When a home, condo, or business sustains considerable damage, it can leave those affected feeling financially and emotionally insecure. Furthermore, keeping track of property repairs while also fighting to get the compensation you deserve can be a stressful and time-consuming process.
Whether you own a business or a home, you pay a significant amount of money to protect your property. Yet, many insurance companies deny claims for property damage or try to pay policyholders less than they deserve.
Working with a knowledgeable property damage attorney could help ease the stress and challenges of obtaining compensation, especially if your insurance company or the responsible party is refusing to pay for the damage.
What Do I Do After My Property Has Been Damaged?
When your property is damaged due to unforeseeable circumstances such as inclement weather or theft, you may be entitled to compensation from your insurer as per the terms of your homeowners’ policy, condo insurance, or business insurance.
As a homeowner or business owner, it’s worth noting that there are a few things that you’ll need to take care of immediately. When signing your insurance policy, chances are you never thought about what it takes to file an insurance claim.
Fortunately, as the go-to property damage law firm in Fort Lauderdale, we are here to guide you through the steps you need to take to safeguard your interests and file a successful insurance claim.
Prevent Further Damage
After experiencing property damage, you should act right away to stop any further harm. Whatever the cause of damage is, the first thing you need to do is to ensure your safety and that of your loved ones.
If the cause of the disaster isn’t that life-threatening, do your best to remove whatever belongings and materials you can before calling emergency services for help. Once on-site, they’ll be able to assess the damage caused by water, weather, or fire and mitigate further damage.
Document the Damage
You can reduce the chances of your claim being denied or delayed by gathering comprehensive evidence of the damage to your property. Use your phone’s camera to capture as much detail as possible. Take photos and videos of the damaged rooms and items, as well as damage on the outside of the house and the garden.
If the roof has been affected, capture the damage from the outside and the inside, ideally from multiple angles, as well as the level of water intrusion.
File an Insurance Claim
The next thing you file your insurance claim as soon as possible. As stated in your insurance policy, there are very strict deadlines that you have to adhere to.
To speed up the process, be ready with the necessary supporting evidence. Doing so will ensure that the insurance company has everything they require before the deadline is reached.
You want to be as specific as possible in all the reports you submit. If you don’t accurately list the things that have been damaged and lost, you will not receive compensation for your loss. Therefore, make sure you keep an accurate record of all repair costs and submit them with your claim.
Reach Out to a Property Damage Lawyer
Insurance companies often try to get away with paying less than you deserve, and will be looking for excuses to deny your claim. Contacting a lawyer as soon as possible is important.
The Fort Lauderdale property damage lawyers at Klotzman Property Damage Law can walk you through your legal options, and help you fight any unfair delays, dismissals, lowball offers, and claim denials.
What Are the Most Common Types of Property Damage?
Being so close to the ocean is both a curse and a blessing for Florida. On the plus side, our state has some of the most beautiful beaches in all of America and thousands of miles of coastline. On the negative side, as all locals are aware, we are especially vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes.
However, as a Florida resident, you know that there’s so much more to be concerned about other than just natural disasters, as there are many other ways homeowners in the state can sustain property damage.
Here is a look at some of the most common types of property damage as evidenced by claims.
Rain, flooding, faulty plumbing, and in extremely rare circumstances ice melting are all potential causes of water damage in Florida. Snow is the main cause of freezing damage, which is something that most residents rarely have to worry about. Nevertheless, the majority of home insurance policies offer sufficient protection against these types of damage.
In Florida, flooding is the most common cause of water damage and is typically caused by;
- Failures in plumbing
- A tidal surge caused by a tropical storm or hurricane
- Heavy, swift rainfall that leads to water overflowing and flooding into streets, homes, car parks, etc.
- Inefficient or clogged drainage systems that result in flooding
Storm damage claims skyrocket during Florida’s hurricane season and become the most prevalent type of claim filed in the state. When hurricane season sets in, even the most sturdy buildings in Florida sustain some sort of exterior damage.
And while that is the case, it is worth noting that Florida’s homeowner’s insurance does not cover the flooding caused by hurricanes, only wind-related damage. It’s due to this that Florida residents are advised to purchase an additional policy that covers flood damage to ensure all bases are covered.
Fire and Lightning Damage
The most expensive and possibly most stressful type of property damage claim is fire. Whether it starts in the kitchen or is caused by lightning, fire spreads quickly and consumes almost everything it comes into contact with. Additionally, fires disperse smoke and chemicals throughout the building, contaminating things and presenting health risks.
They also lead to extra, unwanted expenses such as completely rebuilding the property, temporary relocation, and moving out. Fortunately, the purpose of homeowner’s insurance when it was first created was to offer protection from fires. As a result, it’s not too difficult to find insurance to cover claims for fire damage.
Incidents involving theft and burglary can be frightening and expensive. As a homeowner, you deserve to be compensated for any damage, be it a smashed window, a stolen item, or damaged possession. Every year, 1 in 400 homes with insurance file a claim for property theft.
Although these damages are covered by home insurance policies, most insurance providers still refuse to make the necessary payments. They will either undervalue your possessions or accuse you of being careless.
Fortunately, property damage attorneys are skilled and ready to confront big insurance companies to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Who Is Responsible for Property Damage?
Unless you deliberately damaged your property or don’t have homeowner’s insurance, your insurance company or another party may be liable for at least a fraction of the cost.
Here are some potentially responsible parties.
Anyone who enters your property illegally is liable for any damage they cause.
