The Right Type of Fire Report Helps Your Civil Lawsuit
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Burn Injury Lawyer. The right type of fire report can help your civil lawsuit. A residential or commercial fire can be devastating both physically and emotionally. Not only can a fire destroy a home or office building, consuming important documents or priceless mementos and artifacts, a fire can result in serious emotional and/or mental trauma as well. If your home or apartment building was destroyed in a fire, your ability to pursue compensation in a civil lawsuit depends on what evidence exists to suggest that another person’s carelessness or negligence contributed to the fire or to the severity of your injuries or losses. In order to discover this important information, your attorney will need to consult with one or more fire reports.
Different Types of Fire Reports Available
Depending on your location and resources, there may only be one type of fire report available. However, even a single fire report can contain important clues and information. Your attorney may seek to discover:
- The National Fire Incident Reporting System Report (NFIRS report): California participates in this voluntary reporting system. Standards promulgated by the National Fire Association require every fire department to complete a NFIRS report for every fire responded to regardless of the location or type of fire involved. The report will contain information regarding the department(s) that responded to the fire, the time the call was made, the identification of the responding individuals and units, the work performed by the responding units, and the resolution of the call. Contacting the local fire department involved (for example, the Sacramento Fire Department) is often the easiest way of obtaining a copy of the NFIRS report.
- Municipal fire investigation reports: If a fire department has an investigative unit (some larger cities do), this unit may prepare their own investigative report to be submitted to the California Office of the State Fire Marshal and, from there, on to the U.S. Fire Administration. These reports may not be available in every case; however, investigative units may prepare these reports if the fire resulted in injury or death, a large property loss, and/or is suspected of having been started with criminal intent. In addition to the information contained in a NFIRS report, these reports may describe whether it is believed any human activity contributed to the ignition of the fire. The State Fire Marshal’s office will have a copy of this report if one is prepared and submitted.
- Private fire reports: You or the insurance company involved in the loss may hire a private fire investigator to conduct an investigation into the fire, especially where there is no municipal fire report and/or any available reports contain few details. Private fire reports are typically ordered by insurance companies when there is a significant loss and it is uncertain or suspicious of how the fire began.
An experienced personal injury attorney will know how to go about requesting all fire reports that may have been created in connection with your fire loss or fire injury. Through the discovery process, your attorney can learn whether the defendant and/or an insurance company ordered a private fire report, the name of the individual that performed that report, the company for whom this individual worked, and the results of the investigation. Your attorney should also be able to obtain a copy of any private fire report, even if you did not order one to be completed.
If you or a loved one has been injured or suffered a loss in a fire, take immediate action to protect your rights and your ability to seek compensation through a civil lawsuit. I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Burn Injury Lawyer since 1982. Call me anytime at 916-921-6400 in Sacramento or 800-404-5400 Elsewhere.
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