Paradise Camp Fire Attorneys
California’s recent Camp Fire ravaged Paradise and surrounding communities. With more than 18,000 structures destroyed and dozens killed, it’s the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history. If your family suffered losses or injury as a result of the Camp Fire, you may be dealing with insurance headaches, delayed claims, and more. The California wildfire attorneys at Bentley & More LLP are committed to helping you understand your legal options following this disaster. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.
What to Do After the Camp Fire
Now that the Paradise Camp Fire is out, many residents are at a loss and don’t know where to turn for help. It’s important to understand how your actions can affect the processing of your claim. The lawyers at Bentley & More LLP recommend taking the following actions to protect your claims and facilitate the process:
- Preserve all evidence. Save copies of all your correspondence with your insurance company, as well as copies of your medical bills and records. Save receipts for hotels or alternate transportation such as rental cars.
- Create an inventory of your losses. Many people in Paradise lost their entire homes and all their possessions, so this step can be difficult. However, it’s important to inventory your losses as best you can. Whenever possible, include the approximate date of purchase and value at purchase for each valuable item.
- Get everything in writing. Don’t accept a claims adjuster’s promises at face value – remember, you’re dealing with a for-profit company that loses money for each claim it pays out.
- Contact an attorney. It’s a good idea to have an attorney review all claims and offers before making any agreements or signing on the dotted line. This helps ensure that you’re getting a fair payout for your losses.
Dealing With Insurance Companies After a Wildfire
Large-scale events like the Paradise Camp Fire can lead to a number of issues, especially with insurance companies. As a policyholder, you essentially pay for a promise each month. In exchange for your money, your insurance company promises to pay out a claim that replaces your home with its actual cash value – assuming that your claim is in line with the terms of your policy.
Unfortunately, not all insurance companies make good on their promises when the time comes. They use tactics to pay out as little on claims as possible or deny them altogether. Understanding an insurer’s responsibility to you is one of the best ways to protect your family from insurance bad faith.
What Is Insurance Bad Faith?
Insurance laws in the state of California require that all insurers exercise good faith and fair dealing when investigating and paying out claims. In other words, they must use fairness and honesty when evaluating the veracity of a claim and what it’s truly worth. Failure to do so is called bad faith, and can lead to additional financial consequences for the insurer. If an insurance company is caught exercising bad faith, it will not only be responsible for paying out the claim in question, but it may have to pay additional damages.
Insurance bad faith may occur in many forms, but some of the most common examples include:
- Making a “lowball” offer for losses
- Denying a claim without investigation
- Manipulating the results of an investigation
- Unreasonably delaying a claim decision
Some insurance companies try to use a policyholder’s lack of knowledge regarding insurance law to get away with bad faith actions. If you suspect that your insurance company is not being honest or fair in processing your claim, contact the personal injury attorneys at Bentley & More LLP as soon as possible. The simple act of involving legal representation can cause insurers to take your claim more seriously.
If you suffered losses in the Paradise Camp Fire, contact the attorneys at Bentley & More LLP to discuss your legal options in a free initial consultation as soon as possible.