Whether you own a business or a home, you pay a significant amount of money to protect your house and its contents. Through your homeowner’s insurance (or business policy) you pay for the replacement or repair of anything damaged through events such as storms, theft, fires, and more. You essentially anticipate that something might happen, and you deserve to receive the damages in full from your insurer. A Hollywood property damage lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve.
You don’t expect the insurance company to give you a hard time when paying for the damages. Yet, many insurance companies end up denying policyholders full compensation for the property damage. You may find the insurance company claiming that the evidence you provided is not sufficient or valid to warrant full compensation. In such a case, your only recourse would be to file a lawsuit.
Klotzman Property Damage law takes pride in representing property owners in Hollywood, FL, and throughout Florida, following damages to their home or business. We know that as a policyholder, you have diligently paid for insurance, and it’s our job to help make sure that the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of the situation by offering a low settlement or denying your claim altogether. We are the extra muscle you need to represent your best interests and ensure that you have the funds to restore and repair the damage.
Give us a call at 954-915-7405 to talk about your potential property damage case.
What do I do after my property has been damaged?
If your home has been damaged, whether it’s by fire, storm, flood, or any other unexpected event, you might be confused about what to do. The following are some of the critical steps you should make to ensure you get maximum compensation for the property damage:
Immediately step in to prevent further damage
Once you realize that your property has sustained serious damage, the first thing you want to do is to immediately chip in and prevent further damage. For example, if your home has become flooded as a result of a plumbing issue, you should move to turn off the mains water to prevent further leakage.
If your roof has been damaged in a storm, cover up the area around with a tarp to avoid further damage, especially to the inside of your property. Doing this will ensure that the insurance company does not have grounds to argue that you allowed further deterioration by staying still and doing nothing.
Capture the damage
You can also 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 document as much detail as possible. Don’t forget to 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.
Promptly file an insurance claim
It’s completely understandable that when your property becomes damaged, you’ll have a myriad of things to do and worry about. Still, this should not distract you from notifying your insurance company. Since receiving compensation will undoubtedly take some time, filing your claim as soon as possible means that you’ll receive your settlement faster.
Journal the series of events
Journalling the series of events following the claim is also essential. This should ideally cover all the communications that you’ve had with your insurance provider. As your claim progresses, you should also journal the communication you have with the insurance adjusters, claim handlers, and other parties. Keep in mind that the insurance company is counting on you to forget important details of the case so that they can reduce the amount of money they pay out. This is one of the reasons you need to contact a lawyer.
Reach out to a property damage lawyer
Contacting a lawyer as soon as possible is important when it comes to these kinds of cases. Your insurance company might have already made lowball offers to you, or it seems like they will be delaying or denying your claim. Obtaining legal help and guidance can be crucial. The 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 common types of property damage?
There are five main common types of property damage in Hollywood, Florida. These include storm damage, theft and burglary, fire damage, and roof damage. The following are more details about each of them. This is not a comprehensive list, and many other types of damage are potentially covered.
Storm damage is one common and especially devastating cause of property damage in Florida. Powerful storms can potentially knock down trees, cause power outages, break windows, blow off roofs, and even cause structural damage to the entire building. While storm damage claims are generally a bit more manageable, it’s usually important to have the full details of the extent of the damage to get the amount of coverage you deserve.
Water damage often leads to serious and long-lasting damage to the affected building. Whether the water damage is from a broken pipe, faulty plumbing, floods, or other causes, it can be very expensive to remediate. Plus, the extent of water damage might not be immediately obvious. It’s therefore essential to get a proper appraisal ideally with the help of a property damage lawyer. This will ensure that you don’t miss any damage.
Fire and lightning damage
The extent of damage that a fire causes is especially challenging for property damage cases. If the fire is not controlled and extinguished quickly, your house in its entirety could burn down, including all of the assets inside and around it. This makes the situation a lot more devastating. To successfully file a fire damage claim, you may have to photograph the building and the damaged items. Keeping as much of this evidence as possible is also important.
Theft and Burglary
Homes are sometimes a target of burglary and theft for several reasons. Of course, the robbers know they can make away with valuable assets and electronics should they be able to break in and out. Unfortunately, insurance companies are notorious for denying burglary and theft claims. Plus, it can be quite difficult to prove that there was a break-in, certain valuables were stolen, and the value of the items.
Who is responsible for property damage?
In Florida, homeowners are protected under state laws. According to the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights in Florida, it’s recommended that you contact your insurance company when your home sustains any form of damage, and you should gather evidence for your claim before the insurance adjuster evaluates your claims. Photos and videos could be critical evidence to support your claim.
It’s quite common for insurance companies to send teams of adjusters to assess many homes at a time following major storms and hurricanes. It’s crucial to have a property damage lawyer by your side to ensure that you’re included in the insurance company’s immediate efforts to appraise the damages in your area. Otherwise, you could find yourself waiting for months after a significant storm event before the insurance company evaluates your property.
You also want to read through your homeowner’s insurance policy document so that you’re well aware of what may be included in your claim and what’s not. The Florida statutes include the Homeowner Claim Bill of Rights, which clearly states that the insurance company:
- Has to acknowledge the receipt of the claim you reported within 14 days after communicating the claim to them
- Is allowed 30 days from when you submit proof of loss statement to assess your claim. Once you evaluate the damage, the insurance company may inform you whether your claim is partly or fully covered, denied, or whether further investigation is underway.
