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18 08, 2022

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. Has 8 Lawyers Recognized by Best Lawyers®

By |2022-08-18T17:24:52-04:00August 18th, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Congratulations to Caitlin C. Szematowicz, Andrew R. Pardun, Aubrey O. Dicus, Jr., Bruce Marger, Howard P. Ross, Jonathon Douglas, Robert Kapusta, Jr., and Sean K. McQuaid for being recognized among The Best Lawyers in America®.

Each attorney has been chosen for professional excellence in the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® for work in specialized areas. Earning this title is one of the highest honors an attorney can earn.

The Best Lawyers in America®, “The Best at What We Do”

Best Lawyers is a company founded on the principle that “the best lawyers know who the best lawyers are.” They have broadcasted respected peer-review publications in the legal field for over four decades.

To be recognized by Best Lawyers is one of the most highly esteemed and widely regarded titles by clients and professionals in the legal community. The publications of Best Lawyers are known for their reliable and unbiased legal recommendations.

They compile a list of the most outstanding lawyers through a rigorous peer-review survey process, which includes tens of thousands of confidential evaluations from lawyers—only the top lawyers who receive enough votes and approval of Best Lawyers to earn this acclaimed title.

Furthermore, Best Lawyers in America® is a company proudly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. They actively focus on creating and running a company that advocates for cultural programs and diversity.

Howard P. Ross

Howard P. Ross is recognized in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers for his practice in Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Litigation, Commercial Litigation, and Commercial Transactions / UCC Law. He has also been recognized as “Lawyer of the Year” for his work in Corporate Law.

Howard is a respected member of the Florida Bar, with over 50 years of membership. In addition, he’s a member of the American Bar Association.

Howard is a legal expert dedicated to professional excellence in Business Litigation and Civil Litigation. He’s devoted his career to a broad range of business litigation and business transaction law, including:

  • Business Structures
  • Business Disputes
  • Contracts and Other Agreements
  • Real Estate Matters
  • Commercial Title Insurance
  • Residential Title Insurance

Thanks to Howard’s extensive experience, he can quickly and effectively analyze complex litigation and transactional/relationship matters. Another unique strength is his ability to determine the course of action that is in the client’s best interests. He is known for his strategic work in the transactional/relationship area because he is sensitive to preventive law measures. With his understanding of planning and avoiding future disputes, he can create resolutions and make future disputes less difficult and stressful.

Howard is Board Certified in Business Litigation Law and in Civil Trial Law. In addition, Howard is a former arbitrator and former member of the American Arbitration Association’s National Commercial Roster of Neutrals. Howard is a member of The Large, Complex Commercial Case Panel and the M&A and Joint Venture Panel.

In addition to achieving the Best Lawyers in America Award, Howard is recognized as a Florida Super Lawyer, has a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent rating, and is a Recipient of the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. He’s also achieved the following awards: Martindale-Hubbell Top Rated Lawyer in Real Estate Law, Lawyers of Distinction, America’s Most Honored Professionals, and has an AVVO 10 rating.

Sean K. McQuaid

Sean K. McQuaid is recognized in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers for his practice of Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Litigation.

Sean McQuaid is currently the President of Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. He practices personal injury, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, wrongful death, and criminal law.

Sean was also the President of the St. Petersburg Bar Association for 2020-2021.

Since joining the firm in 2000, he has been the fastest rising lawyer in the firm’s history. Sean joined the firm as an associate in 2000, became a shareholder in 2006, and became a named partner in 2013. Now, he is the President of the firm.

His personal injury practice is one of the top in the Tampa Bay area. He consistently receives 5-star reviews from satisfied clients who speak highly of his work.

Sean is a member of the Florida Bar, the Bar of the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the St.Petersburg Bar Association, the Clearwater Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the Pinellas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and various other legal associations.

Sean began his legal studies at Stetson University College of Law in 1997, graduating with his Juris Doctor and Masters in Business Administration degrees. During law school, he was a member of the Moot Court Board and competed across the country.

Sean also attended Princeton University from 1993-1997, where he was a 4-year varsity letterman and captain of the Princeton University Baseball Team.

Sean’s diverse experiences as a leader and an athlete contribute to his straightforward and competitive approach to practicing law. He is committed to excellence and determined to win.

