News related to "Property Damage Attorney"

brought to you by St Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas

22 10, 2018

Hurricane Michael Insurance Claim?

By |2018-10-22T11:40:08-04:00October 22nd, 2018|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims|Tags: , , , |

Hurricane Michael formed from a tropical disturbance off of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. As a loosely organized tropical system, it rapidly formed into a hurricane on October 7, 2018 and subsequently made landfall in the Florida Panhandle at Mexico Beach on October 10, 2018, as a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane. While most Floridians were spared any significant damage from Hurricane Michael, the Florida Panhandle, specifically the cities of Mexico Beach and Panama City, suffered the worst of this major Category 4, almost Category 5, hurricane. To put the power of this hurricane in perspective, Hurricane Michael was the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the United States only behind the 1935 Labor Day hurricane and Hurricane Camille in 1969. It was the strongest in terms of maximum sustained winds since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. All of these unfortunate stats mean that the Florida Panhandle has been decimated by this force of nature.

Hurricane Michael Insurance Adjusting

While the nation and most of Florida watched as the Hurricane Michael narrowed its sights on the Panhandle, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people were going to be devastated by this hurricane. Not only from the damages it has incurred, but the impact it would have on their lives and livelihoods. In times such as these, home and business owners often take some relief in the fact that they have insurance policies in place for hurricane and flood damage. They hope that once the wind subsidies and waters recede, their insurance companies will pay insurance benefits to repair their home or business. Unfortunately, this belief is all too often untrue. Homeowners and flood insurance companies do their best to adjust the claims which will be forthcoming after Michael however; they will be flooded with these claims. As a result, claims will be wrongly underpaid or outright denied. The causes of these underpayments and denials are far-reaching but many result in the fact that the insurance companies enlist ill-prepared field adjustors and claims handlers which results in poor coverage decisions on behalf of home and business owners. Unfortunately, the home and/or business owner is left with dealing with the harsh reality that an insurance company may not be fully covering what it is legally obligated to cover. In order to help the victims of Hurricane Michael, I have put together a list of items an home or business owner may find helpful in facilitating their own insurance claim. Provided the insured has performed everything they’re supposed to under the policy, then it is up to the insurance company to do the right thing. If the insurance company refuses to do the right thing, Property Damage Attorney Jonathon Douglas stands by ready to assist in any way possible.

What to do for your Hurricane Michael Insurance Claim

Most insurance policies typically have a section entitled “Your Duties After Loss”. These duties are directed at the policyholder and should be complied with to avoid any sort of coverage issues that the insurance company may try to assert. A trick in this paragraph is oftentimes found in the first sentence wherein the insurance company sometimes states that “we have no duty to provide coverage under this policy if the failure to comply with the following duties is prejudicial to us.” This is sample language from a HO-3 Homeowner’s policy; however, it illustrates the potential for a “gotcha”-type tactic insurance companies can use to avoid providing insurance coverage. Generally, an insured (homeowner or business owner) must perform the following:

  • Give prompt notice to the insurance company or your insurance agent.
  • Provide reasonable access to the property to allow the insurance company to inspect the loss.
  • To the extent reasonable, retain damaged property and allow inspection of same prior to disposal.
  • Protect the covered property from further damage. This means you must take reasonable emergency measures that are necessary to protect covered property from additional damage and you must keep an accurate record of repair expenses.
  • Cooperate with the insurance company during the investigation of the claim.
  • Prepare an inventory of damaged personal property in the format requested by the insurance company.
  • As often as the insurance company requires:
    • Provide records and documentation insurance company requests;
    • Submit to recorded statements when requested;
    • Submit to an examination under oath if requested;
    • Allow samples to be taken of the damaged or undamaged property;
    • Execute any and all authorizations for release of information requests by the insurance company.
  • Provide the insurance company with a proof of loss form when requested.

Cooperating with your insurance company is imperative to facilitating the adjustment of the claim. While you may fully cooperate with the insurance company, this does not guarantee or ensure the insurance company will fairly and accurately adjust your claim. Remember, there is always the option to get a second opinion on the value of your claim. St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon Douglas and his team focus on providing homeowners and business-owners evaluation and analysis of their insurance claims and will provide the much-needed second opinion related to your Hurricane Michael insurance claim. Don’t settle for what the insurance company initially offers to pay or their initial coverage decision! Call us now for a free consultation.

