California Wildfire Attorneys
If you have lost your home to a wild-fire, or a wild-fire has damaged your property, or worse yet, caused the death of someone you care about, it is vital that you speak with an attorney as soon as you can. Even the best memories can fade, evidence can get lost, and witnesses can become unavailable.
Consultations with our attorneys are FREE, and you don’t pay anything unless we recover on your behalf.
With over 35 years of experience, we understand the challenges you are likely currently facing, and will face in the near future. We can not only answer the questions you’ve thought of, but we can likely give you answers to those questions you haven’t thought of yet.
How to pay for a place to stay after you are forced out of your home.
If you were a home-owner with a homeowner’s insurance policy, your policy may have included an allowance for alternative living, usually referred to as an Alternative Living Expense Allowance. Although that allowance can be extremely helpful, it does not last forever and you may soon find out that that allowance will expire, if it hasn’t already.
Additionally, here are just a few issues you may have to deal with, if you haven’t already:
- If you did not consistently increase the coverage of your homeowner’s insurance over the years, your policy likely will not cover the cost to replace your house, replace any ancillary structures, etc. at today’s prices which are likely drastically more than they were when you obtained your policy.
- Your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy likely does not cover your cherished possessions – such as family photos or things your children or grand-children may have given or made for you which are priceless.
- Your insurance policy may not reimburse you for the wages you (and/or your significant other) have lost as a result of the event.
- You may have had (either naturally or by you planting them) valuable foliage near or around your house which you should be reimbursed for losing. You may find it difficult to prove the existence of these to the insurance company.
If your insurance policy does not fully cover the replacement value of your home, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Gregory Montegna can help you. As an example, the valuable foliage near or around your house may be accounted for by using an overhead image taken from Google Maps to identify and help give value to the trees and foliage around your house which existed at the time of the fire. Because of our experience, there are other approaches our firm knows how to use, to help negotiate your case and get you what you deserve.
We (and/or our experts) can look to the ‘source’ of the fire that took your home, and work to identify the entity or party that ‘caused’ the fire, or caused a condition(s) that allowed it to spread, and caused the damage to your house and property.
At the Law Offices of Gregory Montegna we have the knowledge, access to experts, and are experienced in constructing cases to prove the liability of the party that caused the fire (or caused it to spread), and can file the claims for the damages you (and your family) have suffered, that are not covered by your homeowners’ insurance.
Of the fires that have occurred this year, approximately between 80% to 90% were caused by a utility company, or they caused the fire to spread. Because utility companies have been in this type of situation before, they have the experience, resources and knowledge on how to oppose your claim and stone-wall you, the individual home-owner, from getting what you’re entitled to.
Types of Loss Caused by Fire Damage
- Loss of house / residence
- Structural loss and/or damage
- Hospital bills and Healthcare costs
- Lost Wages
- Mental anguish
- Loss of Pets
- Smoke damage
Contact our California wildfire lawyers today to schedule a free review of your situations so you may know your legal options.
What To Do After a Wildfire
If you or your family has suffered injuries, lost a loved one, incurred property damage, or suffered other losses caused by a California wildfire, it is important to take steps to protect your rights. It is recommended that all wildfire victims take the following actions:
- Take notes and document everything - Save all the communication with the insurance company, all receipts for expenses you incur such as hotels and alternate transportation, make copies of all medical records and medical bills if applicable.
- Create a record of your losses – all the items destroyed by the fire should be covered by your insurance policy and such losses should be replaced with their actual cash value. Account for and keep an inventory of all your possessions and damaged items. Next to each item you purchased, make a note (as best you can remember) of when and from where, you purchased each item.
- Get a copy of the fire report – In the event of a wildfire, if possible, get a copy of the report if it is available. It can be helpful when dealing with the insurance company regarding your claim.
- Do not make any determinative statements to any insurance representative (including your own). Likely when you are on the phone with an insurance representative the call is being recorded and what you say can be used against you/your claim.
* Speaking with an attorney as soon as possible can help protect against you making statements that can be used against you/your claim. Additionally, getting legal representation involved early in the process can cause the insurance company to take you and your claim more seriously and reduces the chance the insurance company will low-ball you and commit insurance bad-faith
What Is Insurance Bad Faith?
Our California courts have determined that there is a big difference between good-faith negotiating, and an insurance company (a more informed entity likely in a more powerful position) taking undue advantage of someone in a less informed, materially less powerful position, that has no other option than to take the insurance company’s offer. An insurance company’s failure to pay out a claim in good-faith, or pay within a designated time frame may constitute insurance bad-faith. A few examples of bad-faith actions can include:
- Unreasonably low-balling a submitted claim
- Manipulating the findings or evidence of an event’s investigation
- Unreasonably denying a claim
- Misrepresenting the language in a policy
- Unreasonably delaying a claim payout without a reasonable explanation
As you can see, there are steps that can be taken if an insurance company acts in bad-faith when dealing with a claim.
Call the Law Offices of Gregory A. Montegna at your earliest convenience. We can answer your questions and give you an idea of the value of your case. We can talk with you over the phone, you are welcome to come into our offices, or we can meet you and your family at a location convenient to you.