SUNLAND, Calif. (FOX 11) - Here's the full statement from Legal One Law Group; one of the law firms that sent out mailers to residents living near the La Tuna Canyon Fire.
While the smell of smoke and the presence of ash may seem trivial, the evasive nature of smoke and ash allow it to travel through the structure of a house, where it will linger unless professionally cleaned. For instance, the ash builds up and gets trapped within air conditioning ducts and filters, and consequently contaminates the air being blown from the air conditioning system.
Moreover, all fabric based materials (e.g., carpets, couches, drapes and clothes) within the home absorb and retain the smoke unless professionally cleaned. Accordingly, adverse health effects will continue to linger unless proper measures are taken to restore the property.
Common Health Effects
The aforementioned smoke and ash damage has caused thousands of residents to suffer a broad
range of health effects. While these health effects have been exacerbated for many, they are newly
developed for some. Common medical effects include respiratory problems, allergies, migraines,
constipation and nausea. Some homeowners even have noted that eating fruits and vegetables from their
garden that were exposed to the smoke and ash cause them to have an upset stomach.
Why Do Law Firms Send Out Informative Fliers?
Some skeptics like to label these types of fliers as "unsolicited" forms of advertisement. However, the reality is that homeowners are kept in the dark and are unaware as to what the damages are and who they can turn to for help.
After talking to thousands of homeowners, we found that an alarmingly low percentage of homeowners actually are aware that their Homeowner Insurance Policies cover smoke and ash damage, and those who are aware either know because they filed a claim in the past or a friend or family member passed on a letter they received from a law firm.
As unfortunate as this is, do we actually expect the insurance companies to notify their insureds that they can file a smoke, ash and soot claim and receive money for purposes of restoring their house? Probably not. Nor do we expect insurance companies to payout generously.
Thus, firms like Legal One Law Group send out these informative fliers to homeowners in order to inform them of their rights before it's too late.
Homeowners are susceptible to accepting low settlements for these types of claims because smoke and ash damage is not visible to an untrained eye and thus it is difficult for a homeowner to competently advocate for a larger settlement.
Therefore, law firms send out experienced field representatives to ensure that all damages are accounted for at the time of inspection and attorneys will zealously negotiate a settlement until the final amount is a fair representation of how much damage a home has incurred.
Homeowners need to know that they have remedies such property damage, whether this knowledge is gained through experience or through an informative flier.
LEGAL ONE LAW GROUP, APC
The fliers warn of health complications that may develop after a fire due to smoke and ash debris.
Residents we spoke to were just getting back to normal when they started receiving multiple solicitations from attorneys.
On Facebook, residents expressed disgust and annoyance. FOX 11 talked to a couple of people who were down right offended and felt the attorneys swooped in too soon after the fire.
Nicole Vermollen lives down the street where three houses burned. She felt like the attorneys were trying to profit on someone else's tragedy. But the attorneys I spoke to from Legal One Law Group call their mailer informational.
Because there are time limits on how long a homeowner can file a claim with an insurance company, Legal One just wanted residents to know they'd fight for what they deserve. The statement reads in part, "…do we actually expect the insurance companies to notify their insureds that they can file a smoke, ash and soot claim and receive money for purposes of restoring their house? Probably not. Nor do we expect insurance companies to to payout generously. Thus, firms like Legal One Law Group send out their informative fliers to homeowners…"
Perhaps, but Philip Martin worries ...file a claim and watch insurance premiums go up, or worse get canceled by the insurance company.