Aubrey O. Dicus, Jr.

Aubrey O. Dicus, Jr. is recognized in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers for his practice in Commercial Litigation, White-Collar Criminal Defense, Defendants Personal Injury Litigation, and Plaintiffs Personal Injury Litigation. He is the former President of Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Aubrey graduated from Emory University with a degree in Economics and attended Stetson Law School from 1971-1974. Afterward, he partnered with Anthony S. Battaglia and Howard P. Ross.

His almost 50 years of litigation experience has involved everything from personal injury and criminal defense to civil and commercial litigation. Aubrey has represented clients and won multi-million dollar claims. In addition, he’s represented government agencies, including the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department.

Best Lawyers in America is just one of many accolades Aubrey has earned. He’s also been a Florida Super Lawyer for several years and maintains a Martindale-Hubbell AV preeminent highest rating.

In addition to his myriad of awards and honors, he is highly respected for his involvement and commitment to the local legal community. He is a previous President of the St. Petersburg Bar Association and former President of the Pinellas County Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association. He also served as a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Aubrey also served as the Master of the Bench with the American Inns of Court, Pinellas County Chapter, and Barney Masterson Inn of Court. Furthermore, he received “The Barney” for his professionalism, civility, ethics, and legal excellence.

Aubrey is dedicated not only to serving in the legal field but to his local community as well. In addition to all of his professional and community legal services, Aubrey also has:

  • served on the Stetson Law School Advisory Council
  • served as President of the Stetson Alumni Association
  • been Member of the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce
  • Was appointed as the Governor’s Representative on the Community Development Corporation, Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc.
  • served on the Pinellas Emergency Mental Health Services Advisory Board and Finance Committee

Jonathon Douglas

Jonathon Douglas is recognized in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers for his practice in Insurance Law, Insurance Litigation, and Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Litigation.

Jonathon prioritizes fighting for the rights of his clients. He’s distinguished for his compassionate approach to all his clients and knows their recovery and well-being are paramount.

Jonathon attended the University of Florida, earning his BA and BS, both with honors. He then went on to attend Stetson University College of Law. There, Jonathon learned and practiced the art of trial advocacy. He also clerked for the Honorable Shawn Crane and interned at the State Attorney’s Office and Public Defender’s Office during his time at Stetson.

Following his graduation, Jonathan went on to work as Assistant Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial Circuit. Then he moved on to defending the rights of the accused in State and Federal Courts as an associate with the Hebert Law Group. From there, he worked as a Civil Trial Litigator and partner with Goodis, Thompson & Miller representing some of the largest insurers in Florida.

Jonathon uses his inside knowledge of insurance practices to help policyholders hold insurance companies accountable. He knows how to win a successful insurance claim.

Caitlin Szematowicz

Caitlin Szematowicz is a Partner at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. She has been practicing Civil & Commercial Litigation, Appeals, and Employment Law with the firm since August 2012.

She is not only distinguished for her professional excellence but also known for her active involvement in the legal community. The Best Lawyers in America® is just one of Caitlin’s many accolades. She has also been recognized as a “Rising Star” Florida Super Lawyer for five consecutive years (2018-2022) and was named Florida Trend Legal Elite in 2022.

While she dedicates her career work to the service of others, Caitlin has successfully built an impressive extracurricular portfolio involving numerous leadership positions. She currently serves as the Past President of the Barney Masterson American Inn of Court. In addition, Caitlin has previously served as the President of the St. Petersburg Bar Foundation and Past President of the Pinellas County Trial Lawyers Association. She was also a member of the Board of Trustees for the St. Petersburg Bar Foundation for six years.

Caitlin has served on the St. Petersburg Bar Foundation’s annual professionalism seminar committee and is appointed to the Sixth Judicial Circuit’s Professionalism Committee. She was also selected twice as a speaker for the Florida Bar Practicing with Professionalism CLE.

Her peers chose her as a recipient of the Barney Masterson American Inn of Court’s Thomas E. Penick, Jr. “The Rock” Award for her exceptional service to the community.

Caitlin graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in May 2012. Before that, she graduated Cum Laude from the University of Tampa’s Honors Program in 2008.

