Next steps for Charlotteans impacted by 5-alarm fire in South Park area

WBTV is On Your Side speaking with legal and insurance experts.
A day after a massive fire in south Charlotte, some drivers are left with charred vehicles.
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 7:07 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Soon after flames engulfed a construction site in the South Park area, the destruction in its wake became evident.

“The most important thing I think they can do is to memorialize their loss by taking a lot of pictures, so that it is very clear exactly what their loss is about,” Jim Leatzow, an insurance expert, told WBTV.

Leatzow says it will be a long process to determine the cause of the fire and who is liable, but you don’t have to wait

“If they have coverage with their own auto insurer, go ahead and submit that claim,” he said. “They will then enact any action against whoever ultimately is responsible for the fire. But in the meantime, their loss can be protected and paid.”

There will also be options for legal action.

“There, of course likely will be numerous claims involving the actual construction that was going on, the subcontractors, the contractors, who was responsible for what happened,” Paul Dickinson, a partner at the Law Offices of Scott Farrin, said. “This should not have happened, obviously.”

Dickinson says in addition to workers compensation and personal injury claims, nearby business owners could seek compensation for business disruption, repairs, and cleanup.

“It would be important for them to make sure that everything in their business is safe before they ask anybody to come back, and that they of course keep any receipts that they’re incurring for this,” he said.

He says keeping track of cleaning expenses and any potential health issues you may be experiencing now, will make the process simpler if you decide to contact a lawyer.

Experts also say this can serve as a reminder to take inventory of your home or business and understand your insurance coverage plans, so you are prepared in the event a tragedy like this strikes.