Fires can cause extensive property damage regardless of the causes of ignition. Homeowners often suffer minimal damage or complete loss of property, material possessions, and other inventory throughout properties. When this occurs, homeowners may be able to recover compensation for their losses by filing insurance claims with their insurance companies.
However, because insurance companies often minimize or deny property damage claims, it is wise for victims to contact experienced legal representation right away. A property damage lawyer can ensure a homeowner recovers the amount of compensation they deserve to cover expenses that arise due to the fire.
To help, our Southern California property damage lawyers at Schimmel & Parks, APLC have listed things property damage victims should do following a fire:
Protect Your Assets from Further Damage:
Many insurance policies state it is the insured's responsibility to take reasonable steps to minimize property damage. In legalese, these acts are known as the insured's duty to "mitigate damages." This can include but is not limited to the following acts:
- Covering a leaky roof with a tarp to prevent water damages caused by broken pipes
- Stopping smoldering to protect another fire from igniting
- Boarding up the property to protect vandalism if property is left with openings
If the insured allows further damage to occur, an insurance company may not cover the costs of damages to the home or its contents.
Take Pictures of the Damage:
It is important for a victim to take pictures of the property after a fire has occurred. The homeowner should be sure to include every accessible, safe angle and include pictures of any contents within the home. This can increase the chances of the insurance company providing compensation for all lost or damaged contents and parts of the home.
Understand the Insurance Company May Be Responsible for Paying for a Restoration Contractor:
According to an article published by LA Times, an insurance company should pay the expenses of a licensed or certified restoration contractor. The restoration contractor must submit an itemized bill to the insurance company.
Contact an Attorney:
In most cases, an insurance company will attempt to settle for less than a homeowner deserves and may not consider the hidden effects the fire may have on a person's home when they determine the amount of compensation. For this reason, it is wise for a property damage victim to consult an experienced lawyer to ensure he or she receives the full value of his or her claims.
Our Firm Can Help You Understand Your Insurance Policy and Your Rights
Our legal team at Schimmel & Parks, APLC understands that living conditions and situations involving insurance coverage can be complicated after a fire has damaged a family's home. Our Southern California team can help disaster victims understand their rights and insurance policies. We have ample amounts of experience handling these types of cases.