Caitlin graduated from law school with Pro Bono and Criminal Justice certificates. She was also a notable research associate with the Florida Innocence Commission, contributing significant research work. As such, she was recognized for her outstanding research contributions to the Florida Innocence Commission’s Final Report to the Supreme Court of Florida.

During her school years, she worked as an appellate law clerk for a firm in Washington, DC. She also was an extern at the US Attorney’s Office and a Certified Legal Intern at the State Attorney’s Office.

Andrew R. Pardun

Andrew R. Pardun was recognized in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers for Real Estate Law.

He is currently a partner with the firm. He specializes in the following areas: Commercial & Residential Title Insurance, Commercial and Residential Real Estate Closings, and Business Law.

Andrew received his Juris Doctorate Degree at Stetson University College of Law and his MBA with honors. He completed his MBA with a perfect 4.0 GPA and was a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honors Society.

In addition, Andrew completed his Master of Laws Degree in Taxation at Villanova University. Before that, he attended the University of South Florida for his undergraduate studies, majoring in Finance. He also served as the President of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and Vice President of the Interfraternity Council.

Andrew’s has been recognized him in the legal community with a perfect 10/10 ranking from AVVO. He’s also a Super Lawyer’s Rising Star, one of the most distinct honors available to Florida attorneys.

Andrew is comfortable in leadership positions and has continuously held them throughout his life. After college, Andrew gained experience working in the financial services industry and co-owned a real estate investment firm in Tampa.

Andrew is the current Treasurer of the St. Petersburg Bar Association. He has also served as the Chairman of the Real Property Section of the St. Petersburg Bar Association.

Mayor Rick Kriseman recently appointed Andrew to the City of St. Petersburg’s Nuisance Abatement Board. He is also an active member of the Attorneys’ Title Fund, Pinellas Realtors Organization, and The Barney Masterson’s American Inn of Court.

Bruce Marger

Bruce Marger is recognized in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers for his practice in Litigation and Practice in Trusts and Estates.

Bruce is also experienced and practices in the following fields: estate planning, estate and gift tax planning, income tax planning for estates and trusts, probate and trust administration, and real property law, as well as probate and trust litigation and planning related to qualified plan/IRA distributions.

After graduating from Miami Senior High, he completed his higher education studies at the University of North Carolina and Harvard Law School. Bruce double-majored in Political Science and Accounting. While at UNC, he was also chair of the Debate Council and a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Beta Gamma Sigma. Then, while at Harvard, he concentrated his studies on tax and estate planning.

He is currently an active member of the Florida Bar. In addition, he serves as Chair of the Judicial Poll Committee and Chair of the Real property, Probate, and Trust Law Section. He also contributed to developing the board certification in Wills, Trust and Estates law. Furthermore, Bruce is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC).

A respected veteran, Bruce served in the US Air Force and Air Force Reserves for 15 years before practicing law. He earned a rank as a Major before leaving the service to practice law full-time. He is married to his college sweetheart, Mary Ann, and they have three children.

Robert Kapusta, Jr.

Robert Kapusta, Jr. is recognized in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers for his practice in Real Estate Law.

Robert’s expertise in Real Estate Law is varied and extensive; he practices in the following areas: Mergers and Acquisitions, Tax and Estate Planning, and Business and Corporate Law.

Prior to practicing with Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., Robert practiced with Fisher & Sauls. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law, and Master of Laws (LLM) degree in taxation from the University of Florida College of Law.

Robert is also a Certified Public Accountant and is admitted to practice in all Florida courts.

While not practicing law, Robert volunteers his time and talents to local community organizations. He is passionate about helping local businesses grow. As such, he also helps foster the growth of economic vitality, arts education and appreciation, and capital school improvements.

Additionally, Robert dedicates himself to expanding educational programming opportunities in St. Petersburg. He does so through various leadership positions and civic activities. Aside from his awards as an outstanding legal professional, he’s also won the following awards:

  • H. Bernice (“Bernie”) Lodge Lay Person of the Year Award for 2008-2009 from the St. Petersburg Kiwanis Club
  • “Hero Among Us” award in 2015 from the St. Petersburg Bar Foundation in recognition of his tireless community service

Elite Attorneys, Helping Clients in Need

The firm would like to congratulate all 8 attorneys on achieving The Best Lawyers in America® award. This would not have been without such wonderful and loyal clients. The goal of each of our lawyers is to put the client’s best interest first.

