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Thomas Fire and Montecito Mudslide Damage

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Montecito Mudslide Disaster

Mudslide Destruction and Flood Insurance Coverage

The Montecito Mudslides

On Monday, January 9th, 2018, a destructive debris flow in Montecito has caused the deaths of at least 20 people and millions of dollars in damages. Some 30 people were treated at Santa Barbara Cottage hospital for injuries sustained during the disaster. Although officials are still assessing the mudslide, it is believed that at least 450 residences, homes, and commercial buildings have been damaged. Santa Barbara County has this MAP to help residents in the area.

Federal Disaster Assistance

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has expanded its disaster assistance in response to the tremendous amount of damage in the southern areas of Santa Barbara County. According to the Governors office, FEMA made changes, adding funds, to the Major Disaster Declaration because of the Thomas Fire, which ripped through the counties of Santa Barbara and Ventura.

FEMA has approved assistance for some homeowners who have had major infrastructure damage and would likely need repair. Santa Barbara residents can apply for financial assistance with FEMA, or Click Here.

montecito mudslide, thomas fire, property damage attorney

Insurance Coverage

Many homeowners could be excluded from filing an insurance claim due to the way some insurance policies are written. In many instances, floods, mudslides and/or mudflows are specifically excluded. If you have been denied for a Montecito mudslide claim or a Montecito flood claim, there may be a way to appeal.

It could be argued that the December 2016 Thomas Fire was the predominate force in a property damage loss regarding the Montecito Mudslides; homeowners could assert that “burn scars” from the Thomas Fire created areas in which water collected, ran across the surface, and resulted in a mudslide. The areas in which the fire took place were dry from ash and soot, which deprived the ground of regular soil properties, ultimately leading to bare ground without vegetation.

California Proximate Cause Doctrine

In California, the Efficient Proximate Cause Doctrine can sometimes override an initial insurance claim denial if multiple causes of loss occurred in a particular order. Specifically, in Sabella v. Wiser (1963) 59 Cal. 2d 21, 31-23, the California Supreme Court established the general rule stating:

“In determining whether a loss is within an exception in a policy, where is a concurrence of different causes, the efficient cause–the one that sets others in motion–is the cause to which the loss should be attributed, though the other causes may follow it, and operate more immediately in producing the disaster.

More recently, a California Court of Appeal issued its decision in Vardanyan v. Amco Insurance Co. (2015) 243 Cal. App 4th 779., reaffirming that if there are multiple causes of damage to a property, the loss is covered if the predominant cause is covered in the policy; however, if the predominant cause is not covered, the loss is not covered (Garvey v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cal.Rptr. 292, 770 P.2d 704.).

If the predominate cause can be attributed to the Thomas Fire, insurance companies may need to approve insurance claims or insurance appeals to denials because of the Efficient Proximate Cause Doctrine. Because insurance companies almost always exclude flood and mudslides from their property policies, using the Thomas Fire as the predominate cause could be an uphill battle in trying to open a claim or filing an appeal on a mudslide/flood denial.

Speak with a Property Damage Attorney

If you have been denied, or want to open a claim with your insurance company, speak with our property damage attorneys today. The Damage Attorneys may be able to assist you in your time of need with Flood, Mudslide, and Fire damages associated with Thomas fire and Montecito Mudslides.

For a Free Consultation, give us a call at (800) 683-4959

This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.

Call us today at (877) 778-8888 for a free consultation or Contact Us online.

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What Our Clients Say

Honestly can't say enough positive things about the Law Brothers! I got into a severe car accident at the end of 2016 and they've been with me every step of the way ever since. Almost 4 years! I want to thank everyone there especially Caitlyn, Shawn, and Yasmeen. They have been responsive, helpful, and reassuring and I don't know what I would've done if I didn't have the legal support that I was able to get along the years. They are super professional and really helped me get through this hardship in my life. I would definitely recommend!!!

Ivonne K.

Last year I contacted your law firm when I got into a car accident. the gentleman that handled my case, his name was Cesar. Cesar was very helpful and compassionate about my situation. He helped me get my car fixed very quickly and was super patient with me. He answered all of my questions and ensured me that everything will be taken care of. Once my case was settled I ended up getting more than I was expecting, which was amazing. I highly recommended Cesar and this law firm to anyone that needs help.

