New Mexico Wildfire Lawyers

If you've been affected by a New Mexico wildfire, you may have legal options available to help you move forward. Contact our New Mexico wildfire attorneys at Will Ferguson & Associates to find out how we can help you. 

Most people believe they have adequate homeowners’ insurance and are properly insured, but when there is a tragedy, such as a fire, they find out otherwise. Sadly, a vast majority of insurance policies don't provide enough coverage to help the homeowners, the renters, or the business owners recover from losses when wildfire damages or destroys their homes and other property. Wildfires often result in landslides that cause even more devasting destruction. 

That's when Will Ferguson & Associates will step in to help you. New Mexico Wildfires are on the rise and can cause much more than property damage alone. There are other losses that you may be compensated for after your home or business was destroyed in an NM Wildfire, such as: 

  • Physical pain
  • Emotional distress
  • Financial hardships
  • and more

Destructive wildfires continue to cause extensive damage across the United States. Residents of New Mexico who have suffered from wildfires must know the legal options available to them should they experience any damage to their homes or businesses.

If you and your family have been negatively affected by a New Mexico wildfire, the Will Ferguson & Associates lawyers can help you. We will help guide you through the legal claims process and help. Contact our law firm today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and the legal options available for you.

The Impacts of Wildfires on the Residents of New Mexico

The flames of wildfires often cause extensive property damage in New Mexico. The consequences of these incidents are often far-reaching. Not only do residents suffer damage to their homes, businesses, and other properties, but they also suffer physical consequences. Wildfires can negatively affect air quality and make it difficult to breathe. 

Every year, more than 33,000 people are killed in wildfires around the world. Tens of thousands of other victims are left with injuries that negatively affect their health and well-being. Some of the most common injuries victims report include burns and injuries to their throats, lungs, eyes, and nose. Victims can experience decreased lung functions, wheezing and coughing, bronchitis, asthma, pulmonary inflammation, and other lung diseases. 

There are many cases where firefighters are harmed while out battling these fires and trying to save homes. Some of the most commonly reported injuries they experience are:

  • Blows to the head
  • Being crushed by objects, trees, and falling rocks
  • Muscle sprains
  • Severe burns
  • Broken bones

Dealing with the long-term consequences can be challenging for victims and their families. Unfortunately, our state has a long history of wildfires in the past, dating back several decades.

History of Wildfires in New Mexico

The state of New Mexico is no stranger to wildfires. Over the years, New Mexico residents have experienced the devastation of these often-preventable catastrophes. Since the early 1950s, hundreds of wildfires have been reported in New Mexico. These incidents have historically caused significant damage and claimed the lives of numerous people and animals. Some of the most notable wildfires in New Mexico include:

Cerro Grande Fire

The Cerro Grande Fire started on May 4, 2000, due to a controlled burn that went out of control. As the fire spread through Los Alamos, it caused damage to more than 420 dwellings and more than 100 buildings at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The Cerro Grande Fire caused more than $1 billion in damages and burned over 48,000 acres. Firefighters were finally able to take control of the blaze on July 20, 2000. This fire did not result in any fatalities. However, three people were injured.

Ponil Complex Fire

On June 3, 2002, the Ponil Complex Fire, also known as the Philmont Fire, started due to lightning strikes and drought conditions. This fire caused widespread damage to over 92,000 acres of land, wiping out the forest on a large scale. The fire was finally declared fully contained on June 17, 2002, and caused more than $14 million in damages. However, it completely disrupted the growth, changed the ecosystem in northern New Mexico, and wiped out four fish species in the area.

Wallow Fire

On May 29, 2011, the Wallow Fire began near the Bear Wallow Wilderness in the White Mountains near Alpine, Arizona. The Wallow was determined to have started because of a campfire and quickly spread due to strong winds. The fire continued to spread for over a month, crossing into New Mexico from Arizona.

The Wallow Fire destroyed a total of four commercial buildings. Another 36 outbuildings were destroyed in the blaze, and 32 residences were also destroyed. The fire burned over 538,000 acres, accounting for approximately 15,400 in New Mexico, and caused over $109 million in damages between the two states. On July 8, 2011, the fire was declared 100% contained. There were only three reports of injuries in this fire.