2 08, 2022

10 Signs That Your Insurer Undervalued Your Property Damage Claim

By |2022-08-02T08:53:00-04:00August 2nd, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: , , |

An undervalued or underpaid property damage claim can force you to pay the remaining repair bills yourself, which could be thousands of dollars.

Insurance companies are notorious for doing everything they can to minimize their outgoing costs. Remember – they’re for-profit and care more about their finances than your stress levels or bank balance.

But that doesn’t mean you have to accept their low-ball offers. You should, as a paying customer, receive the maximum possible settlement.

Here are the top red flags that your insurer has undervalued your property damage claim:

How to Know If Your Insurer Has Undervalued Your Property Damage Claim

1. Their Estimate Seems Too Low

If you feel that the estimate is too low, trust your gut and intuition. More often than not, if you suspect it’s too low, then it probably is.

A good way to be sure is to gather as much evidence and information about the damage from day one. Gather receipts and independent quotes to repair the damage.

If the insurance company’s estimate doesn’t come close to yours, they may have been acting in bad faith or made careless errors. In which case, it’s time to act and contact a property damage attorney for swift legal support.

2. The Insurance Adjuster Rushed the Property Inspection

Soon after you open your claim, an insurance adjuster will visit the property to assess the damage and determine what needs repairing or replacing. Sometimes, these adjusters will rush their job.

Whether they’re careless or have bad faith intentions, it can leave you with a lower settlement offer than you need.

If you experience an adjuster quickly walking around the property without paying attention to the details, then alarm bells should be ringing.

3. Your Insurance Claim Is Being Processed Quicker Than Expected

While everyone wants quick service after a disaster, a big red flag is if things go unusually quickly. For example, you might be given an offer the same day you call them. This might also come in a ‘take it or leave it’ style of offer.

Your settlement should cover the true value of the property damage and nothing less.

4. Damage Was Overlooked

Review the insurance settlement document carefully to ensure all damaged elements are covered under the policy.

If damage has been overlooked in your settlement offer or communications with your insurance company, you need to act.

The insurance adjuster may have made a mistake or acted in bad faith, forcing you to pay out of pocket to repair your property.

5. Part of Your Claim Was Denied

Similarly, if any part of your claim was denied, then your property damage insurance claim may be undervalued.

Denial of claims can come in all sorts of forms (which are mentioned below) and are commonly used to save insurance companies money.

If your property damage claim has been denied or partially denied, it’s not game over. The case can be reopened. Contact a property damage attorney as soon as possible.

6. You’ve Been Offered the Actual Cash Value, Instead of Replacement Costs

Your insurance carrier may also offer to pay the actual cash value instead of the full cost required to replace or repair the property.

‘Actual cash value’ is what the property or appliance is worth today, not what it will cost to replace or repair it.

7. They Claim You Caused Damage

If your insurance carrier believes or accuses you of causing damage (or failing to mitigate damage), it’s a common sign that they’re cutting out parts of your claim. For example, they may say water damage was because you left a window open – when in reality, you didn’t.

8. Repair Quotes Are Less Than Expected

It’s advised that you receive an independent quote from a contractor for repairs, so you can ensure you’re not getting undervalued by your property damage claims insurer.

If the repair quotes are less than expected, it’s time to call an attorney to avoid covering the remaining bills.

9. You’re Told Not to Contact an Attorney

If you’re warned that you can’t contact an insurance lawyer without voiding your insurance policy, then do the exact opposite!

This threat is nonsense and hints that the insurance company wants to hide its bad-faith tactics. They may be lowering your settlement payment.

10. You’re Told About a Loophole or Lack of Coverage

Another common sign that your insurer has undervalued your property damage claim is when you’ve been told about a lack of coverage or loopholes.

While in Florida, you need to be aware of the difference between flood and water damage, you should be sensitive to any claims that you can’t get coverage for certain areas of the home.