William Charlton

I was a client to the Law Brothers firm for about a year, the staff is really nice and professional. I would get updates on the case status and when I did call I would usually get a call back within 24 hours. I really appreciate the work that was done for me. I got the most out of my settlement and when I called to have a break down of the costs, Genesis was very patient and gave me a break down on all of it. I will definitely recommend this law firm to friends and family, as well as call them in the future if needed (hopefully not soon).

Erendira Landa

I had gotten into an accident and had no idea what to do. Friends and family recommended I get a lawyer since I was not at fault. I found this firm and I was beyond impressed. They handled everything for me from car insurance questions to finding doctors for me to visit. After my accident all I had to do was make appointments with various doctors to help with my pain. I give five stars because this firm went above and beyond and continued to follow up with me. I highly recommend if you are in need of a lawyer to use them.

Jacqueline D.

The team at the Law Brothers we’re amazing! I am not the kind of person to seek legal counsel, but I was hit by a car while riding a motorcycle and the driver’s insurance was avoiding my attempts to get reimbursed. They were able to not only get a settlement that replaced my motorcycle, but they found me physical therapy which was close to my work. Now I am back to where I was physically before the accident and I am able to ride a motorcycle again. They were always responsive to my texts, calls, and emails. They even would systematically check to see how I was healing and if the support they linked me to was satisfactory.

Charles Mortensen

This law firm is a team of miracle workers! The Law Brothers Law Firm saved me from suffering at another law firm from Century City. My case manager Jonathan was able to gather all the details from my accident ( literally within a week! ) and keeping me updated consistenty to keep me at ease. They work diligently and keep at it until your case is completed. I went through a car accident that almost took my life away but thanks to the higher power and the Law Brothers, you won't even hesitate to choose them because I felt trust and integrity throughout my case and I feel happier in my life, which in my opinion, matters the most at the end of the day.

Jason Avelar

What Our Clients Say

Honestly can't say enough positive things about the Law Brothers! I got into a severe car accident at the end of 2016 and they've been with me every step of the way ever since. Almost 4 years! I want to thank everyone there especially Caitlyn, Shawn, and Yasmeen. They have been responsive, helpful, and reassuring and I don't know what I would've done if I didn't have the legal support that I was able to get along the years. They are super professional and really helped me get through this hardship in my life. I would definitely recommend!!!

Ivonne K.

Last year I contacted your law firm when I got into a car accident. the gentleman that handled my case, his name was Cesar. Cesar was very helpful and compassionate about my situation. He helped me get my car fixed very quickly and was super patient with me. He answered all of my questions and ensured me that everything will be taken care of. Once my case was settled I ended up getting more than I was expecting, which was amazing. I highly recommended Cesar and this law firm to anyone that needs help.

William Charlton

I was a client to the Law Brothers firm for about a year, the staff is really nice and professional. I would get updates on the case status and when I did call I would usually get a call back within 24 hours. I really appreciate the work that was done for me. I got the most out of my settlement and when I called to have a break down of the costs, Genesis was very patient and gave me a break down on all of it. I will definitely recommend this law firm to friends and family, as well as call them in the future if needed (hopefully not soon).

Erendira Landa

I had gotten into an accident and had no idea what to do. Friends and family recommended I get a lawyer since I was not at fault. I found this firm and I was beyond impressed. They handled everything for me from car insurance questions to finding doctors for me to visit. After my accident all I had to do was make appointments with various doctors to help with my pain. I give five stars because this firm went above and beyond and continued to follow up with me. I highly recommend if you are in need of a lawyer to use them.

Jacqueline D.

The team at the Law Brothers we’re amazing! I am not the kind of person to seek legal counsel, but I was hit by a car while riding a motorcycle and the driver’s insurance was avoiding my attempts to get reimbursed. They were able to not only get a settlement that replaced my motorcycle, but they found me physical therapy which was close to my work. Now I am back to where I was physically before the accident and I am able to ride a motorcycle again. They were always responsive to my texts, calls, and emails. They even would systematically check to see how I was healing and if the support they linked me to was satisfactory.

Charles Mortensen

This law firm is a team of miracle workers! The Law Brothers Law Firm saved me from suffering at another law firm from Century City. My case manager Jonathan was able to gather all the details from my accident ( literally within a week! ) and keeping me updated consistenty to keep me at ease. They work diligently and keep at it until your case is completed. I went through a car accident that almost took my life away but thanks to the higher power and the Law Brothers, you won't even hesitate to choose them because I felt trust and integrity throughout my case and I feel happier in my life, which in my opinion, matters the most at the end of the day.

Jason Avelar

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