1 09, 2022

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.a. Is Tampa Bay’s Best of the Best 4-Time Winner

By |2022-09-01T19:07:52-04:00September 1st, 2022|Categories: Fire Damage Law, Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims, Tree Damage Law, Uncategorized, Water Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. has won Tampa Bay Times’ 2022 Best of the Best: People’s Choice Award. The firm has been recognized as the Best Law Firm and the Best Title Company.

This is the fourth year in a row that the firm has won as Tampa Bay’s Best of the Best.

The firm would like to thank the community members for their support. It is only due to the loyalty of their clients and staff that these awards are possible.

About Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is the oldest law firm in St. Petersburg. Established in 1958 by founding partner Anthony S. Battaglia, it has served clients for over 60 years. Many outstanding lawyers and judges call themselves alumni of the firm.

The firm’s lawyers are known for their exceptional work ethic and skills that produce successful outcomes. Their areas of practice include:

The firm has earned its outstanding reputation by putting their clients first. They have extensive trial experience and an impressive success record for many high-profile cases involving complex legal issues.

A Legacy of Excellence

For decades, U.S. News & World Reports has recognized Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. as one of the best law firms in America. They rank as a Tier 1 law firm in their category of Metropolitain law firms.

The firm has collectively won over 425 awards and accolades. The lawyers at the firm have earned some of the most esteemed awards available to lawyers, like:

  • Florida Trend Legal Elite
  • Florida Super Lawyers 2022
  • The Best Lawyers in America
  • Best of the Bay by Creative Loafing
  • Lawyers of Distinction

The People’s Choice Law Firm

Community members choose the People’s Choice Best of the Best Award. With over 135,000 votes, the award recognizes the top businesses and organizations in the area. Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is honored to be selected by the community for this award.

For more information about the firm, visit www.stpetelawgroup.com. Or, if you have any legal questions, call (727) 381-2300.

15 02, 2022

Should Your Mold Insurance Claim Actually Be a Water Damage Claim?

By |2022-02-15T12:37:43-05:00February 15th, 2022|Categories: Water Damage Law|Tags: , |

If you’re looking to make a mold insurance claim, it’s advised to consider making a water damage claim instead as well.

Many people notice mold growth in their homes and quickly jump to file mold insurance claims. The problem you should be worried about may actually be a water issue, which is causing mold growth.

A mold insurance claim alone may be subject to limited coverages and may not ultimately uncover the real source of the problem. This is why filing both a mold and water damage claim may be required.

Mold Insurance Claims vs. Water Damage Claims

What Is Mold Damage?

Mold damage is the presence of mold in a building that causes damage to property, furniture and personal belongings. If left unaddressed for a long time, mold can weaken the structural integrity of the building as it damages walls, floors, roof and wood.

Mold can also be a health concern for inhabitants, as the spores can cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems, respiratory infections or asthma.

What Is a Mold Insurance Claim?

A mold insurance claim is a type of property damage claim that seeks compensation for cleaning and repairs of the mold damage.

However, mold growth claims are usually subject to lower insurance coverage limits. There usually must be a reason for the mold growth, such as a sudden, unforeseen disaster.

Insurance companies will almost certainly not cover a mold insurance claim caused by a preventable issue such as poor maintenance, appliance usage or poor ventilation.

What Is a Water Damage Claim?

Water damage claims seek compensation to cover the costs of repairs for damage caused by water.

Water damage is caused by internal issues such as a plumbing disaster. For example, if a pipe suddenly bursts, then it would cause water damage.

We regularly get calls about minor mold damage, which is actually caused by a far bigger water problem.

Determine the Cause of Mold

In the cases of mold, you may or may not be aware of a water damage-related issue causing mold growth. For example, you may have a damaged pipe inside a wall.

In these scenarios, you should make a water damage claim.

Determining the cause of the mold is the best way to know whether you should make a water damage claim. You may require an inspection of your property.

Possible Causes of Water Damage:

Mold may be caused by water damage problems such as:

  • Ruptured pipes
  • Ruptured water heater
  • Appliance malfunction and leaks
  • Other unforeseeable plumbing issues
  • HVAC systems failing to drain
  • Automatic fire systems

What if Mold Was Caused By a Natural Disaster?

If you have mold following a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, flood or rainstorm, then coverage will come under a ‘flood insurance claim’.

While water damage claims cover accidents caused in the building, flood damage claims cover external events that are unpreventable.

However, coverage will not be applied if you don’t take the necessary steps to minimize the damage by shutting windows.

