Moving Forward After a Fire

As your Panama City house fire law firm, The Pittman Firm stands ready to help area residents after a blaze. According to WJHG, area firefighters responded to flames at an Alabama Avenue apartment around 3:30 A.M. on Tuesday. Flames engulfed the first and second floor of the structure located near Gulf Coast State College. Officials noted that rain, wind, and lightning increased the difficulty of the firefighter's work and created a danger that the flames would spread to surrounding trees. Power company officials also responded by turning off power, and the Red Cross is expected to assist victims. Thankfully, WJHG reported that no injuries arose from the fire. Investigators have not yet determined the cause of the blaze.

Key Steps to Remember After a Fire

While it is information no one ever wants to need, it is important to know what to do after a fire. Of course, in the immediate moments following the first spark, safety must be the first concern. Once things are under control and everyone is safe, you should check that you have in your possession personal identification, insurance information, medications, assistive devices such as eyeglasses and credit cards, account information, and personal valuables. You should not enter to retrieve anything without the formal okay from fire crews.

You may find you need to replace some of these items (such as medicine you could not grab) as you look for temporary housing. The Red Cross or Salvation Army may offer assistance with both housing and personal necessities. Notify family, schools, employers, and insurance companies of all relocations. Do keep receipts for all fire-related expenses, regardless of your insurance status. The information can prove costs to your insurer and can also be important for future tax filings.

If you have insurance, you should give notice of the incident to the company and/or your agent. Ask about immediate concerns regarding the home, such as removing water and covering damaged doors, windows, or roof areas to prevent further damage. Clarify your own responsibilities so you do not get penalized for non-compliance. Some companies require the homeowner to produce a detailed inventory of damaged personal items. Do not get rid of damaged items until you have completed this inventory. If you are interested in using a company to help with inventory or repair, be sure to discuss the matter with your insurer first.

If you do not have insurance, or if your insurance proves inadequate, consider community aid groups. Potential source of help include: The American Red Cross; The Salvation Army; civic groups; religious organizations; social services agencies; nonprofit crisis counseling groups; and state or local municipal emergency services offices.

The Valuation Issue

One of the most complex parts of recovering from a fire is evaluating your lost property. This is important for insurance purposes, but also for claiming a loss on the year's federal income tax filings. Sentimental value is important, but insurers and the IRS focus on objective measures of loss. Objective valuations include cost at purchase, fair market value before the fire (actual cash value of an item given the state it is in the day prior to the fire, including depreciation due to use), and salvage value after the fire. Some insurance policies only reimburse for current value of your used items, while other (typically more expensive) policies cover the full cost of replacing the item.

Legal Help After a Fire

Another vital call after a fire is the one you place to a skilled Panama City home fire lawyer. Wes Pittman has spent over 30 years advocating for people in Panama City and can help you obtain the compensation you are owed from an insurance company or a party responsible for the blaze.

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