Contractors and Subcontractors
Professionals have to provide exemplary workmanship and avoid making errors or providing subpar work when working on your property. A contractor, subcontractor, or any other individual working on your property who violates this standard is liable for any immediate or long-term damage resulting from the violation.
It is the responsibility of governmental bodies, such as cities and counties, to maintain public buildings and property to prevent injury and avoid damage. For instance, the city is liable for damage from falling branches if it neglects to maintain a green belt. The majority of governmental organizations offer forms for filing property damage claims.
Your Insurance Provider
Your insurance provider’s obligation will be governed by the terms stipulated in your homeowner’s insurance policy. Your case will only be considered once you’ve filed a claim with your insurance provider.
To identify who or what is accountable for the damage, you will need the assistance of a lawyer to evaluate the circumstances surrounding the incident. Make a list of the damages, losses, and associated expenses after determining who is at fault.
What If the Property Damage Was Done Maliciously?
The deliberate and malicious destruction of another person’s property, according to Florida law, is referred to as criminal mischief (aka vandalism). Criminal mischief can, depending on the amount of damage caused, result in felony or misdemeanor penalties, including prison or jail time. If someone’s willfully destroyed or vandalized your property, report the matter to the police as soon as possible for assistance.
Your best chance of being able to file a claim for damages is if you have a police report. If the person is willingly damaging your property or is looking to harm you, reporting the matter can also help stop further destruction or injury.
In Florida, the destruction of property is quite a serious offense. In most cases, the resulting damage exceeds the threshold for a felony offense. The victim might need legal assistance to pursue financial restitution.
Types of property damage that fall under criminal mischief include:
- Slashing car tires
- Intentionally denting or keying a car
- Breaking a window
- Stomping on a purse or backpack that doesn’t belong to you
- Breaking another person’s cell phone
- Tearing or cutting someone’s clothing, etc.
What Is Typically Covered Under a Homeowner’s Policy?
If your house is damaged or destroyed by one of the perils covered by your homeowner’s insurance, your financial interests are safeguarded. Perils include things like fires and wind that cause or have the potential to cause harm, loss, or destruction.
The coverage included in your policy should always be reviewed to ensure you have the coverage you need. Furthermore, once a loss has occurred, you cannot purchase additional coverage.
Dwelling insurance, which covers the foundation, walls, and roof of the house in which you reside, is one of the fundamental coverages of a homeowners insurance policy. Other buildings that are connected to the house, like a deck or a garage, may also benefit from dwelling coverage to help protect them from some risks.
Other Structures on Your Property
The majority of homeowner’s insurance policies also cover other structures, such as a detached garage, a tool shed, or a fence, that are located on your property but are not attached to your home.
Homeowners’ insurance assists with covering damage to your personal property as well. It might also offer protection for the items you keep inside of it for personal use. Imagine that your home is broken into and your electronics are taken, or that a fire damages your furniture.
Your belongings may need to be repaired or replaced if they have been damaged or destroyed by one of the risks covered by personal property protection.
Liability for Injuries or Damage
Typical homeowners’ insurance policies include liability coverage if someone who does not live with you is injured while on your property. Let’s say a guest trips on your damaged porch step. If you are found to be at fault, bodily injury liability coverage might help cover the cost of your subsequent legal fees or the visitor’s related medical costs.
By including a personal umbrella policy, you might be able to raise the limits of your liability insurance coverage. Your agent can explain the options that are available to you.
How Can a Fort Lauderdale Property Damage Lawyer Help?
At Klotzman Property Damage Law, we offer high-quality legal services and are devoted to helping our clients fight for the compensation they need and deserve. We will guide you through the complicated claims process and stand up for you if the insurance company is denying your claim or they have offered you a low settlement offer.
Some of the benefits you’ll get to enjoy by working with our Fort Lauderdale property damage lawyers include:
As a normal citizen, you’re probably unaware of the intricacies of filing a property damage claim. Having an experienced property damage attorney on your side ensures that your case is handled skillfully and using the best legal approach possible for your specific set of circumstances. Anytime you have concerns, you can ask your lawyer questions and get explanations.
It’s tough for the average person to estimate the costs of home repairs or replacing damaged property. Your lawyer can work with a contractor and prepare a solid scope of loss. This is a document that sets an estimate for replacing or rebuilding property that has been damaged. The document can go a long way in helping you get a favorable settlement offer from the insurance company.
Although a property damage case may go to trial, the majority of disputes are resolved outside of the courtroom.
Insurance companies will sometimes offer low settlement amounts to policyholders early on. You need to hire a trustworthy attorney to ensure that you are not being taken advantage of. Your property damage attorney will negotiate for a favorable settlement on your behalf and will recommend whether to accept a settlement offer or proceed to trial.
An experienced lawyer can help you in case you need to sue a third party for property damage. Your attorney will be responsible for investigating the circumstances of your case, gathering evidence, and fighting for you in the courtroom.
Peace of Mind
Having a lawyer to handle your case will give you peace of mind. Our team will investigate your claim, gather the necessary information, and handle communications with your insurance provider so you can focus on getting your life back to normal after significant property damage.
Let Klotzman Property Damage Law Assist You!
Property damage can be caused by a variety of things, including fires, floods, and hurricanes. If you had property damage insurance when the incident happened, your insurer should cover the costs. The sad reality, however, is that many insurance companies will probably try to deny your claim or pay less than what you deserve.
If you’re considering filing a claim for damages to your property or are having trouble getting paid on your claim, contact Klotzman Property Damage Law and let one of our knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale property damage lawyers help you understand your legal options.
Call 954-915-7405 to set up a free, no-obligation consultation with our professional legal team.