Whenever a natural disaster, plumbing issue, or accident damages your home, you might take comfort knowing that you’re covered by a homeowners’ insurance policy. However, in reality, getting what you deserve from an insurance company could turn into an endless battle spanning months or years.
Insurance companies often employ a range of tactics to try and deny property owners a fair payout. You don’t have to accept an unreasonable delay, denial, or underpayment of your property damage claim.
Working with an experienced property damage attorney will help reduce the complications and stress of securing compensation, especially if your insurance provider is denying your claim.
At Klotzman Law Firm in Miami, FL, our team knows how to handle insurance companies and can fight restlessly to get an adequate settlement on your behalf. Contact us today at 954-915-7405 to schedule a free consultation with a Miami property damage lawyer.
What Do I Do After My Property Has Been Damaged?
When your home, condo, or business is damaged, you might not know exactly what you should do. For the best results, consider taking the following steps to help you recover the maximum compensation from your insurance company.
Protect Against More Damage
When your property has sustained significant damage, whether it’s from a plumbing failure or storm damage, the first thing you want to do is to limit further deterioration. For instance, if your home becomes flooded due to a burst pipe, the first step is to turn off the mains water to stop further water leakage.
If your roof has been damaged, you want to cover up the area using a tarp to avoid further damage to the inside of your property. When you do everything you can to protect your property, the insurance company will not be able to argue that you allowed the further deterioration of your property by doing nothing.
Document the Damage
A great way of reducing the chances of having your claim delayed or denied is gathering comprehensive evidence of the property damage. You should document everything and capture as many details as possible.
Take photos or videos of the damaged rooms and items. Don’t forget to also capture the damage on the outside of your house and the yard area. In case the roof is affected, take pictures of the damage from the inside and outside, along with the water intrusion. It’s also wise to make a written inventory of the damage.
File an Insurance Claim as Soon as Possible
Once your property becomes damaged, you likely have a million things to do. Nonetheless, ensure that you prioritize contacting your insurance company. Getting the compensation you deserve can take some time. As such, the sooner you start filing the claim, the faster you can receive the funds you need to repair your home.
Keep a Written Journal of Your Claim’s Timeline
Journaling your claim over time is also essential. Be sure to include all the communications you have with your insurance provider. As your claim progresses, you will be interacting with claim(s) handlers, adjusters, contractors, etc.
The insurance companies will probably be hoping that the process is confusing and complicated for you. Having a journal of the events will be crucial when you eventually hire an attorney.
Contact a Miami Property Damage Attorney
Reaching out to a lawyer for help early on in the process is a crucial step toward getting the compensation you deserve. In case your insurance company is already making lowball offers, delaying, or denying your claim, getting legal help and guidance can be vital.
Our Miami property damage attorneys can walk you through your options when it comes to fighting unfair dismissals, delays, denials, and lowball offers.
What Are Common Types of Property Damage?
The following are some of the most common types of property damage claims in Miami.
Wind and Hail Damage
Hail and wind damage is the most common type of property damage and is typically caused by hailstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other strong storms. Storms typically bring winds that can rip the roof apart and throw debris at your walls, which could lead to expensive repairs.
Some of the most common forms of wind damage include:
- Broken windows
- Broken outdoor furniture
- Damaged solar panels
- Damaged air conditioning units
- Uprooted or fallen trees
- Damaged walls from flying debris
- Missing or broken shutters
- Water intrusion
- Severely damaged exterior cladding, paintwork, etc
Keep in mind that the extent of water damage may not be immediately obvious. It’s therefore always to get a proper appraisal with the help of a Miami property damage lawyer to make sure that you and your insurance company don’t miss anything.
Examples of water damage include:
- Damaged furniture
- Damaged appliances
- Structural damage
- Discoloration of ceilings, walls, and floors
- Bug and termite infestation
- Mildew and mold
- Weakened foundations
Fire and Lightning Damage
Fires that occur in homes can be brutal. Whether they started as lightning strikes or in the kitchen, fires can spread fast and burn pretty much anything in their path. They can also spread chemicals and smoke throughout your property.