Read our guide on Water Damage vs. Flood Damage

Possible Causes of Flood Damage:

  • Hurricanes and storms
  • Rainstorms
  • Rivers overflowing
  • Lakes overflowing
  • Flooding from the ocean

How Do I Make a Water Damage Claim in Florida?

After you have determined that you have sustained water damage to your home, you should file a water damage claim:

Document the Damage

Document the damage immediately. Take photos of the damaged areas and evidence of the source of water – such as a damaged pipe, roof damage or water stain on a wall. If you have old photos of the home before the damage, get them ready to send to your insurer as they can show a before and after comparison.

Turn off water pipes and open windows to prevent further humidity issues but don’t clean or attempt to repair anything until an adjuster has reviewed the property – unless it is an immediate emergency (such as severe leaks).

Contact Your Insurance Company

Immediately notify your insurance company about the mold and water damage as soon as possible. A representative will ask you many questions about your claim to determine whether you have coverage under your homeowner’s policy.

It’s important to state you have photos of the damage and that it is caused by water or flooding – to avoid paying two deductibles. If it has been caused by flooding, you may need a flooding policy add-on.

Do I Need an Attorney for My Mold Damage?

Property damage claims can be quite stressful and tiresome. When it comes to mold damage, things can get even more complicated than usual.

Your insurer may try to blame you for the mold damage by saying things like, “The mold wasn’t caused by the water issue”, “You should have fixed it earlier” or “the mold is caused by poor ventilation”.

They may undervalue your claim or even outright deny it. Insurance companies are for-profit and will do everything they can to prevent paying you the money you need. That’s not right.

When you bought the policy, you expected to be protected in scenarios such as these.

As Florida property damage claim attorneys, we know their tricks. Having worked in the insurance industry ourselves, we don’t get bullied or manipulated by insurers. It’s very easy to get pressured into a low-ball offer, but we will communicate on your behalf to ensure you get coverage for the true value of your damage.

How to Prevent Mold Damage:

The best way to prevent mold damage is to prevent its growth. Florida is particularly mold-prone so it’s not unusual to have mold grow without big water or flood problems. You should:

  • Turn off your building’s water immediately if you suspect or see leaking or burst pipes.
  • Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to reduce humidity to 30-60%.
  • Ensure your home is properly insulated.
  • Install extraction fans in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Regularly clean out gutters.
  • Ensure your home has adequate ventilation – by installing ventilation holes if needed and allowing for fresh air.
  • Check crawl spaces, laundry rooms and beneath sinks for mold growth.
  • Replace hoses to appliances every five years to prevent leaks.
  • Remove any standing water immediately after photographing the damage.
  • Dry out any rugs or affected furniture.

How to Spot Mold:

If you’ve recently had water damage or flood damage incident, you may soon start to see mold growth in your home. Dealing with it fast can reduce the damage to your home and health. Here’s how you can spot it:

Smell

Mold has a very distinct smell. It can be compared to rotting leaves or may bring out the smell of paint on your walls.

The smell will be strong in the room where it is growing. If you smell it when you turn on your AC it is likely in that system. If you smell mold but can’t find it, it may be under an appliance, carpet or behind a wall.

Sight

Mold is often obvious and can be seen on walls, ceilings and wood. It will likely start as small black or gray spots or furry textures before growing into large merged stains.

However, sometimes it may be hard to find and be hidden behind furniture, sinks, appliances or in crawl spaces.

Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Water Damage Claims

Free Consultations!

If your property has suffered water damage or flood damage in Florida, then contact us today for a free consultation.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate property damage insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

5 12, 2021

What’s the Difference Between Water Damage & Flood Damage?

By |2021-12-05T13:08:13-05:00December 5th, 2021|Categories: Insurance Claims, Water Damage Law|Tags: , , , |

Once hurricane season has done its damage, many homeowners are left confused about what the difference is between water damage and flood damage.

While these may seem like two of the same things, they’re actually completely different in the property damage insurance industry.

Why is it important to know the difference between water damage and flood damage? Because one is often missing from your usual homeowners or hurricane insurance policy – so, if you’re aren’t aware, you could be left paying for substantial repair bills.

Here’s what you need to know:

What Is Water Damage in Florida?

Water damage usually is caused by internal issues within the house, such as a plumbing disaster.

For example, imagine you’re at home, watching a movie with the kids, when suddenly you see water flowing down the stairs like a waterfall because a bathroom pipe has burst.

