Top 10 Pieces of Information Your Wildfire Lawyer Needs ASAP

Surviving a wildfire disaster 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 disaster victims and their families move forward with the financial assistance they 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 ten pieces of information to your California wildfire attorney as soon as possible could prevent you from losing the right to file and obtaining other resources through your insurance carrier.

Information Your Wildfire Lawyer Needs

Insurance Policy Information

First, your lawyer will need information about your homeowner’s insurance policy. You may qualify for damage recovery through your insurance plan. You could receive immediate disaster assistance and 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.

Total Acreage

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 California 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 man-made structures, garages, sheds, outbuildings, barns, personal property, 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.

Deed Information

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 living on your property at the time of the disaster. If you have any children under your roof, include their ages. 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 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, 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.

Types of Evidence Needed by Your Insurance Company in a California Wildfire Case

After experiencing California wildfires, presenting a strong and well-documented claim is crucial for obtaining the compensation you deserve. The basis of a successful claim lies in the accumulation and presentation of compelling evidence.

Understanding the role of evidence in proving your claim is essential, as it substantiates the extent of your losses, the cause of the wildland fires, and the link between the responsible party’s actions and your damages.

Types of evidence required: 

  • Photographic and Video Documentation: Before and after photos or videos of your property, structures, and any personal belongings that were damaged or destroyed in the disaster. Visual evidence is powerful, providing a stark comparison that highlights the extent of destruction.
  • Financial Records: Gather receipts, appraisals, and bank statements that show the value of lost or damaged property, including the cost of repairs, replacements, and any temporary accommodations or living expenses incurred due to the fires.
  • Official Reports: Fire department reports, police reports, and, if applicable, investigation reports from agencies like the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. These documents can establish the wildfire’s cause and pinpoint liability.
  • Medical Records: If personal injuries were sustained, medical records and expenses related to the treatment of these injuries are crucial. These documents not only prove the occurrence of injuries but also quantify the medical expenses involved.
  • Witness Statements: Accounts from neighbors, friends, or family members who witnessed the wildfire or its effects on your premises can provide additional insights and support your claim.
  • Correspondence with Insurance Companies: Retrieve copies of all communications with your insurance adjuster, including submitted claims, responses, and any settlements offered. This evidence can be vital if there are disputes over coverage or the amount of compensation.
  • Expert Testimony: In some cases, expert witnesses, such as fire investigators, environmental scientists, or construction professionals, may provide testimony or reports that support your claim, especially regarding the cause of the fires and the cost to rebuild or repair.

To prevail in a lawsuit, you must demonstrate not only that the defendant (such as a utility company) was responsible for causing the fire through negligence or other wrongful actions but also that this causation directly led to your specific losses.

Evidence plays a dual role here: establishing the link between the defendant’s actions and the fires and quantifying the damages you’ve incurred as a result.

Overcoming Challenges With Evidence

Wildfire disaster claims can be complex, and challenges may arise, such as disputing parties questioning the validity of your evidence or its relevance to the wildfire. Anticipating these challenges and having a comprehensive collection of evidence can help overcome such obstacles.

Our legal services include organizing and preserving all evidence from the outset, as missing or incomplete evidence can weaken insurance claims.

Legal Assistance in Evidence Collection

Legal professionals can help offer legal services and identify the types of evidence that will be most impactful for your claim, assist in the collection process, and use this evidence effectively to argue your case, whether in negotiations with adjusters or in court against the responsible parties.

How to Choose the Right Wildfire Attorney and Legal Services

Selecting an attorney to represent you in a wildfire disaster claim is a critical decision that significantly influences the outcome of your case. The following guide helps you choose the right wildfire attorney, ensuring you have the best possible legal services for your case.

  • Focus on Specialization: Look for attorneys who specialize in wildfire claims or have a significant portion of their practice dedicated to similar environmental or property damage litigation. This specialization ensures they are familiar with the nuances of wildfire law and the specific challenges these cases present.
  • Check Their Experience: Consider the attorney’s experience in handling wildfire cases and the claims process specifically. How many cases have they handled? What were the outcomes? Experience with local and state regulations affecting wildfire litigation is also crucial.
  • Review Past Successes: Investigate the attorney’s track record with cases similar to yours. Successful outcomes in previous wildfire cases can indicate a lawyer’s ability to navigate the complexities of the insurance claims process effectively.
  • Ask for References: Reputable lawyers should be able to provide references from past clients who have faced similar situations. Speaking with these clients can offer insights into the attorney’s performance of legal services and client satisfaction.
  • Assess Their Resources: Handling wildfire claims often requires substantial resources, including access to fire experts, environmental scientists, and other specialists. Ensure the lawyer or their firm has the resources necessary to build a strong case on your behalf.
  • Capability to Go to Trial: While many cases settle out of court, your lawyer should be prepared and capable of taking your case to trial if necessary. This willingness can also strengthen your position in negotiations.
  • Communication Skills: Your lawyer must be someone you feel comfortable communicating with openly. They should be able to explain difficult legal concepts in understandable terms and keep you informed throughout the process. You should always be able to ask legal questions at any time.
  • Personal Compatibility: It’s important that you trust your lawyer and feel comfortable with their approach to your case. You will be working closely with them, so a good personal fit is essential for a successful partnership.
  • Understand the Fee Structure: Wildfire attorneys typically work on a contingency fee basis, which means they get a percentage of the settlement or verdict. Ensure you understand the fee structure, including any costs that might be incurred during the litigation process.
  • No Upfront Costs: Ideally, the lawyer should not require any upfront fees. Expenses associated with preparing and presenting the case are usually advanced by the attorney and reimbursed from the settlement or award.
  • Schedule a Consultation: Most wildfire lawyers offer a free initial consultation. This meeting is an opportunity for you to present the details of your case, get legal aid, ask questions, and assess whether the attorney is the right fit for you.

By taking the time to research and meet with potential lawyers, you will find legal assistance that meets your needs and also offers the best chance for a favorable outcome in your wildfire claim.