9 10, 2018

Hurricane Michael Preparedness

By |2018-10-09T14:27:43-04:00October 9th, 2018|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims, Tree Damage Law|Tags: , , , |

As Tropical Storm Michael formed into a Category 1 hurricane on October 8, 2018, I couldn’t help but recall the weeks-long drama leading up to the landfall of Hurricane Irma in September of 2017. Unlike Irma, which developed off the coast of Africa, Hurricane Michael developed from a low-pressure system off the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. While Floridians will not have nearly the amount of time to prepare as they did for Irma’s landfall, there is still plenty of time to take necessary precautions to protect your property and safety. The forecast has Hurricane Michael making landfall Wednesday, October 10th, along the Panhandle/Big Bend area of Florida. According to recent news reports, Hurricane Michael is forecast to strengthen to a Category 3 prior to making landfall. Hurricanes with a rating of Category 3 or higher are considered to be “major” hurricanes. The sustained winds in a Category 3 storm are between 111-129 mph. According to the National Hurricane Center, the type of damage resulting from a Category 3 storm is considered “devastating”. The National Hurricane Center defines devastating damage as “well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Water and electricity will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.”

Considering the nature of this rapidly strengthening hurricane, Governor Rick Scott extended a State of Emergency for the Tampa Bay area as well as areas along the Panhandle and Big Bend. Governor Scott was quoted as saying “This storm will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous”. The life-threatening nature of hurricanes often times occur after the hurricane has already passed but the damage has prevented people from receiving emergency medical treatment based upon road closures, power outages, and supply chain interruptions. Accordingly, to avoid these life-threatening type of scenarios and to heed Governor Scott’s warning, please follow of all evacuation recommendations made by authorities. If you are in an evacuation zone, do not take this recommendation lightly. Only take what you really need with you like your cell phone, medicines, identification, and cash. Be sure you have an emergency kit for your vehicle and ample fuel in your vehicle to avoid the path of the hurricane and seek a safe evacuation location. Finally, be sure to follow the roads which emergency workers recommend, even if there is traffic. Other roads may be blocked and while services such as Waze or Google Maps may show open roads, these roads can quickly become overrun or blocked by debris.

It is important to give consideration to developing an evacuation plan which you share with friends and family members outside of the evacuation area. This will allow them to know where you should be at important time intervals, even in the absence of cell phone service. Developing a written evacuation plan does wonders in reducing the already astronomically high levels of stress that evacuees are going through as well as reducing the stress of their loved ones not impacted by the evacuation orders.

While Michael is developing into a major hurricane, please be sure to stay up to date on the latest news developments. If you are able, try to take photographs of your home/business as well as personal belongings within each so as to document any and all before and after evidence which will be valuable in your hurricane property damage claim which will follow Hurricane Michael. Hurricane Michael will be causing significant damage to homes and businesses throughout the Panhandle area of Florida. It is important to immediately report your insurance claim when the infrastructure and reporting avenues are renewed. Even though an insurance policyholder may have coverage for hurricane loss, this does not mean that the insurance company will properly or fairly adjust your Hurricane Michael claim. Please remember that it is very important to receive a second opinion with regard to your hurricane damage insurance claim. As oftentimes is the case, insurance companies hire outside adjusting firms who may not have the knowledge or experience to fully and fairly adjust your hurricane loss. Accordingly, don’t delay in contacting St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas for a free consultation regarding your Hurricane Michael insurance claim.

11 09, 2018

Hurricane Preparation: What is Needed, How to Prepare, and Legal Action for Damage

By |2018-09-11T14:44:34-04:00September 11th, 2018|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , |

Hurricane season officially began on June 1st. It will last until the end of November. 2017 was a busy year for tropical storms and hurricanes. At times people were wondering if 2017 was going to be the worse year we’ve ever had in terms of hurricanes. With storms brewing on the coastal horizon, it is wise to address the needs of the many people who live in areas, such as Florida, who deal with hurricanes often. A Florida hurricane can pop up at any given time during the hurricane season. Lately, it appears like they often do. With storms being so consistent, it is always smart to go over proper hurricane preparation. These preparations would include things such as: what a person needs to prepare, how to waterproof or protect their house as much as possible, and how to reach out for legal support if needed.

What Do I Need to Prepare for a Hurricane?

When it comes to hurricane preparation people often feel overwhelmed. A hurricane hitting your home is a situation that tends to cause a raised level of anxiety. It is 1st important that you do not panic. Remember, there is nothing you can do to move, stop or sway this hurricane. The only thing you can do is stay calm and plan for the worse, as best as you possibly can.

To begin, let’s take a look at some of the most common emergency supplies in preparation for a storm.

  • Bottled Water: It is important to remember that you will need enough water for everyone for at least a few days. A typical person needs about a gallon of water a day, while dogs need 1.75L of water per day. Cats will need significantly less water than this.
  • Radio: Keeping a battery powered or wind up radio is important to gather news as to what is currently happening in your emergency situation, you can also have a radio or cell phone to call out for help if required.
  • Canned Goods: Remember to gather enough food for everyone for a couple of days. Canned food is perfect as it last longer and does not spoil without refrigeration.
  • Medical Supplies: Always keep adequate medical supplies on hand in case of a medical emergency. Simple things like bandages, gauze, antiseptic and other disinfectants can be useful. You can also add in simple medications such as over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Flashlight: Remember to keep at least 1 flashlight with your emergency kit. The electric will likely go out during a hurricane and you will require light.

