Fire Damage Attorney in Hialeah
In the last five years, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 354,400 home structure fires per year. These fires caused $6.9 billion in direct property damage annually. 
No one expects to be the victim of a fire. Whether you live in a home, apartment, or condominium, a residential fire can cause serious damage and heartache and the aftermath of dealing with fire cleanup can be just as stressful. The attorneys at Schlacter Law in Hialeah are proficient in home fire insurance claims and can assist you in the complex claim filing process. We work swiftly to negotiate just compensation that will help you return to normal.
Common Causes of House Fires
In 2014 alone, there were nearly 1.3 million fires in the U.S., causing more than $11.6 billion in property damage.  While no one expects to be the victim of a Hialeah residential fire, most common household activities and fixtures pose a risk for igniting a blaze. In fact, the leading causes of fires in residential buildings include:
- Cooking accidents, accounting for 49% of all home fires
- Heating accessories (space heaters for fireplaces and chimneys), resulting in over $1 billion in direct property damage annually
- Electrical malfunctions, leading to $1.4 billion in direct property damages every year 
Insurance companies will generally cover structural damages due to accidental fires. If arson is suspected, the insurer will usually send an investigator to discover the source of a house fire.
Regardless of how the fire on your property occurred, a fire damage claims lawyer in Hialeah can assist you in preparing your insurance claim and negotiating a settlement with your insurer.
Hialeah Fire Damage
A fire can spread quickly and cause widespread damage to the exterior and interior or your home. Structures and personal belongings burned will need to be repaired or replaced. Whether a fire was contained quickly or destroyed many parts of the home, it is important to understand that flames and smoke are only part of the problem. Even if a fire only affects one part of a building or Hialeah residence, it can set off chain reactions throughout the rest of the structure. Examples include:
Smoke and soot damage: The smoke and soot associated with a fire can cause both visible and hidden damage beyond the area of the original fire. Thick, black smoke left behind from burnt synthetic materials like electronics, plastics, and fabrics rises quickly and clings to walls and objects, leaving behind a smudge-like residue. Dry smoke residue from paper and wood burn is usually powdery and dry and easily falls into cracks and porous surfaces. While the soot will be hidden from view the smell will remain. If you live in an apartment or condominium in Hialeah, the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system could carry particulates from a single fire throughout the rest of the building. Soot and smoke leave behind strong, lasting odors that can discolor, stain, tarnish, corrode, and pit surfaces and materials in your residence.
Sprinkler damage: According to the American Fire Sprinkler Association and the non-profit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, the average fire loss in a home with a sprinkler system is $2,166 as opposed to $45,019 in a home without fire sprinkler protection.  However, depending on where the fire suppression sprinklers go off in a multi-story apartment or condominium, you may still experience secondary water damage if the sprinklers go off on nearby floors. A fire in a Hialeah community building can also set off many types of chain reactions throughout the rest of the building. While beneficial in the short term, the water in sprinkler systems is often dirty and can cause damage to personal property when it mixes with soot from the fire and may contain things that could make you sick.
Chemical exposure: When non-organic materials are burned, they release extremely toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are hazardous to long-term health and can be lethal if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed by the skin.  Some of these negative health effects can be felt immediately or sometimes don’t appear for many months or years. Additionally, many automatic fire suppression systems common in Hialeah residential buildings have some sort of chemical in them that will leave residue on anything it contacts. These messes require special cleanup and precautions.
Secondary structural damage: While fire will already cause damage to your home, some of the damage may also be a result of the firefighters doing their work to put out the fire. To gain entry or allow ventilation to slow the fire’s growth, firefighters often break windows or cut holes in the roof or walls. Additionally, depending on the extent of the fire, firefighters could use hundreds of gallons of water to put out the flames. Water will cause damage in itself, and standing water left after a fire could cause mold damage.
Utility interruption: In most fire situations, many utilities such as water, electricity, and gas, will be temporarily interrupted or lost. The Hialeah fire department will perform a preliminary evaluation of the safety of your utilities after a fire and will shut off all services found unsound. Fires can fry electrical wiring in the walls, melt pipes, or otherwise damage utility structures in your home. If your utilities have been turned off, contact Code Services for information on when and how to have your utilities turned back on.
Recovering quickly after a fire requires (relative to circumstances) awareness of the basics of the recovery process including key insurance considerations. An experienced fire loss attorney can also advise you on how to proceed with filing an insurance claim. The team at Schlacter Law in Hialeah knows how destructive a fire can be to your property and how emotionally devastating it can be to your family. We work with compassion and purpose to make sure your claim is filed quickly and completely according to your specific policy. We are also prepared to take legal action in the event your claim is delayed, undervalued, or denied by the insurance company.
Fire Damage Insurance
After the fire is put out, you should promptly notify your insurance company–homeowners, renters, landlords or other contracted property insurer. If you are a tenant in Hialeah, your landlord or property owners association will begin the process of restoration. If you are a homeowner, your home insurance company will be the key player in initiating the cleanup process of your home. The insurance company may need to give you authorization to contact a restoration company and may require you to take immediate action to prevent further damage and secure your fire damage claim. Schlacter Law can handle the claim process for you as well at no cost up front. Schlacter Law only gets paid if they recover compensation for your loss.
You will likely be required to secure your property after a fire. If doors, windows, or walls were damaged by the fire or by firefighters, you will need to board up the property to prevent theft, vandalism, unauthorized entry, and damage from the elements. Your homeowners policy will cover the damage of the fire but further damage or theft that results after the fire is put out from the home not being properly secured may not be. Your insurance agent can authorize a Hialeah restoration company to help you secure your property with tarps or boards. Our recommendation is to do your research first on any of these specific companies. When in doubt, call Schlacter Law for a free assessment.