It’s therefore vital that your insurance policy covers fire damage as it can strike just about anyone at any time.
It’s worth noting that insurance companies often find ways to blame homeowners for fires, from accusing you of arson to violating your policy. That’s why you should always get in touch with the property damage attorney to protect your rights.
Examples of fire damage include:
- Damaged electrical and plumbing systems
- Damaged electrical items and appliances
- Destroyed furniture
- Discoloration of walls and belongings
- Odor from smoke
- Structural damage
- Foundation damage
- Roof damage
Theft and burglary incidents are frightening and costly affairs. From stolen items and valuables to smashed windows and broken doors, you deserve full compensation for losses and damage.
While these kinds of damages are usually protected under home insurance policies, many insurers are often hesitant to pay out the necessary compensation. They might blame you for not installing adequate security or undervalue your items.
Fortunately, working with an experienced property damage lawyer can help you recover the full payout.
Miami property owners are well aware of the damage trees can cause during storms and hurricanes. Strong winds could rip trees from the ground and cause them to smash into walls and windows while devastating the yard. Tree damage could also occur naturally, from encroaching roots to falling tree branches which happen virtually every day.
While tree damage claims could seem pretty simple, they are often more complicated than you might think. Branches and roots could cross property lines, causing claim denials from insurance providers.
If your property has incurred any form of tree damage, you should get in touch with a Miami property damage lawyer to make a case that provides the compensation you deserve.
Who Is Responsible for Property Damage?
Unless you intentionally caused damage to your property or don’t have homeowners insurance, your insurance provider or another party may bear responsibility for either the full or partial cost of the damage.
Some of the potentially responsible parties include:
Any unauthorized persons on your property will be held responsible for the damage that they caused.
Contractors and Subcontractors
Individuals on your property on the grounds of performing any type of work are obligated to provide quality workmanship and avoid defects or substandard work. If any person walking on your property doesn’t live up to this standard, they will be held responsible for the immediate or future damage caused by their actions.
Your local government agencies, including counties and cities, are obligated to maintain public structures and property in a way that prevents damage. If the city government fails to maintain, say a green belt, they will be responsible for the damage caused by falling branches.
Your insurance provider we’ll also be responsible for property damage, though this is subject to the terms of your current homeowners’ insurance policy. Receiving compensation involves submitting a claim through the insurance provider.
Of course, this is not a comprehensive list and a lawyer can help you assess the specifics of your case to determine which individual or entity can be held responsible. Once responsibility is established, you can take inventory of the costs and losses associated with the damage.
What if the Property Damage Was Done Maliciously?
Based on Florida statute 806.13, a person could be charged with criminal mischief if he/she willfully or maliciously destroyed another person’s personal property. This statute is divided into different levels, and how the perpetrator is charged will be based on the value of the damage.
For instance, if the property damage is valued at less than $200, the perpetrator will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. If the value of the damage is between $200 and $1000, the charges will rise to a first-degree misdemeanor. If the property damage is more than $1000, the police could charge the person with a third-degree felony.
If your private property was destroyed by the actions of another person, it’s important to notify the Miami police of the events as soon as possible. Having a police report is essential when it comes to filing a claim for damages.
If an individual or entity is maliciously destroying your property or even trying to cause you harm, calling the police is an effective way to prevent further damage and keep you safe.
Types of Malicious Damage to Property
It could be something quite simple like throwing a person’s purse or backpack to the ground or something as serious as defacing a wall with graffiti. Some of the common types of malicious damage to property we come across include:
- Breaking a window or door
- Writing graffiti on another person’s property
- Breaking another person’s cell phone
- Throwing belongings into a body of water
- Damaging another person’s bicycle, motorbike, or other vehicles
- Slashing car tires, keying car paint, smashing car windows, etc.
- Smashing personal property
What Is Typically Covered Under a Homeowner’s Policy?
While homeowners insurance policies can differ, most of them usually cover the following items:
The standard insurance typically covers the structure of your home, including the walls, foundations, and roof. The policy may also cover any structures that are attached to or detached from the main house, such as the deck, porch, shed, and garage.