If you do hear this, there’s a good chance you’re being tricked. Carefully review your policy documents and contact an attorney as soon as possible.

What To Do If Your Property Damage Claim Has Been Undervalued?

If your insurer has denied or undervalued your property damage claim, contact a property damage insurance lawyer immediately.

They will aggressively fight on your behalf to get the maximum possible settlement, closing down any tricks or manipulation attempted by the insurer. You deserve a fair settlement and their legal expertise will get it.

If necessary, they will be able to take legal action, but in most cases, the mere presence of a reputable lawyer is enough for the insurance company to wake up and act fairly.

Read related: The 10 Mistakes You Should Never Make When Filing Home Insurance Claims

Florida Property Damage Attorneys

Free Consultations!

If your insurance carrier has undervalued or denied your property damage claim after a disaster, then our Florida property damage attorneys can help.

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.

26 07, 2022

Florida, the Lightning Capital of the United States

By |2022-07-26T12:24:44-04:00July 26th, 2022|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |

As a peninsula surrounded by water, Florida sees weather disturbances every year. Florida’s heat, humidity, and winds create the perfect conditions for thunderstorms.

If you live in Florida, you’re probably well acquainted with the turbulent weather patterns. You’ve probably also witnessed a good amount of lightning. But, hopefully, you’ve never had or will need to deal with lightning damage. However, if you live in Florida, that likelihood is higher than in other states. If your home has been subjected to lightning-related damages, contact a Florida property damage attorney today who can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Florida, the Lightning Capital of the United States

Florida is no stranger to turbulent weather patterns as a state that regularly experiences hurricanes and tropical storms.

Lightning is an incredibly frightening force of nature that Florida is all too familiar with. It can cause fires and power surges, leading to extensive property damage.

Florida sees so much lightning annually that the National Weather Service has given it the distinction of “lightning capital of the US.” In the past month alone, there have been numerous lightning-produced house fires, one in Tampa and another one in Valrico, to name a few.

The area between Orlando and Tampa is a high-risk zone with the highest lightning strike rate in Central Florida. If you live in this area, you are probably familiar with regular thunderstorms throughout the year.

The high frequency of lightning in Central Florida can be attributed to its geographic location and highland climate, compared to lower temperatures on both sides of the peninsula.

As the lightning capital, Florida is the leading state for lightning-related property damage claims. While lightning damage may seem like a freak accident with a low probability, you’d be surprised how common they are in Florida. In fact, lightning strikes cause about $400 million in damage annually in the US.

Lightning Damage Statistics in Florida and the US

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), Florida is the top state in the nation for lightning insurance losses. Here are some additional statistics:

  • In 2021, there were 5,339 lightning damage claims in Florida
  • The total value of claims in 2021 amounted to $88.3 million
  • The average cost per claim in 2021 was $16,552

Some national statistics on lightning-related damage claims in the US:

  • While 2020 was the fourth consecutive year with a decrease in the number of lightning damage claims in the country, the average cost of claims more than doubled since 2017
  • Lightning-related claims dropped 6.9% from 2019 to 2020, but the value of the claims increased by 124.6% ($920.1 million in 2019 to $2.1 billion in 2020)
  • While Florida takes the lead with the highest count of annual claims, California usually has the highest average cost per claim due to the severity of destruction from lightning-produced fires.
  • The average cost per claim in 2021 for California was about $154,574.

What Types of Damage Can Lightning Cause?

There is an average of $451 million in direct property damage caused yearly by lightning. The damage that results from lightning can be much more damaging than homeowners realize.

When lightning strikes, it can cause electrical surges that result in deadly fires and severe damage. It can damage appliances, electronics, computers, phone systems, electrical fixtures, air conditioning systems, and the entire electrical foundation of a home.

If lighting hits the inner parts of the walls in a house, it can cause a surge in the electrical circuits, which would cause a house fire. In addition, lightning can potentially ruin your home’s plumbing system. If lightning hits any of your plumbing, it can cause leaks and water damage.

Even lightning that does not directly strike your home but hits the ground can cause issues for your home. The shock waves created by lightning can ruin the foundation of your house.

Steps To Take After Your House Gets Damaged By Lightning

If you want to file a property insurance claim after your house gets struck by lightning, you’ll need to follow a few crucial steps.

