Wildfires are currently burning over 40,000 acres in California, and that’s just from three current fires in southern and central parts of the state. The Clayton fire in Clear Lake and the Chimney Fire in San Luis Obispo County have also claimed 220 structures, many of them homes.
Some insurance policies cover natural disasters, but many do not. And not every insurance settlement covers the cost of losing a home or other damage. So what happens if you suffer loss or damages from a wildfire? Can you sue?
Most homeowners’ insurance generally covers fires, but that may only apply to accidental house fires. Wildfires might be a whole other ballgame as far as your insurance carrier is concerned, especially if you live in certain areas of California or other regions prone to wildfires. Additionally, the destruction that a wildfire can cause is much greater than your typical house fire, and can claim trees, vehicles, and other structures on your property. Therefore standard insurance may not provide enough coverage to allow you to replace everything you lose in a wildfire.
So check your insurance policy, even before a wildfire threatens your property. You’ll need to know what’s covered before you know what action to take. If you think wildfire damage is covered under your policy and the insurance company refuses to reimburse you or their payment is inadequate to cover the damage, you may have a legal claim against your insurer.
If a fire was started by human causes — whether by an individual or a business, on purpose or accidentally — you may be able to sue whomever started the blaze. Obviously arson is a crime, and you may be able to use a criminal prosecution as the basis for a civil claim for restitution. And negligence claims are the most common civil suit.
The best source for wildfire liability is an experienced attorney. Contact one today regarding your claim — most are happy to review your case for free.
- Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury)
- Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Natural Disasters? (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)
- Insurance Claims: What To Do After A Fire (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life)
- Cause a Forest Fire, Go to Jail (FindLaw Blotter)