If the Fire Marshal or Code Services notifies you that your residence is unsafe and you cannot resume living there, remove items of value that can be salvaged such as personal identification, credit cards, bank books, important documents, jewelry, and additional valuables, as well as any necessary things. Make a note of belongings removed and a list of things that were lost or damaged in the fire. Save a copy of the inventory to submit to your insurance representative or fire claim attorney if applicable.
Consider photographing or videotaping the damaged areas of your home for further documentation to support your claim. The insurance company will most likely launch its own investigation into the source of the fire and send a claims adjuster to assess the damages. Keep a copy of all documents and pictures submitted to the adjuster or insurance company. Having your own record could be key if disputes ensue.
If water was a means of extinguishing the fire, it is also important to address water damage with the insurer. Water can cause structural damage and ruin personal belongings. Ask about a timetable for addressing water damage, as standing water can also lead to further damage caused by mold.
After these initial concerns are resolved, your insurance company will ask you to proceed with filing a claim so that cleanup work can begin, property and belongings restored or replaced, and you can resume your normal life. If your insurance company fails to address your claim promptly and completely, a home fire damage attorney in Hialeah may be able to keep your claim on track and ensure you are justly compensated. When in doubt, call Schlacter Law for a free assessment. Remember the insurance company is skilled at finding reasons to deny or underpay your claim. They have teams of lawyers behind them. Do not go at it alone. Schlacter Law is here to help you file your claim.
- https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools/Building-and-Life-Safety/Home-Structure-Fires ↩
- https://firstonsite.com/wp-content/uploads/files/guides/interstate_fire_guide.pdf ↩
- https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Top-fire-causes/Electrical ↩
- https://www.firesprinkler.org/WWW/News/Facts_and_Figures/WWW/Facts_and_Figures.aspx?hkey=f6e1e8af-0e24-4a9b-a8a3-3ee3a7ff1fdf ↩
- https://www.titan911.com/fire-damage-cleanup/ ↩
- https://www.redcross.org/content/dam/redcross/atg/PDF_s/Preparedness___Disaster_Recovery/Disaster_Preparedness/Home_Fire/FireFAQs.pdf ↩
- https://www.ready.gov/home-fires ↩
- https://www.lincolncounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/7724/Now-That-The-Fire-Is-Out?bidId= ↩
How We Handle Cases
- Your attorney will aggressively investigate your case. Schlacter Law will compile all necessary evidence needed to maximize the value of your case. Which includes but is not limited to photographs, police reports, security camera footage, witness statements, medical bills and medical records.
- You will remain in constant contact with Schlacter Law about the progression of your case.
- Your attorney will present your case to the insurance company and will attempt to resolve your case before the case goes to court for maximum compensation.
- Your attorney will make every effort possible to resolve the case as quickly as possible for the most amount of money you may be entitled to. You will be actively involved in the negotiation process with your attorney. Schlacter Law understands that this is your one opportunity to get justice for your loss.
- If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, Schlacter Law will be fully prepared to bring your case to court to fight for the justice you deserve.
- At no cost to you, Schlacter Law will hire any experts and professionals needed to maximize your recovery and present your case in the strongest form possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some common problems with fire insurance claims?
Insurance companies often employ bad faith tactics when dealing with fire damage claims, such as undervaluing property damages, and delaying or denying claims.
A fire damage insurance claim is a type of property damage claim and must be filed to the exact specifications of your policy description. Hialeah insurers often require a third-party investigation to determine the cause of the fire and ask for verifiable evidence of damage to support your claim. As a business, insurance companies often look for reasons to delay, deny, or underpay your claim. Some examples of common insurance tactics include:
- Overlooking or undervaluing property or personal damage
- Purposely delaying a claim filed close to insurance deadlines
- Reducing or denying payments without fair or reasonable basis
- Alleging arson and threatening to prosecute in an attempt to deny or lower the payment
- Violating the terms of the insurance policy
- Delaying communication and payments in an attempt to frustrated you into accepting a low payment
How can a fire property damage attorney help?
A professional fire damage claim attorney in Hialeah has the knowledge and expertise to help property owners file insurance claims or litigate to receive a proper fire damage settlement.
When you are dealing with the destruction and aftermath of a residential fire, the last thing you want to do is go to extreme lengths to receive compensation from your property insurance company. The fire loss lawyers at Schlacter Law in Hialeah have the resources to help conduct an objective analysis of your fire cause and complete evaluation of damages incurred to present the best claim to insurers. We learn and go by the letter of your particular policy, ensuring your claim will not be foiled by bad-faith tactics. We help property owners understand all their options, make the strongest claim to insurers, and review settlements to make sure you are properly compensated.
What if I don’t have insurance?
While most people purchase some sort of property insurance to protect their belongings, those without insurance will have to contact local Hialeah aid groups and organizations for fire damage relief assistance.
The National Fire Protection Association found that the average cost of damage from a house fire during 2006 was more than $17,000.  In the event a fire damages a dwelling that is not covered by insurance, residents must rely on others.
Start by contacting a local disaster relief service for aid or assistance, such as the American Red Cross, if you need temporary housing, food, and essentials. For repair or cleanup assistance, community groups or private organizations may be able to assist with volunteer work or monetary donations.
Make an inventory of ruined belongings and personal effects. When replacing items, save any receipts for money you spent related to fire loss. The receipts may be used later for verifying losses claimed on your income tax.  You can also check with an accountant or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss. 
If the fire was caused by a third party or you suspect that it was caused by the negligence of your landlord. Contact Schlacter Law immediately for a free case review.