California Wildfires Attorney
California Wildfires Attorney

California Natural Disasters and Their Impact on Your Life

Various types of natural disasters can strike in the state of California.

Disaster Recovery Plan, DRP

California Natural Disasters and Their Impact on Your Life

Various types of natural disasters can strike in the state of California. The latest catastrophe occurred in the fall of 2017 when wildfires killed at least 35 people and burned 220,000 acres of land. The economic losses for the Northern California region were estimated at anywhere between three and six billion dollars, CNBC reported.

Several other types of natural disasters are possible in the state. Being prepared for such events is never easy but it can potentially save your life and diminish property damages.

Most Common Types of California Natural Disasters

Unfortunately, the most populous state in the US is also ranked among the ones most prone to natural disasters. Over the years, California has been affected by wildfires, earthquakes, landslides, floods, tsunamis and storms.

Apart from fires, earthquakes have also caused serious devastation and the loss of many lives. Two quakes stand out as exceptionally deadly and financially devastating – the 1989 San Francisco earthquake that killed 63 people and the Southern California earthquake from 1994 that contributed to the loss of 61 lives.

While the California wildfires are being considered a natural disaster, recent reports suggest that human activity has made them worse. Referring to the 2017 fires, media investigations show that nine out of 10 wildfires are the outcome of human activity. Over the years, more than 2.4 million acres of land in California have been scorched by wildfire as a direct consequence of negligence and human activity.

Preparing for Natural Disasters and Recovering from the Losses

Living in a disaster-prone area means that you need to prepare for an eventual catastrophe. There are several things you can do both before disaster strikes and in the immediate aftermath.

Getting the right kind of insurance is the first and the biggest essential. In the event of property damage following a covered event, you will get compensation for the destruction. Such financial resources can be invaluable when you’re trying to rebuild your home/business and return to normal life.

An emergency preparedness plan enacted before the catastrophe strikes is also important and it can save lives. Make sure you always have the needed supplies available and that every single family member knows how to escape to a safe place.

Assessing damages immediately after the natural disaster strikes is the next step. An insurance claim is based on such an assessment. The more evidence you have (in the form of photos, videos and even witness reports), the easier it will be to defend the insurance claim.

Finally, remember that insurance companies deal with a ton of claims in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Slowdowns are likely and the same applies to getting a small amount or having your claim rejected altogether. In such an instance, it’s crucial to get in touch with an experienced legal team that will help you get the compensation you deserve and you have been paying for over the years.

The Kalfayan erjanian law team can help you get back on your feet after surviving a natural disaster. Whether a utility company is under investigation for causing a wildfire or you’re struggling with your insurance claim, you will get professional assistance and support throughout the process.


Collect Evidence

The first thing to do after getting to disaster site is to assess the damage. For best results, bring a camera or a smartphone along. Pictures and videos of the immediate property condition can give you the evidence needed to demand fair insurance compensation after a wildfire. This is also the time when you should begin drafting an insurance claim journal that will feature all the vital data.

Contact the Insurance Company

It’s difficult to emphasize the importance of getting in touch with your insurance agent as soon as possible. The claims process starts once you establish that first contact. In the case of wildfire damage, insurance companies deal with thousands of claims, so calling them right away will speed your claim. When you call, an adjuster will be assigned to your case.

Remove Debris/Minimize Damage

Refrain from doing cleanup before the adjuster visits the site. The only exception is for debris or damaged structures that will pose a danger or contribute to additional property destruction. In such instances, you can perform minor cleanup. Always use a camera or video to document the original condition of the property before getting started with safety removals. The photos and videos should be available during the insurance adjuster’s visit.

Work with an Adjuster

Adjusters are responsible for documenting the loss and assessing the scope of the damage. You have to be present at the venue when the adjuster arrives to carry out an inspection. The losses will be documented thoroughly, establishing the settlement amount a homeowner will be offered. On occasions, the insurance company’s adjuster may come up with a number that’s too law. In such instances, homeowners should either consider hiring public adjusters who aren’t employed by insurance companies or getting in touch with an experienced attorney.

Assess the Scope of Work

The scope of work is a detailed plan that will give you an idea about the most important processes to complete for the purpose of restoring the property. If you don’t have the knowledge and the experience to assess the scope of work on your own, you should either visit the property site with a contractor or a public adjuster. The stages of restoration work will also be determined this way.

Find the Right Contractor

Restoring your property is all about hiring an experienced, knowledgeable team to handle all of the tasks. Finding the right contractor is going to be a challenge in the aftermath of a widespread natural disaster. Still, take your time, check references and ask for referrals before hiring anyone. Contractors who get in touch with you or rush you into a signing an agreement should make you suspicious.

Communicate with Insurer & Save Receipts

Communicate with the insurance company on a regular basis and enter all of the information in your claim journal. Keep receipts of the cleanup or hazard elimination work you have done for the purpose of communicating these costs with the insurer later on. If correspondence with the insurance company is taking place via email, save these digital logs. The level of documentation should be similar to getting ready for a lawsuit or an audit.

Get Professional Assistance

If you believe that the insurance company is postponing the provision of financial compensation or that you’re being offered an amount that’s too low, you should get in touch with an experienced attorney. A lawyer will represent your interests, negotiating with the insurance company and getting started with a lawsuit upon necessity. While some homeowners worry about the cost of legal assistance, the financial implications are going to be much more serious in the case of unfair compensation or a denied insurance claim.


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Do I have a wildfire personal injury or property loss claim?

Whenever a link can be established between someone’s negligence and the injuries or property loss you experienced, there can be a claim. Your California wildfire attorney’s goal would be to seek evidence and expert testimonies that will result in a better understanding of the wildfire that contributed to devastation in your region and to build a strong case for you.


Do electric companies have a history of causing wildfires in California?

In 1994, PG&E was found guilty of over 730 counts of negligence in connection to a wildfire in Nevada County. The fire that destroyed 12 homes resulted from omissions in PG&E’s tree cutting program. The total fine was approximately $30 million. In 2015, the utility company was fined for its contribution in the so-called Butte Fire that destroyed 549 homes and led to two casualties. While PG&E had to pay serious fines, over 1,000 lawsuits are still pending. A fine was also imposed for the 2010 San Bruno explosion.


Why do I need an attorney if I have insurance?

Often, problems with insurance claims arise in the aftermath of California wildfires. Many homeowners are not fully insured and are unaware of the extent of the compensation they might receive. In addition, insurance companies may award unfair amounts to cut their losses. Whenever an insurance company denies a claim or offers a settlement that seems unjust, it’s wise to seek assistance from experienced California wildfire attorneys.


How much can I recover in the aftermath of a wildfire?

There is no exact formula when it comes to calculating wildfire victims’ compensation. Each case is unique and California wildfire attorneys examine multiple factors. The extent of injuries and property damage, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering must all be considered. Estimates might be made by reviewing similar cases, but those award amount are a guideline for potential compensation, rather than representative figures of what to expect.


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