Fire Damage Claims: A Guide to Legal Action After Fire Damages Your Home
Fire departments get calls to respond to fire emergencies in the U.S. every 24 seconds. These emergencies often cost billions of dollars in damages, personal injury, and emotional suffering.
If fire wrecks your home, you should learn more about fire damage claims as you weigh legal options. The claim may revolve around causes of fire, like defective products, improper chemical use/storage, or gas line leaks. You may also file it against the rental property owner, defective product manufacturer, or insurance company.
Either way, you'll need a lawyer experienced in fire damage claims to pursue the lawsuit. And here's what the legal process for fire damage to a home will involve:
Understanding Fire Damage Claims and Theirs Causes
Fire damage cases on homes rank among the most common and expensive insurance claims. They also cost a lot when you pursue a lawsuit.
A fire damage lawsuit may stem from arson or negligence. Arson is a type of fire accident caused directly by someone else. On the other hand, negligent actions can indirectly lead to a fire outbreak.
Your home may suffer smoke damage from fire due to faulty or improperly maintained electrical fixtures. The loss can also stem from an explosion brought by poorly installed, repaired, or maintained gas lines or leaks.
You may blame the fire on a faulty water heater or furnace. Improper chemical use or storage is also to blame.
Fire damage on your property can be extensive if you don't have fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, or smoke detectors. It may also result from a wildfire, unattended burning trash or tossed cigarettes.
Since fires have numerous causes, you can direct your claim to several parties. The claim will help you hold them liable for your losses and damages.
Parties Responsible for Damages or Losses Caused by a Fire Accident
You can only pursue the claims process once you identify the parties responsible for the fire. But this task is quite challenging, especially if the fire stems from a natural disaster.
The top legal issues in property damage and fire injury cases include intentional acts, negligence, and defective products. As such, the responsible parties can include the rental property's owner, the property's contractor, or the defective product seller. Other parties include manufacturers of faulty products and the insurance company.
You can list the manufacturer of a defective product as a defendant in a defective product lawsuit. The court will only allow you to do this if their products caused a fire in your home. The products may include electrical appliances, heaters, and water heaters.
When filing a negligence lawsuit, the defendants include the property's owner, the seller of the defective product, and the property's contractor. The lawsuit will hold them accountable for their negligent actions.
You may also sue the rental property owner for failing to maintain or install fire safety fixtures. These fixtures include smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and fire alarms.
If someone else's intentional act causes fire damage to your house, you may file a personal injury lawsuit against them. The intentional act may take the form of arson or vandalism.
You may list an insurance provider as a defendant in the lawsuit if they fail to compensate you for your losses. But you need to have proper coverage with the insurer.
Legal Remedies for a Fire Damage Claim
If a fire accident results in injuries, you can file a claim for compensatory damages. The claim is still valid whether you hold a party liable for product liability or negligence.
For a case based on a negligent act, your lawyer has to show that the responsible party failed to act with care. They should also prove that the negligent acts caused property damage or injuries.
If it's a product liability claim, your lawyer must show the relationship between the defective product and the defendant. Your case should also center around an improperly sold, distributed, installed, or manufactured product.
Depending on the lawsuit or claim, you can recover property damage and pain and suffering costs as compensatory damages. The court may also award you damages for loss of life enjoyment, lost income, and medical expenses.
If you lose a loved one from the incident, a lawyer for fire damage can help file a wrongful death case. The lawsuit will help hold the responsible parties liable for your loved one's death.
Why Seek Legal Advice After a Fire?
Navigating the insurance compensation process is quite daunting without legal help. It's also difficult to identify the defendants if the case involves multiple parties. You should hire a lawyer to help hold the responsible parties accountable.
Insurance providers always work against the interests of claimants. As such, they are likely to prolong the compensation process intentionally or deny you the damages. They may also compel you to settle for a lower amount.
A lawyer can take you through the legal processes and court proceedings involving insurance claims and lawsuits. They can inform you about your rights to avoid incriminating yourself.
Dealing with the Insurance Company After the Fire Damage
When coping with fire damage to your home, certain expenses will arise. Paying for these expenses out of pocket can be costly. That's why you should seek financial assistance from an insurance company.
If your home insurance policy covers house fire damage, you can file a compensation claim to recover your losses. You can also file the claim against the liable party if they have liability insurance. Either way here's how to proceed when dealing with the insurance provider:
Secure the House Against Further Damage
Insurance providers expect claimants to take certain steps to reduce damage to their properties. For instance, you should get the fire extinguished in time.
The insurance provider will only compensate you for the losses on certain conditions. They will want to know if you took any measures to prevent further damage.
An advance payment from the insurance company can help cater for your living costs outside the house after a fire accident. Ask the insurer for an advance payment against the total homeowners' insurance claim. Share with them receipts of your current living expenses to prove that you need basic amenities.
Also, check your insurance policy before pursuing a claim. Look at the extent of coverage for damages caused by fire.
File the Insurance Claim Immediately
The insurance provider will expect you to report the fire damage right away. So, don't hesitate to contact their representative through email or phone.
Once you contact the insurer, you must prove that you lost valuables from the accident. You should also find out the market value of all items damaged in the fire.
It may take longer to pursue the compensation claim if you fail to notify the insurer on time. You may also have difficulty with the claim if you don't organize the facts properly.
A lawyer can help you look for evidence that may form part of your compensation claim. They will also help you track any forms of communication with the insurer.
Involve a lawyer in the case to help speed up the process. With their legal expertise, you can overcome the scare tactics used by insurers to deny you compensation.
If you file a claim involving your homeowners' insurer, continue paying the premiums. The insurance provider may agree to compensate you if you are an active paying client.
Get Repair or Replacement Estimates
Repair or replacement estimates can form part of the evidence when seeking compensation from an insurance provider. If you have homeowners insurance, it may allow you to repair or rebuild the house.
You can only do fire damage restoration for a policy revolving around a home's actual value. As such, the insurer will only pay for expenses that will return the property to its initial state.
Insurance policies with replacement cost coverage allow you to replace the property's contents or structure. But the replacement costs should match the policy limits.
If you seek compensation from someone else's liability insurance provider, check their coverage limits. Review these limits to see if they cater to repair or replacement costs.
Your lawyer can hire an estimator to help value the property's repair or replacement costs. The contractor needs to have a background in construction and insurance claims.
You may also have to work with an independent adjuster to negotiate compensation. The adjuster can negotiate a better deal while relying on your lawyer's legal guidance.
Never Rush to Settle the Claim
Insurance providers are always hurrying to close claims to avoid larger payouts. But the longer you choose to pursue the claim, the higher the chances of discovering additional costs and getting the right amount of compensation.
During the claims process timeline, your lawyer can help you identify losses you previously underestimated. They will also negotiate a better deal with the insurer.
The insurance provider may try to force you to accept a settlement amount. If you accept the offer, you will no longer pursue the claim.
Fire Damage Attorney Near Me: Schedule a Consultation
Since fires that torch homes are quite destructive, you should understand your legal options and rights as a victim. Discuss with a fire damage attorney about the possible compensation amount. Seeking compensation for the damages can help you return to your normal life.
Daniels Law is here to help when looking for a legal team to handle complex fire and personal injury cases. Count on our help to pursue fire damage claims and get fair compensation. To discuss your claim with a lawyer from Daniels Law, schedule a meeting today.