First, take pictures and note all damages to your property. Next, contact your insurance company and make a claim. Create a thorough list of all damaged items and property. Then, call your local fire department as soon as possible, and note the date and time you called them. The next step is to contact a professional electrician or plumber to inspect your house and document the damage caused by lightning.

Sometimes insurance companies deny claims because homeowners do not provide sufficient evidence to prove that lightning caused the damage. That’s why it’s vital to take pictures of all damage from lightning, like holes or asphalt.

Lastly, the most critical step will be to get a Florida property damage attorney who can guide you through the claims process and help protect your legal rights as a homeowner.

How Long Do I Have To Make a Lightning Damage Claim?

Florida’s statutes allow homeowners to file a damage lawsuit five years after the lightning strikes. However, bear in mind that insurance companies require policyholders to file a claim much sooner, usually within 60 days of the incident.

Once you submit an insurance claim, the insurance company will investigate your claim and respond. In addition, they will probably offer you a settlement to compensate you for repairs and other damages you may have incurred.

Florida Property Damage Claim Attorneys

Sadly, Florida homes suffer the consequences of natural disasters like hurricanes and lightning every year. When that happens, you need an experienced property damage attorney who will fight on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve. Furthermore, having strong litigators who can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf means you can focus on repairing your home.

Contact an experienced Florida property damage attorney today for a free consultation, or call (727) 381-2300.

7 06, 2022

10 Must-Know Home Insurance Claim Adjuster Secret Tactics

By |2022-06-07T13:52:43-04:00June 7th, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: , , |

Every homeowner must know the common home insurance claim adjuster’s secret tactics. Insurance companies are for-profit and care far more about saving money than helping their customers out.

These tactics are completely unfair but go unnoticed due to desperate home insurance claimants. Sadly, studies show these tactics help boost insurance companies’ profits every year.

By becoming aware of these common home insurance claim adjuster secret tactics, you can avoid manipulation and gain the maximum possible settlement for your home insurance claim.

Common Home Insurance Claim Adjuster Secret Tactics

Secret Tactic 1: Tricking You to Admit Fault

Throughout the industry, insurance companies try to trick claimants into admitting fault. But by admitting fault, or partial fault, your claim can be worth significantly less.

In property damage claims, the common secret tactic is to claim you either:

For example, they might say that you didn’t lock your windows, which caused flooding during a storm, or that your appliances were damaged long before a fire.

If you’re unaware of these tactics, it’s easy to get tricked into admitting fault. It can happen so easily, from a question such as “Were your windows locked?”

In some cases, you might even experience ‘gaslighting’. Which is where they’ll trick you into thinking you were the cause.

We know it’s difficult if you’re in a vulnerable position. Insurance claims adjusters use tricky questions to shift the blame. Don’t give in easily. They’re not your friends.

Secret Tactic 2: Delaying

Your insurance claims adjuster is likely to try delaying tactics. They’ll know from experience that most people get tired of delays when they’re desperate for money and repairs.

From not calling you back or answering emails, they’ll do whatever they can to push you into accepting a low-ball offer.

Don’t give in. If you experience delaying tactics, then you’re a victim of bad faith and can call a property damage attorney.

Secret Tactic 3: False Deadlines

In their goal to get you to accept a low-ball settlement offer, insurance agents will tell you that you have until a specified date to accept the offer or leave empty-handed.

The truth is, this is a scare tactic. It’s a made-up deadline that you do not have to accept. In reality, you always have a chance to negotiate a better settlement offer and are not obliged to accept their low-ball offer before a deadline.

If this does happen to you and you’re afraid, you can contact a property damage attorney who will quickly call the insurance company and set things straight.

Secret Tactic 4: Policy Loopholes

Insurance policy documents are usually long and complicated. That’s intentional.

Many of our clients say that their insurers state the property damage isn’t covered in the insurance coverage. The reason given is usually some technical loophole.

More often than not, this is a lie. You’re their customer and you paid for this policy.

Secret Tactic 5: Requesting Unnecessary Documentation

Insurance adjusters require various documents, such as receipts, photo evidence, bills and reports. But a common insurance adjuster tactic is to ask for documents that aren’t needed because they know you don’t have them.

