House Fires And Insurance And Arson

A house fire in Grand Prairie, Arlington, Garland, Mesquite, Richardson, Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Irving, or anywhere else in the North Texas area is a real nightmare for those involved. It is even worse when the insurance company accuses you of arson and denies the claim.
There are many things an experienced Insurance Law Attorney can do to help someone who is accused by the insurance company of having committed arson own their own house in order to recover the insurance proceeds.
One first needs to understand that arson is a criminal offense. The crime of arson is defined in the Texas Penal Code, Section 28.02. According to this section of the Penal Code:
(a) A person commits an offense if the person starts a fire, regardless of whether the fire continues after ignition, or causes an explosion with intent to destroy or damage:
(1) any vegetation, fence, or structure on open-space land; or
(2) any building, habitation, or vehicle:

(B) knowing that it is insured against damage or destruction;

(d) An offense under Subsection (a) is a felony of the second degree, ….
Next, one needs to understand that the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure outlines part of the procedure for handling a suspected arson case.
Article 50.01 states: When an affidavit is made by a credible person before any justice of the peace that there is ground to believe that any building has been unlawfully set or attempted to be set on fire, such justice shall cause the truth of such complaint to be investigated.
Article 50.02 states: The proceedings in such cases shall be governed by the laws relating to inquests upon dead bodies. The officer conducting such investigations shall have the same powers as are conferred upon justices of the peace ….
Article 50.03 states: The jury after inspecting the place in question and after hearing the testimony, shall deliver to the justice holding such inquest its written signed verdict in which it shall find and certify how and in what manner such fire happened or was attempted, and all the circumstances attending the same, and who are guilty thereof, and in what manner. If such a jury is unable to so ascertain, it shall find and certify accordingly.
Article 50.04 states: If the jury finds that any building has been unlawfully set on fire or has been attempted to do be, the justice holding such inquest shall bind over the witnesses to appear and testify before the next grand jury of the county in which such offense was committed.
Article 50.05 states: If the person charged with the offense, if any, be not in custody, the justice of the peace shall issue a warrant for his arrest, and when arrested, such person shall be dealt with as in other like cases.
Article 50.06 states: In all such investigations, the testimony of all witnesses examined before the jury shall be reduced to writing by or under the direction of the justice and signed by each witness. Such testimony together with the verdict … shall be certified to ….
Going further here, the Texas Government Code, Section 417 defines the duties of the State Fire Marshall as it relates to arson cases.
Section 417.004(b), puts the State Fire Marshall in charge of all arson and suspected arson cases in the state and makes him responsible for investigations.
Section 417.0052, says the State Fire Marshall is responsible for investigating even incidences of suspected arson.
Section 417.006, gives him authority to appoint local peace officers to investigate arson cases.
Section 417.007, states that the State Fire Marshall “shall immediately investigate a fire” … if requested by:
(1) the mayor, fire chief, fire marshall, or police chief of a municipality in which a fire occurs;
(2) a county or district judge, sheriff, county fire marshal, chief or fire marshal of a fire department in an unincorporated area, or county attorney of a county in which a fire occurs;
(3) a fire insurance company interested in a loss or the company’s general, state, or special agent;

(5) a justice of the peace or constable of a precinct in which a fire occurs; or (6) officials of a state or federal law enforcement agency or local or special governmental district involved or interested in a fire loss …
This same section allows the fire marshall to enter the building or premises at any time, to “conduct the investigation at the place of the fire and before an insured loss may be paid. The fire marshall shall ascertain, if possible, whether the fire was caused intentionally, carelessly, or accidentally. The state fire marshall shall make a written report of the investigation to the commissioner.” This section also allows further investigations as it deems necessary. It allows for the marshall to give its investigative results to a prosecuting attorney if there is reason to believe there is an arson.
What is relevant about all the above information is that seldom does the insurance company, who denies a claim based on a suspected arson, ever follow through with these steps which would obviously be helpful to their position. Which of course calls into doubt the validity and sustainability of their position.