Las Conchas Fire

The Las Conchas Fire is considered the third-largest wildfire in state history, burning more than 156,293 acres of land while destroying over 63 residences and 49 outbuildings. The Las Conchas Fire began on June 26, 2011, due to a power line on a Jemez Electric Cooperative easement that blew over during a strong wind storm. 

It started in the Santa Fe National Forest and threatened the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the town of Los Alamos. Within the first 24-hours, the Las Conchas Fire had already burned more than 43,000 acres.

In only five days, the fire increased so much in size that it was considered the largest fire in state history. The fire spread north due to strong winds into the Pajarito Mountain Ski area. It also spread to the south, threatening the town of Cochiti, New Mexico. On August 3, 2011, the fire was 100% contained. However, the incident caused more than $15 million in damages and suppression fees.

No fatalities were reported in this fire. Fifteen people did sustain injuries that were non-fatal in nature.

Whitewater–Baldy Complex Fire

The Whitewater–Baldy Complex Fire began on May 16, 2012. The fire initially started as two separate fires, the Whitewater fire that began on May 16 and the smaller Baldy fire that started on May 9. Lightning strikes caused both fires. 

At the time, the Whitewater–Baldy Complex Fire was considered the largest of all New Mexico wildfires in history after surpassing the size of the Las Conchas Fire that took place only one year earlier.

On May 24, the two fires merged together and continued to burn through more than a dozen residences, prompting the evacuation of several small towns in the area. The fire also prompted the closure of the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and the Catwalk Recreation area, located above Glenwood, New Mexico. The fire was fully contained on July 31, 2012, after burning through nearly 298,000 acres and causing over $12 million in damages and suppression fees.

At least six people were injured in this fire, although none of them seriously. 

Little Bear Fire

The Little Bear Fire began on June 4, 2012. It started after a lightning strike. The fire quickly grew and burned out of control, primarily due to the dry vegetation and windy conditions. The Little Bear Fire is considered the most destructive fire in terms of human structures in New Mexico's history, destroying more than 254 buildings. Although the fire caused massive, widespread damage, no one was killed by its destruction. It only created minimal evacuation zones in the White Mountain Wilderness Area in south-central New Mexico. The fire burned 44,330 acres and resulted in more than $11.5 million in damages. On July 3012, the fire was declared 100% contained by the Federal Government.

The Hermits Peak Fire

The Hermits Peak Fire first started on April 6, 2022. The fire directly resulted from a prescribed or controlled burn on the Las Vegas/Pecos Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest. Weather conditions were supposed to be within the guidelines for a safe and prescribed fire, but there were sudden and unexpected strong gusts of wind that came on strong during the late afternoon hours. These wind gusts sparked several small spot fires that quickly spread from the project area. 

At approximately 4:30 pm on April 6, a wildfire called the Hermits Peak Fire was declared. The Hermits Peak Fire started about 12 miles northwest of Las Vegas, NM. The fire originated at the base of Hermits Peak and is burning in very steep and rugged terrain, making it very difficult for firefighters to access the areas safely.

Dealing with the Aftermath of New Mexico Wildfires

Many New Mexico residents have dealt with the devastation of these fires over the year. Many families have lost their loved ones, pets, homes, and other belongings due to wildfires, which continue to occur in New Mexico. Losing loved ones and suffering severe burn injuries can be incredibly challenging.

You must know the legal options should you suffer injuries, damages, or losses in a New Mexico Fire. Our New Mexico wildfire attorneys at Will Ferguson & Associates can help you get the compensation and benefits you need for your damages.

The truth is that many people believe their property is adequately insured. However, when tragedy strikes, they soon learn otherwise. Unfortunately, many insurance policies do not sufficiently cover damages to homeowners, business owners, and renters for losses resulting from wildfires. That is where Will Ferguson & Associates step in to help.

Wildfires often cause much more than just damage to properties. Many victims suffer physically, emotionally, and financially. For this reason, we are committed to helping clients handle wildfire legal claims so they can repair and replace their damages in a timely manner. 