There are always less significant and less common materials that people often keep on hand, some of these include things such as:

  • Toilet paper
  • Manual can opener
  • Hygiene products
  • Medical guides, printed from the internet
  • Flares
  • Jumping Cables
  • Can of Gasoline

Keep in mind that many people also add additional ice to their refrigerators and freezers to store their water and to help keep food longer. It is important that if you do this, you remember to keep the fridge and freezer door closed as much as possible. By keeping the cold locked in the airtight space, you ensure that your food does not spoil very quickly. If your foo spoils and you eat it, you risk illness in an emergency situation. Which, of course, can be very dangerous and even life-threatening.

Protect Your House

In addition to proper flood insurance, make sure you fortify your house to protect glass windows and reduce water damage. A Florida hurricane can devastate your house, protect it with the following tips:

  • Board up windows
  • Turn gas and power off
  • Keep trees cut away from the house

If you decide to stay home during a hurricane always remember to make a family plan and designate a safe room for your family. Follow the tips on turning the gas and power off to prevent gas leaks and potential fires. Remember to board up all windows to reduce shattering glass and prevent injuries.

What About Legal Help When It Comes to Damage?

You would not think to link together legal advice and hurricane damage. However, more times than not, people find themselves on one side of a legal battle after a natural disaster. There are many times a person may need to seek the advice of a lawyer after a hurricane.

Many flood insurance and house insurance policies try to word things in their contracts and plan to trick members. You may find yourself on the worse end of this after a hurricane strikes and destroys your home. There are laws protecting the people against unfair practices in insurance claims. Do not simply take “no” for an answer from your insurance provider. Always seek legal advice as to what can and cannot be covered. There is no reason for you as an insurance holder to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars in insurance yearly just to be told that you are not covered. Seeking legal advice can help with damage and allow you to rebuild what you lose.

You can also use a legal team to help with damage to your business. Be sure to obtain proper insurance for your business alongside your house. Be sure to utilize a legal team to assess the damage done to your business and to your house. While flood insurance companies can provide these services, their quotes can often be on the low side. Make sure you are getting a fair and accurate quote by supplying your own damage assessment.

11 09, 2018

How To Hire The Best Attorney After Suffering From Hurricane Damage

By |2018-09-11T13:54:11-04:00September 11th, 2018|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , |

A hurricane is sea-storm-cyclone that generates winds of 74 miles per hour or greater. It typically occurs in conjunction with thunder, lightning, and rain. What do you do when your house is damaged? This is the time for a good insurance policy, a great lawyer and in some cases both.

The Aftermath Of A Hurricane: Crisis Control

Being a lifelong resident of Florida I’ve seen my shares of hurricanes. Some came and went with little to no serious damage, while others have caused devastating damage. We should feel some comfort that our insurance company will take care of us when we file an insurance claim. But, what happens when your insurance company fails you in regard to coverage and support? When should you get a lawyer involved in the process?

Picking Up The Pieces

Property damage and even loss of life can knock us off track. It can be an arduous task of picking up the pieces and rebuilding. Don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer to help settle with insurance companies that aren’t honoring your policy. But don’t settle for just any lawyer. This is something you need to consider carefully so vet your choice properly.

What Are Public Adjusters?

Often after suffering damage from a storm, like a flood damage, wind damage, trees falling through a rooftop and even lightning damage, homeowners may be contacted by a public adjuster. Public adjusters have licensed representatives that are legally qualified to manage claims on behalf of policyholders. They negotiate with the insurance companies with the aim of getting the best outcome for their clients. They will charge their clients a percentage of their settlement as compensation for their time and effort.

How Much Does A Public Adjuster Charge For Their Assistance?

Public adjusters typically receive between 10%-20% of the settlement they are engaged in.

What Exactly Do Public Adjusters Do?

  • They represent the policy holder’s best interest (negotiate for their client) and help settle with insurance policy discrepancies with insurance companies
  • They enter and oversee all submissions made to the insurance company
  • They appraise all damages incurred
  • They draw up all related documentation associated with the claim (Estimate, presentations, arguments, etc…)
  • They will attempt to resolve issues with claims that are not covered under their client’s policy

The Pros And Cons Of Public Adjusters

Although it may be true that Public Adjusters usually charge less than a lawyer for their services, the thing to be aware of is that there are some adjusters who work for insurance companies. These public adjusters have their employers best interest at heart, not yours. There is currently no licensing or regulatory agency so be careful. Make sure you vet your choice. Check reviews and see if how high their customer satisfaction rating is.

