Legal Question in Civil Litigation in California

We bought a house, completely gutted it replaced everything. 1 month later had a pipe break in the kitchen. Insurance company sent out restoration company who told them that we now had mold (within 2 days) and they had to tear out the whole kitchen. It is now almost 3 months from when that happened and the home owners insurance is offering us less than 1/2 of what we have been quoted from contractors to put our kitchen back together. The problem has been that the insurance adjuster has been out 3 times and is WAY underquoting what things realistically cost. Our house is 2700 sq ft. He estimated that to paint the entire back side of the house (because they had to make a hole in the house to repair the pipe) that it would cost $400. That's supposed to cover materials AND contractor! We live in southern ca. In the mean time, my family of 7 (5 small children) have been without a kitchen for 3 of the 4 months that we've lived here. What are my rights and if I hire an attorney, what kind of attorney do I need?

Asked on 10/08/12, 3:02 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

You need to start by providing the adjuster your contractors' quotes. If it is an independent adjuster, you need to also send them to your insurance company. Make sure the quotes are detailled, in writing, and from reputable licenced contractors. If the insurance company then still refuses to cover the true value of the claim, you will need an attorney who handles insurance bad faith cases. I have to comment, however, that I find it VERY odd that you would have a major mold remediation problem within two days of a pipe break. So the liability issues may go well beyond the insurance company and extend to the company that supposedly gutted and replaced "everything." If you have a major mold problem it was almost certainly there when you had the rennovation work done. How did your contractor miss that? And was there a previous pipe problem that the seller did not disclose? Quite possibly. So I would recommend that you find an experienced real estate and construction attorney who has some understanding of insurance bad faith cases (which most construction attorneys do) rather than an insurance attorney who thinks they know real estate and constructon.

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Answered on 10/08/12, 5:38 pm

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