Does My Insurance cover the Wildfire Damage?

Wildfires are notorious for causing widespread destruction. These incidents can cause significant property damage, severe injuries, and death in only hours. If you were negatively affected by a New Mexico wildfire, you might be able to file a damage claim through your property insurance.

In general, victims can pursue legal actions after suffering damages from a wildfire if it was caused by arson or another party's careless, reckless, or negligent action. However, it is essential to understand that every policy is different. Whether your damages are covered will be in the language of your specific homeowner's insurance policy.

Some policies only cover damage that is inflicted by the fire itself. However, many policies cover problems that stem from the fire, including water and smoke damage. These policies can also cover damage from strong winds, structural damage, roof damage, plumbing, and electrical damage, and melted personal property.

You must immediately reach out to a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to determine if your damages are covered. Our New Mexico wildfire fire attorneys have decades of experience helping victims who suffered damage in fires get justice.

What to Do After Suffering Wildfire Damages

After experiencing damage to your homes or businesses due to a wildfire, you must take various steps to ensure you can get the repairs you need promptly. 

This includes:

Filing home insurance claims: If your home suffered any damage from a wildfire, you must file a claim with your homeowner's insurance company as soon as possible. Waiting to file a claim after suffering damages to homes or businesses can delay payments to claimants, resulting in a much lengthier process to make the repairs needed and return to your everyday life.

Upon filing a wildfire damage claim, your insurance company will want to see proof of the damages. They will also send out their adjuster to survey the damage and determine the value of your belongings and the cost of repairing the damage.

Document your losses: After you file a claim for damages, you will need to create thorough documentation of your damages. Take photos and record videos of the damage to your home and all personal belongings. This evidence will prove that the fire occurred and can be used during the home insurance claims process. It can also be valuable if you have any receipts for the destroyed or damaged property.

Secure your property: After thoroughly documenting your damage, you must secure the property. Thieves and vandals are notorious for entering damaged and destroyed property to cause further damage. To avoid this from happening, you must secure the property. Suppose your property seems damaged to the point of it being uninhabitable, and you are required to relocate temporarily. In that case, securing the damaged areas with plywood or other solid coverings is a good idea, and checking back frequently to ensure no one has entered the property.

Meet with an adjuster: When an insurance company sends an adjuster to your home to assess your damages, you should be there to meet with them. You know more about your home than they do. You can walk them through your home, show them anything damaged or destroyed, and make sure they document everything. It is also beneficial to document all of the property damage you discuss together. Keeping notes will help you better document the process, especially if the damages in the claim differ from what you documented.

Verify your homeowners' insurance coverage: You must read your insurance policy to familiarize yourself with the limits, deductions, and what is covered.

Obtain several estimates for your repairs: It is very common for insurance adjusters to have home repair companies on standby waiting to repair or rebuild your home. However, it is wise for you to obtain a few estimates from different contractors. Although the prices to repair or replace your property should not differ significantly, you will want to ensure that you are getting quality estimates for the work that needs to be done.

Ask for an advance on the claim: If the damage to your home is significant, you may be forced to relocate temporarily. Unfortunately, many people in this position do not have the financial resources necessary to cover temporary shelter and other belongings. You may also have a longer commute time to work or school or have to rent a storage unit. Having financial resources available to cover these and other unexpected costs while your home is being replaced can help alleviate some of the stress you endure.

Knowing that you do not have to go through the claims process alone is essential. Our New Mexico fire attorneys can help guide you throughout the entire process and demand that you are paid complete and timely compensation to cover your damages. We can answer your legal questions and provide you with advice every step of the way to ensure you obtain the outcome you expect for your claim.

Our lawyers are committed to providing wildfire victims with a variety of services to ensure they are in the best position possible to get the compensation they need and deserve from the responsible parties. Our lawyers can help you file an initial claim for damages, or we can help you handle a claim that was denied. Contact our New Mexico wildfire attorneys to see how we can help you.

How Can a New Mexico Wildfire Attorney Help Me?