For example, you might get asked to provide a repair or construction bill from ten years before the property damage event. This is just another trick to wear you down to accept a low settlement offer.

Secret Tactic 6: Undervaluing Your Claim

When you get a low-ball offer, it’s probably not because you over-estimated damages. It’s more likely because insurance adjusters don’t want to pay you more and they want to wear you out.

The most common way this occurs is by claiming repairs can be completed for far less than the real price.

Do not give in. If you’re unhappy with the settlement offer, you can receive an independent inspection of the property and get contractor quotes. These can be used to prove that the claim has been underpaid or undervalued.

Property damage attorneys are of great use in these situations. They have the resources to prove the real costs of the damage so you don’t end up out of pocket later down the line.

Secret Tactic 7: Advising You Not to Use an Attorney

Insurance companies are scared of attorneys because they know that they’ll reveal their tactics as bad faith behavior.

Your insurance agent may try to tell you that hiring an attorney is either unnecessary, a contract violation or a waste of money. None of this is true.

Using an attorney almost always produces a higher settlement, even after deducting attorney fees.

They can fight aggressively on your behalf through the claims process to avoid attorneys’ manipulation tactics and bring you the maximum possible settlement.

Secret Tactic 8: Acting Like They Care

Be warned of any overly friendly insurance adjuster. They’re not your friend; they work for an insurance company.

While it’s always appreciated that you’re treated with respect and sympathy, the red flags come when they try to ‘befriend’ you. They use this approach to get your guard down, so they can use information against you.

It’s not uncommon for adjusters to be paid bonuses for low settlements, and you’re just another opportunity.

Secret Tactic 9: False Promises Made by Insurance Companies

A home insurance claims adjuster might make promises for your benefit that, in reality, are a conflict of interest. Their priority is always the insurance company, not you!

They might, for example, say they’ll pay for a particular type of repair work and then later tell you that it was ‘excessive’ so it won’t be covered.

Secret Tactic 10: Painful Compensation Negotiations

Never forget that you can negotiate with an insurance company for a property damage settlement offer. But be warned, they will make it as difficult as possible.

They won’t just give you the figure you want at the first request, or the second. This is going to take some work, patience and nerve.

It is highly advised that you hire a property damage attorney, as they will negotiate on your behalf. The mere presence of a reputable attorney can be enough to make an insurance company’s negotiations go far, far quicker and result in a fair settlement.

Contact a Florida Homeowners Insurance Claim Attorney Today

Free Consultations!

If you need to make a property damage claim, negotiate or tackle an unfair insurance claim adjuster, our Florida property damage attorneys can help.

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 insurance disputes.

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

17 05, 2022

How Do I Get the Most Out of My Homeowner’s Insurance Claim?

By |2022-05-17T12:46:48-04:00May 17th, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Did you know that insurance companies will do everything in their power to minimize your homeowner’s insurance claim? Undervalued claims will leave you out of pocket if you need to make further repairs. As their customer, you deserve to receive the maximum possible payment.

Whether your home has been damaged by a hurricane, a flood, fire or any other disaster, you must act appropriately. Sadly, you can’t just leave it to your insurer. They’ll take advantage of your backseat approach and undervalue your claim.

As property damage attorneys, we’ve seen it all. Here are our top tips for optimizing your homeowner’s insurance claim:

Tips for Optimizing Your Homeowner’s Insurance Claim

Contact a Property Damage Attorney

All of the steps below are advised, but you can make your homeowner’s claim process much easier and stronger by working with a property damage attorney.

A property damage attorney tackles insurance companies and their tricks every day. They don’t fall for manipulation and know how to negotiate the best settlement offer.

They’ll also remove the stress you’re likely facing by handling all communications, from paperwork to phone calls.

If you run into any disputes with your insurer, they’ll also take the appropriate action. Some common disputes homeowners face with their own insurance companies are:

  • Undervalued Claims
  • Denied Claims
  • Delaying tactics
  • Manipulation or bullying tactics
  • Incorrect policy coverage
  • No or slow responses
  • You’re blamed for the damage
  • They claim the damage already existed.

