Top 10 Pieces of Information Your Wildfire Lawyer Needs ASAP
Surviving a wildfire can lead to significant property losses, medical bills and personal injuries. While a wildfire lawsuit against PG&E cannot reverse these losses, it could help your family move forward with the financial assistance you need. You may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information a wildfire claim demands – especially with a claim-filing deadline that is less than three months away. Getting these 10 pieces of information to your California wildfire lawyer as soon as possible could prevent you from losing the right to file.
Insurance Policy Information
First, your lawyer will need information about your homeowners insurance policy. You may qualify for damage recovery through your insurance plan. You could receive immediate relief through your insurer; then, if your PG&E lawsuit succeeds, part of your settlement or verdict will go toward reimbursing the insurance company. Provide information such as your company name, policy number, everyone listed on the policy and the address of your insured property.
Make a note of the total acreage of your damaged property or properties. If you do not have this information, conduct a public records search or hire a surveyor to find out. Jotting down your acreage is especially important if you own properties that exceed 20 acres.
Structures on Your Property
Your lawyer will also want to know about anything permanently placed on your property. Make a list of elements on your land such as manmade structures, garages, sheds, outbuildings, barns and natural resources. Your lawyer will need to know certain information about every structure on your property that suffered damage: the square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and number of stories. You can guess at square footage, if necessary.
Give your lawyer a copy of your property deed (not the original). The deed proves you are the owner of the property. It also contains important details about your estate. If you lost your land deed in the fire, obtain a new copy through your county clerk’s office.
Assessor Parcel Number
The assessor parcel number, or APN, of your property is a number a tax assessor assigns for record-keeping purposes. Find your APN on your property deed, annual property tax documents or the title report.
Names and Ages of People on the Property
Give your lawyer the names of everyone who was living on your property at the time of the fire. Include ages if you have any children under your roof. Make a note of who had to evacuate from the property. A family can submit a single lawsuit if they are related and living together.
Business Income Loss
Damage claims for losses involving a business require specific information about these losses. If your business burned down, you lost business because of local fires or you had to miss work to evacuate, include these damages in the information you give your lawyer.
Vulnerable Individuals on Your Property
If you have vulnerable people living on your property, such as the elderly or infirm, make a note of this on the documents you send your lawyer. Cases involving the elderly and/or people in very poor health are top priorities.
Gather details about any fencing on your property. Your lawyer needs to know the fence type, materials used, its height and approximately how many feet of fencing you had on your property. You may have multiple types of fencing, all of which could be eligible for damage recovery. Draw a picture of your fence for your lawyer, if necessary.
Your Evacuation Story
Finally, tell your story. Describe your experience in detail. Write down what happened and how you felt during the evacuation. Did you see flames, smell smoke, hear explosions, suffer an injury or see someone else get injured? Include these and any other parts of the experience that made an imprint on your mind. Describe your fear, anxiety or stress, or if you felt like you would not survive. Your story in your own words can make a poignant impact during your case.