Depending on the specifics of your policy, your home should be covered from events such as:
- Storm damage, including hurricane, wind, hail, and tornado damage
- Flood damage (if specifically included in the policy)
- Fire and smoke damage
- Mold and mildew damage
- Fallen trees
- Theft and vandalism
- Sinkholes (if included in your policy)
- Damage from a car accident
Homeowners insurance also provides coverage for personal property within your home, including the following:
- Electronic items and appliances
- Laptops, computers, tablets, and phones
Most homeowners’ insurance policies will also provide coverage from liability claims when someone is injured on your property. Liability coverage can help you pay for the injured person’s medical bills and legal costs if they get harmed on your property and you’re deemed to be at fault for the accident.
The standard homeowners’ insurance policies provide coverage for damage caused by lightning, fires, and storms.
However, they don’t protect homeowners from all forms of natural disasters and unexpected eventualities. For instance, damages caused by earthquakes or flooding are usually not covered by standard policies. For this reason, many homeowners in Miami often choose to purchase additional coverage to protect their homes.
Despite paying for a policy and even purchasing additional coverage for additional disasters like earthquakes, insurance companies could still refuse coverage, delay or reduce claims.
This is because insurance companies are in business, and they will always fight to protect their bottom line. It’s therefore always wise to be prepared to fight them to the end.
To level the playing field and have the best chances against them, you want to hire a Miami property damage attorney to ensure that you’re not taken advantage of by the insurance company.
How Can Klotzman Law Firm Help Me?
Your house is among the biggest assets you likely own. It’s also a place that you and your family call home. Seeing the home you love destroyed or damaged by a storm or fire can be a confusing and traumatizing experience. You might be worried if you will get the settlement you need to rebuild or repair your home.
Our Miami property damage lawyers at Klotzman Law Firm are here for you. The following are some of the ways we can help.
Helping You Understand Your Homeowners’ Insurance Policy
Insurance policies can be long-winded, complicated, and full of jargon. Nonetheless, understanding what your policy contains, especially when it comes to coverage exclusions, is critical when it comes to getting the compensation you are eligible for.
Handling Communications With the Insurance Company
Allowing your attorney to handle all the communication and negotiation with the insurance provider can help protect your legal rights. It’s quite common for some insurers to manipulate policyholders into providing statements that the company could later use to deny or devalue their claim.
Your attorney will essentially take charge of the claims process and protect you by handling the negotiations and communications with your insurer.
Negotiating for a Fair Settlement
Insurance companies will often offer lowball settlement amounts initially, in an attempt to avoid huge payouts. Our experienced attorneys are well aware of this, and they can tell when an offer is fair or when you should consider an offer as a starting point for negotiations.
We have extensive negotiation experience and will work to ensure that you don’t settle for less. Plus, the insurance companies will be sure that we don’t shy away from going to court.
Filing a Lawsuit
In case the negotiations for a fair settlement are unsuccessful, we won’t hesitate to go all the way to fight for you in the courtroom. When we take a case, we are aiming for a full and fair compensation amount that will let you repair and rebuild your home as well as replace the property damaged in a covered event.
With this in mind, you can rest easy knowing that your case is in safe hands, and it’s their job to investigate, collect evidence, deal with the insurance company, and complete the documentation needed throughout the claim. This should give you the time to recollect your life following such a huge loss.
Talk to Our Miami Property Damage Lawyers About Your Case!
Damage to your home or other property from unforeseen events requires immediate attention. If your home insurance policy against property damage was valid at the time of the event, your insurance provider should be liable for the costs.
However, many insurance companies will put profit over your welfare, and are likely to avoid paying the full amount.
The experienced attorneys at Klotzman Law Firm in Miami, FL can handle your case. We take pride in protecting the rights of our clients from money-hungry insurance companies, and we’ll toil to get you the maximum recovery available for your claim.
Call us at 954-915-7405 to schedule a free consultation with us and learn more about how we can help.