destructive wildfire, then it is possible that the local municipality shares liability. Additionally, some counties and cities refuse to shut down grids during a blaze, which can potentially increase the length of the fire.
General negligence and arson may also be the cause of devastating fires. Someone may intentionally start a fire for the purpose of insurance fraud or vandalism. In other cases, a property manager may fail to install fire retardant materials on a property. While it may be easier to identify liability in some of these cases, some claims are more abstract. For example, Californians are debating over who is liable for housing built in fire-risk areas. Critics point to bad planning as a potential reason for catastrophes like the Tubbs fire. Irresponsible construction or planning of apartments and homes may create new risks.
Due to the incredible amount of damage a fire can cause, these types of claims require creative thinking and extensive legal knowledge. Our San Francisco attorneys have the experience necessary to fully investigate these fire claims. Whether you lost a home in a wildfire or were affected by a serious structure fire, we can gather evidence and keep you up to date on any changes to the law. With genuine enthusiasm and years of experience, you can be confident that we will explore every option.
Benefits of a San Francisco Fire Claims Lawyer
Has your home, apartment or commercial property been damaged in a fire? Have you lost a loved one or sustained injury due to a blaze? Are you still waiting for contractors to rebuild your property and hope they charge you fairly? Our firm can provide you with the legal counsel you need to bring the swift resolution you are looking for. We can see if there are other options available for you to maximize your settlement. You can be confident about your fire claim because we are aggressive litigators with a proven record of success.
You do not have to feel alone or that all is lost after a fire. Our San Francisco fire claims lawyers will use every resource available to expedite your repairs and get you a satisfactory settlement. If you experience a loss of property, sustain injuries or lose a loved one in a fire, then we can help. We can guide you through wrongful death fire claims, large-scale property damage cases and everything in between. Through a free initial consultation, we can let you know if you may be able to maximize your compensation.