You might come across an independent public adjuster that is good at what he/she does. But guess what, even though you may have found a good public adjuster, you’ll still have to hire a lawyer. So you’ll have to pay the public adjuster 10%-20% and then 25%-50% to a lawyer. Those figures are simply unacceptable.

Get yourself A Qualified Attorney To Represent You

When your claims are not honored as you feel they should when their compensation isn’t sufficient enough for your needs, begin researching lawyers. Contact only qualified lawyers with experience in hurricane damage claims. If you have a legitimate claim that your insurance company has denied, a qualified lawyer will know what avenues to explore to get the best outcome for you. They get you the best resolution without involving the unnecessary middleman (public adjuster).

Why Should I Hire An Attorney To Help With My Hurricane Damage Insurance Claim?

Insurance companies have a culture of paying their customers the least possible amount they can get away with. Often they deny claims that are legitimate because most people won’t fight for what’s rightfully theirs. You need to have a fearless presentation. Acquire a law firm with a proven track record of winning for their clients. Do your research and once you’ve collected three or more candidates call them and see if you can consult with them.

How Much Will It Cost To Hire An Attorney?

Believe it or not, they usually will not cost you any out of pocket expenses. This will be compensated from the insurance company, along with every fee and costs associated with your claim.

Everything You Should Do Before Contacting Anyone

  • Note And Catalog All Damages (date all photos, audio, and notes)
  • Analyze your insurance policy in totality
  • Create a witness list and video record everyone along with their account of the damage and loss they incurred
  • Create your list of loss and video as much as you can to make your claim stronger (Brand names, the number of the model, etc…)
  • Recording materials for when you do contact your insurance company (paper for notes, audio recording devices) you want to keep a log of all contact with your insurance company

The damage associated with Irma alone was estimated at over $64 billion. Make sure you’re prepared and hired a qualified lawyer when you’re dealing with an insurance claim.

11 09, 2018

What to Do If You Have Had Fire or Tree Damage

By |2018-09-11T12:08:35-04:00September 11th, 2018|Categories: Fire Damage Law, Tree Damage Law|Tags: , , , |

Owning a home is a responsibility. There are so many things to take care of and to pay attention to. Every homeowner needs to be concerned about the damage that can happen to their home and what they can do about it.

Fire or Tree Damage Can Happen To A Home Easily

For many people, fire or tree damage happens and is dreaded. It can be caused by a storm or other type of occurrence or by neglect. Homeowners will want to check the fire or tree damage as soon as something happens. It will be a good idea for them to contact an expert so that they understand what they need to do in order to get their home back in order. For many people, an attorney will be needed.

Finding A Good Attorney

In order to find a good attorney, many people ask other people for recommendations. They ask their friends, family, and co-workers who they have used in the past. This is because they need to be able to trust someone enough to tell them information about their home.

Know Your Rights When You Have A Problem With Your Home

It is very important that you know your rights when you are searching for a lawyer to help you with problems with your home. When you know your rights, you will be able to enlist the help of a lawyer that will give you the proper information that is needed to get your home back in order.

Other Ways To Locate A Good Lawyer To Help You

If you need to find a lawyer and the people that you know do not know of one, you can do a search on the Internet. Try to find one that is close in proximity to either your home or work. You will want them to be available when you need them.

Trusting The Lawyer Is Important

When you first have a consultation with the lawyer, you will want to make sure that you can trust them. Be sure that you have a good rapport with the lawyer so that you can be as honest as possible when you are dealing with them. In most cases, the consultation phase is free. Bring along photographs of the damage that was caused to your property so that the lawyer can have the information to keep in your file.

How Can The Lawyer Be Of Help?

Depending on what caused the damage to your home, the lawyer will be able to get you the money that is necessary to fix the problems. This may include dealing with your home insurance company. Be sure to give the lawyer all of the information from your home insurance policy. The lawyer will be able to discuss specific points with the insurance company to get you the money that is needed in order to repair the damages.

How Much Will The Lawyer Cost?

This will all depend on the lawyer that you choose. During the consultation phase, you will receive the information that you need in order to understand how much you will need to pay them. You will also receive information on what means of payment they will take for their service. In most cases, they will accept cash, checks and credit cards.

How Long Will The Process Take?

The process will take more time depending on how much damage there is to your home or property. Be prepared for it to take a while. Have several ways for you to get in touch with your lawyer. A cell phone number is a great way to be able to reach them when you need to. Texting is easy for many people to do, and you will be able to contact your lawyer quickly when you need to.

After The Case Is Completed

You will want to keep your lawyer’s information in case you need them again in the future. They will be extremely beneficial to you.

Since you are the owner of your home, make sure that you are making the time to do the upkeep that is necessary. When you do this, you can feel proud of the place that you live in. Don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer if you find that your house or property has been damaged. They can help you in so many ways.