- Is given 90 days to deny the claim or offer you a full or partial settlement for your claim. If there’s an undisputed part of the claim, the insurance company should pay the due amount while the remaining part enters mediation.
The insurance company may be responsible to pay the Residential Property Mediation.
What if the property damage was done maliciously?
If a person is found to have maliciously or willfully destroyed another person’s property, they can be charged with criminal mischief. This statute is often categorized into different levels, and the charges the perpetrator receives will depend on the value of the damages.
For example, if the property damage is valued at less than $200, the at-fault party will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. If the value is $200 to $1,000 in value, the charges will be a first-degree misdemeanor. If the damage exceeds $1,000, the police might charge the person with a third-degree felony.
In case your property got damaged through the malicious or willful actions of another person, you should notify the police of the same as soon as possible. A police report is important in such cases. Plus, if the person is still destroying your property or trying to cause you or other people harm, getting the police to the scene is a great way to keep yourself safe and prevent further damage.
Types of malicious damage to property
Malicious property damage can be something as simple as breaking another person’s car windows or something as major as defacing a wall with graffiti. Some common forms of malicious damage to the property include:
- Intentionally engaging in actions that cause damage to another person’s property
- Damaging another person’s property with fire or explosions while behaving recklessly
- Intentionally starting a fire on a property that belongs to another person
- Intentionally injuring a pet belonging to another person
- Intentionally damaging property looking to collect insurance
- The underlying feature of these crimes is that a person inflicts damage to the property knowingly and intentionally. The damage is not a result of recklessness or negligence. Examples of malicious damage include:
- Spray painting property belonging to another person intending to deface it
- Keying off the paint on another’s car
- Egging a person’s home or car
- Slashing tires on a car belonging to someone else
- Inflicting damage with feet or hands
What is typically covered under a homeowner’s policy?
Most homeowner’s insurance policies are usually designed to cover the following items:
Structure of the homes: This is meant to pay for repairing or rebuilding the structure of the house following an accident or disaster covered under the policy.
Personal property: This is meant to replace or repair the furniture, clothes, equipment, appliances, and other personal effects that are destroyed in an accident or disaster covered by the policy.
Liability protection: This covers any forms of lawsuits that might be filed about property damage or personal injury caused to another person(s) through acts of negligence or an accident on the policyholder’s property.
Additional living expenses: This is meant to pay for the expenses of residing away from home in case the house becomes uninhabitable as a result of an accident or disaster covered under the policy.
Additional events: Standard policies usually don’t include coverage for damage caused by disasters like floods or earthquakes. Homeowners can take up this additional coverage to protect their homes.
It’s worth noting that no matter the kind of insurance policy you have, the insurance company might still refuse to provide full coverage, reduce claims, or deny coverage altogether. That’s because insurance companies are in business, and will always be fighting to protect their profits. You should be ready to fight them to the end.
Hiring a property damage lawyer can help level the playing field, as the insurance company will already have a team of expert lawyers to protect their best interests, and they could easily take advantage of the situation if you choose to represent yourself.
How Can Klotzman Property Damage Law Help?
If the insurance company is denying your claim or they have offered you a low settlement offer, it’s easy to feel frustrated and overwhelmed. But you are not out of options. An experienced property damage lawyer can work to maximize your chances of receiving the compensation you need and deserve to build back your property. The following are some of the ways in which an attorney can help you with your claim.
Contract knowledge: Insurance policies are overall complex agreements that are full of legal jargon that the average person might struggle to understand. Nonetheless, it’s still important to have a clear understanding of the terms, especially those about declarations and exclusions. An experienced lawyer can help you translate and decipher your home insurance policy.
Communication and control: insurance agents and adjusters are trained to elicit statements from the policyholders during claim investigations, to devalue a claim, or get justification for denial. A skilled property damage lawyer can help handle any communications and negotiations with your insurance company. They can work to protect your rights and help prevent you from saying something that could help the outcome of your case. Your lawyer can also take full control of the claim process and communicate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Negotiation: insurance companies will sometimes offer low settlement amounts to policyholders early on in the case to avoid making huge payouts. However, you should ideally consider this as a starting point for negotiations. A skilled and experienced property damage attorney will have seen these tactics before, and he’s probably even used to dealing with nefarious insurance companies. For this reason, they are better placed to make demands on your behalf, negotiate for a higher settlement amount, and get favorable results.
Favorable scope of loss: 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.
Litigation: 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, pursuing compelling evidence, and uncovering facts that support your case to build a strong case on your behalf. Additionally, your lawyer will advocate for your rights and fight for you in the courtroom to help you get the compensation you deserve for your damaged property.
Talk to a Hollywood Property Damage Lawyer – Don’t get your legal advice from Google.
Not two cases are alike, and the Internet can’t give all the answers you’re looking for. Just like with any other legal matter, you should talk to an experienced attorney for legal guidance. For your property damage case, you want to work with an attorney who has the resources and experience to pursue compensation, whether it’s from the person who did the damage, their insurance provider, or your insurance company.
Klotzman Property Damage Law has a team of experienced Hollywood, FL property damage attorneys with an impressive track record of recovering compensation for its clients. Don’t let your insurance company intimidate you – contact us today at 954-915-7405 .