Homeowner’s Policy Covers Fire Related Death

The Janssen Law Firm recently successfully resolved a wrongful death matter for the $300,000.00 homeowner’s insurance policy limits of a defendant property owner whose burn barrel fire got out of control in a Eureka, California residential neighborhood.  The defendant property owner allowed an un-permitted “burn barrel” fire to get out of control on an extremely gusty, fall day (winds in excess of 30 miles an hour) which caught the back deck, picnic table and a fence on the property line on fire.  John “Happy Jack” Van Lieu rushed into the smoke with tubs of water to knock down the fire, and was exposed to toxic smoke.

Within two days “Happy Jack” was coughing up blood, and was hospitalized, eventually dependant on a ventilator, and expired at St. Joseph’s Hospital.  The cause of death according to the pathologist was “massive alveolar lung damage consistent with toxic smoke inhalation exposure.”

Michael J. Crowley of the Janssen Law Firm handled the matter.  Identification of the cause of death via coroner and pathology reports was paramount, along with early identification of the homeowner’s insurance coverage available to the defendant property owner.

Mr. Van Lieu’s widow and his two grown adult daughters were the plaintiffs in the wrongful death action that ensued.  Upon completion of the depositions of Mr. Van Lieu’s widow and the pathologist on the cause of death, the matter settled for the homeowner insurance policy limits of the defendant property owner.

Most Humboldt County residents are not aware of the extent of coverage of homeowner’s policies, and prompt consultation with competent counsel to identify the injuries and the relevant insurance coverages is critical.  The attorneys in the Janssen Law Firm are experienced in litigating and trying cases involving homeowners policies, wrongful death matters, and cases presenting complex issues of medical causation.  Our experienced trial attorneys stand ready to assist you, when need arises.