California Wildfires Attorney
California Wildfires Attorney

Smoke Damage after the California Wildfires: Flames Aren’t the Only Danger

Most people fear the flames that consume everything on their way once a wildfire

Smoke Damage after the California Wildfires

Smoke Damage after the California Wildfires: Flames Aren’t the Only Danger

Most people fear the flames that consume everything on their way once a wildfire starts. The fire itself isn’t the only danger. Smoke and deadly gases can be lethal and they can also contribute to extensive property/agricultural damage.

The Damage Caused by Smoke

The smoke from the deadly California wildfires has caused damage on several fronts.

For a start, the chemicals from the fire will have a massive impact on grapevines and the taste of their production. All of the grape crop that wasn’t harvested prior to the disaster has been contaminated. As a result, the grapes can be expected to have an ashy taste that will obviously diminish the quality of the wine produced from them.

Property itself can also suffer from smoke in several distinctive ways.

Dry and wet smoke residue are most common. Whether powdery or smeared, the residue will accumulate and it will either be difficult or impossible to clean. Protein residue and residue from the fire extinction efforts also classify as smoke damage.

Cleaning, resurfacing and replacement are the three typical methods that can address smoke damage. Professional restoration will be required, especially when the damage is extensive and spread throughout a house or a commercial venue.

These are the tangible ways in which smoke’s effect is felt in the aftermath of a wildfire. It’s even more important to remember that the inhalation of the smoke can lead to severe health consequences. Wildfires lead to the exacerbation of respiratory diseases like asthma. In the worst cases, the poor quality of the air and the contamination can make it impossible for the brain to get sufficient amounts of oxygen and function properly. Headaches, nausea, fainting have all been observed in individuals exposed to wildfire smoke.

Dealing with Smoke Damage and Injuries

Wildfire insurance claims should also cover the damage caused by smoke. Insurance companies are responsible for providing coverage for the restoration, as long as there’s sufficient evidence of the destruction caused by the particles in the air and the harmful gases.

People who have suffered health consequences as a result of smoke inhalation need to visit a medical facility immediately. The treatment can prevent serious complications in the future. If you’re about to get medical assistance, you will need to get a report about the issue.

A medical report and evidence of damage could be used to sue parties that could have caused the fire with their negligence. Utility companies like PG&E and Edison are currently taking the blame for the California wildfires. Investigations are ongoing and the allegation is that the poor maintenance of electrical equipment has led to the fire.

Whether you plan to sue a utility company or you’re having troubles with an insurance claim, consulting an experienced attorney is of paramount importance. A legal professional will know what it takes to gather enough evidence and build a strong case on your behalf.

The Kalfayan Merjanian law team knows how devastating wildfires can be. As a result, we’re more than eager to represent our clients passionately. Please do not hesitate to contact the team today and have your most pressing questions answered for free.


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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