Lingering effects from the fires: Law firms and insurance companies

It has been more than two months since the Bluecut Fire, but residents unknowingly continue to suffer its aftermath.

Though homeowners living in the High Desert are no strangers to brushfires, most are not aware of what smoke and ash damage is, the negative effects that follow it, what their rights as homeowners are, and what measures need to be taken in order to restore the property back to its pre-damaged state.

Contamination?

While homes in the High Desert area appear to be “clean,” they are far from it. The evasive nature of smoke and ash allows it to travel through the structure of a house, where it will linger unless professionally cleaned. For instance, the ash builds up and gets trapped within air conditioning ducts and filters, and consequently contaminates the air being blown from the air conditioning system.

Moreover, all fabric-based materials (e.g., carpets, couches, drapes, and clothes) within the home absorb and retain the smoke unless professionally cleaned. Accordingly, adverse health effects will continue to linger unless proper measures are taken to restore the property.

Common health effects

The aforementioned smoke and ash damage has caused thousands of residents to suffer a broad range of health effects. While these health effects have been exacerbated for many, they are newly developed for some. Common medical effects include asthma, bronchitis, wheezing, coughing, allergies, migraines, constipation, and nausea.

Some homeowners even have noted that eating fruits and vegetables from their garden that were exposed to the smoke and ash causes them to have an upset stomach.

Why do law firms send out informative fliers?

Some skeptics like to label these types of fliers as “unsolicited” forms of advertisement. However, the reality is that homeowners are kept in the dark and are unaware as to what the damages are and who they can turn to for help.

After talking to thousands of homeowners, we found that an alarmingly low percentage of homeowners actually are aware that their Homeowner Insurance Policies cover smoke and ash damage, and those who are aware either know because they filed a claim in the past or a friend or family member passed on a letter they received from a law firm.

As unfortunate as this is, do we actually expect the insurance companies to notify their insureds that they can file a smoke, ash and soot claim and receive money for purposes of restoring their house? Probably not.

Thus, firms like Legal One Law Group, APC send out these informative fliers to homeowners in order to inform them of their rights before it’s too late.

While most are unaware of this sort of coverage, others have suffered at the hands of their insurance company. They may have filed a claim, been pushed around by their insurance company, and received an extremely low and unfair settlement.

Homeowners are susceptible to accepting low settlements for these types of claims because smoke and ash damage is not visible to an untrained eye and thus it is difficult for a homeowner to competently advocate for a larger settlement.

Therefore, law firms send out experienced field representatives to ensure that all damages are accounted for at the time of inspection and attorneys will zealously negotiate a settlement until the final amount is a fair representation of how much damage a home has incurred.

Homeowners need to know that they have remedies for the damage that their homes have suffered, whether this knowledge is gained through experience or through an informative flier.

Homeowners no longer need to be lost and alone. They have somewhere they can turn and someone they can count on for help.

Legal One Law Group, APC has a fire specialist on staff who is trained and well versed in smoke, ash and soot damage. In addition, Gayane Gevorkian, the managing attorney, has a vast amount of experience in representing homeowners in claims against insurance companies.

If you are a homeowner and have suffered any of the above mentioned medical effects within the past few months or have witnessed smoke and ash on your property as a result of the fire, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Legal One Law Group, APC, APC, is at 121 W. Lexington, Suite 307, Glendale, CA 91203. For information, call (818) 446-2009 or email us. Nothing in this article is intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. Articles and hosted comments are available for general educational purposes only and should not be used to assess a specific legal situation. Nor does any comment on an article create an attorney-client relationship.