That’s water damage.

Examples of Water Damage:

  • Burst pipes
  • Toilet overflowing
  • Bathtub or shower leaks
  • Refrigerator or freezer leaks
  • Washing machine leaks
  • Dishwasher leaks
  • HVAC systems failing to drain
  • Automatic fire systems

What Is Flood Damage in Florida?

Flood damage defines damage caused by Mother Nature’s external force. Whereas water damage is caused by plumbing, toilets or human error, Flood damage is caused by natural sources such as storms and rivers.

If a river in your neighborhood rises over its banks into your home, that’s flood damage.

Examples of Flood Damage in Florida:

  • Hurricanes and storms
  • Rainstorms
  • Rivers overflowing
  • Lakes overflowing
  • Flooding from the ocean

What Does This Mean in a Property Damage Claim?

If you don’t have both included in your insurance policy, you’re at risk of not being covered for one of these types of damage.

Usually, Florida residents will have water damage coverage and not flood damage coverage.

Given that Florida is extremely vulnerable to violent storms and hurricanes, having flood damage in your policy is highly advised.

If you’re unsure, pull out your insurance policy document and read over the terms.

Is Flood Damage Covered in Hurricane Policies?

If a hurricane causes flooding in your home, you will not be covered by your hurricane damage policy in Florida.

Sadly, many people make this assumption and are left to cover a huge bill after a hurricane.

A separate flood insurance policy is required to cover all flood damage, even if it is caused by the most violent hurricane in history.

There is usually a 30-day waiting period when adding flood insurance, so it’s always advised to be proactive rather than reactive and buy the additional policy now.

What to Do if My Property Has Suffered Water Damage or Flood Damage in Florida?

File a Property Damage Claim

If your property has suffered water damage or flood damage in Florida, you can file a property damage claim to cover the expenses required for repairs.

However, this is easier said than done.

Property damage claims will require you to communicate and negotiate with insurance companies who have one intention – to pay you as little as possible.

In many cases, we’ve seen homeowners denied completely, as the insurance company claims it was because a window was left open, for example.

Undervalued claims are also a common trick used by insurance companies, as they pressure property owners into a lowball offer.

Accepting these offers leaves the owners without enough coverage for their repairs and they end up paying money out of their own pocket.

Speak to a Water Damage Attorney

That’s why it’s highly advised that you first speak to a Florida water damage attorney. We will communicate with the insurers on your behalf, avoiding their manipulation techniques and getting you the true coverage for your property damage.

Document The Damage

If safe to do so, you should also document the water damage or flood damage as this can become crucial evidence.

Take pictures of the property and keep receipts for appliances and any emergency repairs.

What Damage Is Caused by Water and Flooding?

When disaster strikes, either inside or outside of the home, your property may suffer severe flooding and water-inflicted damage. This can result in catastrophic damage that is expensive to repair and may not be immediately visible. This may include:

Structural and Electrical Damage

Large quantities of water can cause structural damage that can make the property unsafe to live in.

  • Buckling floors
  • Roof damage
  • Foundational cracks and movements
  • Weakened doors and window frames

Additionally, if you notice any broken or frayed electrical wires in your home after a flood, be very careful. These may be lethal and are warning signs to stay out of the home immediately until an electrician assesses them.

Appliance Damage

Appliances are expensive purchases that can be destroyed in seconds by water. Appliances at floor level are usually severely damaged in floods, beyond repair. Appliances are usually covered in flood damage or water damage claims.

Mold and Mildew

Mold can begin to grow on the same day the water or flood damage occurs. Mold can cause health issues and severe damage to building materials, drywall, flooring, insulation and personal property.

Professional mold cleaning and repairs can be covered in a property damage claim.

Septic and Well Water Systems

Septic tank filters can get clogged by flooding debris, limiting its use. Similarly, wells can become contaminated.

Termite and Bug Infestation

Moldy and flooded areas can quickly become the perfect home and breeding grounds for rodents, termites and unpleasant bugs. Cleaning out these will require professional services that should be covered in water damage or flood damage claims.

Recap – What’s the Difference Between Water Damage and Flood Damage Claims?

  • Water damage is caused by internal disasters, such as burst pipes and plumbing accidents.
  • Flood damage is caused by acts of nature, such as hurricanes and flooding rivers.

Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Water Damage and Flood Damage Claims

Free Consultations!

If your property has suffered damage due to water damage or flood damage in Florida, then contact us today for a free consultation.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate property damage insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.