Today’s video is about how insurance companies try and prove arson in fire cases. A fire damage attorney is responsible for defending you in this instance. One of the most difficult things for an insurance company to prove in a fire case is whether or not the homeowner or the business owner deliberately set the fire.
Why You Need a Fire Damage Attorney
Under Florida Law, an insurance company can make a case for arson based not entirely upon evidence of accelerates or things that are unusual at a particular property. They can also build a case against an insured on circumstantial evidence. This is very frightening for most homeowners, who start seeking a fire damage attorney.
Most of the time homeowners will come to us after they get a request for information from the insurance company. This is a situation where a homeowner has had a fire and has reported a claim, but suddenly they find that they are being invited to the office a lawyer working for an insurance company so that they can sit down under oath and answer complex questions about their family history, their finances and anything at all that may have to do with that particular home.
Let me give you a couple of illustrations. We have recently worked on a case where the expert witness retained by the insurance company declared there was no evidence of arson. Yet, ten days later the insurance company hired a lawyer who requested access to the last seven years of financial records; banking records, tax returns and credit card receipts from the insured.
Additionally, they asked the insured to provide a list of family members – not just who were living in the particular home, but also individuals that had known this person their entire life. In fact, they flew to Minnesota in this particular case to interview an uncle who was living in a skilled nursing facility about whether or not the insured had caused the fire. Insurance companies trying to make a case for circumstantial intentional burn will go – will have no limits in terms of what they do to gain information.
That’s when we have to get involved. If you review a moderate insurance policy, most of them it says that the insured has a duty to cooperate and that the insured has a responsibility to answer requests for documents. Okay, but we don’t interpret that to mean that because you filed an insurance claim for a fire that you are now presumed guilty in the context of arson.
See, there’s a difference between civil arson and criminal arson. To prove that someone has criminally, intentionally, deliberately started a fire, you have to be able to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt. But in a civil case, that requirement only requires the insurance company to demonstrate it by a greater weight of the evidence. Most insurance companies who are fighting arson cases, do not choose to fight against an insured unless they have an expert who says that they found evidence of accelerates in an unusual place in the home. But that’s not all insurance companies. Some insurance companies will hire investigators on virtually every single fire and sometimes spend as many as four to eight months chasing insureds down for additional documentation and require them to appear repeatedly to explain what they believe to be disparities in their record.
Let me say something about fire claims, they are the kind of claim that requires the participation of an experienced lawyer, more than all of the others. I would strongly recommend that if you had had a fire loss that you, before doing anything consult with a lawyer who knows how to deal with insurance companies. If you have suffered a fire loss, either at home or business, you need appropriate counsel in dealing with the insurance company. Please visit our website at www.CorlessBarfield.com or give us a call. You take care of your family and we’ll deal with the insurance company.