I burned kitchen down accidentally with grease fire, insurance company wants me to pay for the damages?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Dec 15, 2011

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Insurance Question from Springfield, OR

Asked on 12/15/2011

I burned kitchen down accidentally with grease fire, insurance company wants me to pay for the damages? I was living in an apartment (not on the lease, yet) and accidentally caused a grease fire which destroyed part of the kitchen and ceiling. I had walked away for a few minutes to use the bathroom and came back and the wall was ablaze. I panicked because I was never in that situation before and just ran out of the house. There was not any food in the oil, just straight oil on medium. I did not have renters insurance, and my parents don't have renters/home owners insurance. Now, the insurance company is "discussing numbers" and want me to pay for all the damages. What should I do now?

Answer given on December 16, 2011

They are trying to recoup losses due to what is perceived to have been your negligence in causing the damage. Since you are not on the lease are you temporarily living there? Was it the lease holder’s responsibility to make sure the stove was clean or the wall that was adjacent to the stove was grease free?  Before signing anything saying you will repay the money, I would contact an attorney in your area to discuss your obligation in the matter and what the laws in your state dictate you are obligated to pay.  Most attorneys give free consultations.  Click here to find one in your area.

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