If you filed a claim for wildfire damages that was initially denied, your insurance company would launch an investigation to determine the cause of the fire. The inquiry will also assess the extent of property damage you suffered and the total value of your claim.

Insurance companies are notorious for blaming innocent homeowners for their losses. Some companies even go to great lengths to hire special investigators who will find reasons to justify that blame in order to deny your claim for damages. If your damage claim was denied, our New Mexico insurance dispute lawyers have the knowledge, experience, and resources necessary to perform a separate assessment of your claim. If the insurance company disputes your claim for damages, we will use our findings to negotiate a settlement on your behalf.

Our team at Will Ferguson & Associates works with experts who can determine the cause of the fire and accurately estimate the value of assets lost. Furthermore, our team will uncover any property damage that may have been overlooked by the insurer and demand that you are paid fully and in a timely manner. Our lawyers have extensive experience handling these complex legal issues for clients, and we are committed to helping you obtain the outcome you expect for your claim.

If you have suffered damages to your property due to New Mexico wildfires, contact our New Mexico legal team as soon as possible to get started on your case. Whether you are filing for the first time or your claim was denied, we will handle your case and remain by your side.

Why Was My Wildfire Insurance Claim Denied?

It is in the insurance company's best interest to avoid paying policyholders the money they need to repair wildfire damages. However, the insurance company must have a justifiable reason for denying legal claims.

The state of New Mexico follows the Unfair Claim Settlement Practices Act (UCSPA). This act protects policyholders from being wrongfully or deceitfully denied compensation for their damages.

There are various forms of unfair claims handling covered under this act, including:

  • Allegations that the fire was caused by arson.
  • Denying a total loss claim despite adequate supporting evidence.
  • Undervaluing the damaged property.
  • Failing to investigate the fire in a timely manner.
  • Clear violations of the terms of the property insurance policy.
  • Threats of legal implications to the policyholder as an attempt to decrease the payout.

There are instances where insurance companies will delay the process of calculating the value of the property or providing the payment of a claim by alleging fraud or arson. It is essential to understand that the burden of proof is on the insurance company. Without any direct or circumstantial evidence to support these allegations, insurance companies that deny claims on this basis are doing so in bad faith.

Should your fire insurance claim be denied, it is crucial that you seek legal counsel right away. Our New Mexico wildfire attorneys at Will Ferguson & Associates can review the details of your claim and the reasons cited for the denial. We will determine if the insurance company is acting in bad faith, and we will take the appropriate action to ensure you secure the financial compensation you need.

Let Our Personal Injury Lawyers Help You

At Will Ferguson & Associates, we understand that the aftermath of a wildfire can be extremely stressful to deal with. This is especially true when valid claims for property damage are wrongfully denied. After paying costly premiums for homeowners’ insurance, the very last thing we expect is for our claims to be unjustifiably rejected. For this reason, our wildfire claims attorneys are committed to helping our clients get the compensation and justice they deserve so they can repair their homes and go on with their life.

Our team has decades of experience dealing with insurance companies. We fully understand the tactics they may employ in order to avoid paying victims for their damages. Our lawyers are fully committed to helping homeowners recover the compensation that they need and deserve. Our personal injury lawyers handle claims on a contingency fee basis, so you do not have to worry about any legal fees up-front. Once we win your case, we will retain the agreed-upon attorney fees for our services.

If you've suffered a personal injury, wildfire damage to your property, or other consequences of a wildfire, you may have legal options available to help you move forward. Contact our New Mexico wildfire attorneys at Will Ferguson & Associates to explore the legal options available for you. Our law firm offers free legal consultations for clients to discuss fire cases and other wildfire legal claims across the entire state of New Mexico. Our New Mexico law firm can be reached by calling (505) 594-3712.

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      1720 Louisiana Blvd NE #100 Albuquerque, NM 87110
      Rio Rancho

      333 Rio Rancho Boulevard Northeast Rio Rancho, NM

      1720 Louisiana Blvd NE #100 Albuquerque, NM 87110
      Rio Rancho

      333 Rio Rancho Boulevard Northeast Rio Rancho, NM