Retain Evidence

In every homeowners insurance claim, evidence is key. Take pictures. When you’re done, take more.

Take all these photos before you clean the property or make temporary repairs.

There’s no such thing as too much detail here. From cracks in the floor to bowing ceilings and smoke stains, don’t leave anything undocumented.

You should also record detailed notes about everything you remember happening – such as when the disaster started, how long it lasted and what you heard or saw.

If possible, take notes from neighbors, witnesses and fire teams.

Finally, keep all receipts. If it’s safe to do so, that includes the receipts for your appliances. But it also includes repair bills and temporary accommodation expenses.

Remember, that before you make repairs related to mitigation or tear out, many homeowners policies require that they conduct an inspection. If you begin tear out or mitigation work and do not allow the insurance company to inspect before the work begins or tear out of the damaged items occurs, you may be subject to reduced coverage limits. One more reason to consult with a homeowners insurance attorney for your property damage claim.

Identify your Damages

You should first list everything that the incident has damaged and that needs replacing or repairing (such as appliances, furniture and electronics). As it relates to personal property, or “contents”, your list should note the date you purchased the item and the purchase price. Try to note model numbers.

Most homeowners insurance claims however fall under Coverage A, or damage to the actual home or commercial property. Be sure to document damages to your home or commercial property. For example, buckling floors after a water leak, or damaged drywall from water instruction after a windstorm. Being able to accurately show the damage will be critical in building a strong homeowners insurance claim.

Properly File Your Claim

Once you’ve completed the steps above, it’s time to file. Don’t delay. You should file your claim immediately to avoid the insurance company claiming that the delay somehow prevents coverage.

Before making a claim, read your policy to understand your coverage in detail.

Insurance adjusters regularly take advantage of homeowners who don’t know what they’re entitled to. But if you know what the policy covers, you reduce that risk.

It’s also essential that you know all the deadlines and contractual obligations. If you don’t, you could risk causing a delay in the process.

During the call, never accept a low-ball offer. This is not the time to accept an offer, as you haven’t even had the property professional assessed. It’s ok to negotiate a settlement later.

Make Temporary Repairs

Some damage shouldn’t be ignored. For example, a hole in the roof needs immediate work to avoid the rest of the house being damaged by rain and wind.

If you don’t take these immediate steps to make temporary repairs, the insurer may claim you failed to mitigate the damage – which could see your coverage reduced or denied entirely.

For example, if a broken window isn’t boarded up, you may lose your burglary coverage.

Keep all the receipts of professional repairs or materials you purchased to fix the damage. You will be able to include this in your homeowner’s insurance claim later.

Document All Communications

Ask for the insurance agent’s name and title.

If there are any problems or disputes later in the homeowner’s claim process, then this information could be very helpful. You’ll be able to refer back to the agent who previously spoke to you.

You should keep every email, letter or document you are sent. You should also take notes during your phone calls.

Get Independent Estimates

In some cases, it can feel like the insurance company has given an incorrect estimate. They use their own adjusters, so it’s sadly not rare to hear these stories.

In these cases, it can be wise to get an independent evaluation of your property. If you’re working with a homeowner’s insurance claim attorney, they will likely have the resources to help you gain an independent estimate.

You can then use quotes and estimates to negotiate with your insurance company, arguing that their settlement offer is insufficient for the required repairs.

Review Your Policy Again

Adjusters make mistakes. Sometimes these are intentional; sometimes they’re just errors.

If a claim is rejected because the insurer says you don’t have coverage, then dig out your homeowner’s insurance policy and read the fine print.

If you believe the decision doesn’t fit the policy, don’t give up. It’s time to contact a property damage attorney and solve this mess.

Contact a Florida Homeowners Insurance Claim Attorney Today

Free Consultations!

If you need to make a property damage claim or have been unfairly denied, undervalued or tricked by your insurance carrier, then contact us today.

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 insurance disputes.

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

19 04, 2022

The Hidden Damages of a Fire Loss

By |2022-04-19T13:19:27-04:00April 19th, 2022|Categories: Fire Damage Law|Tags: , , |

Every fire loss is devastating, but there are often significant hidden damages that insurance companies overlook. While hidden damages of fire loss can be hard to detect with a quick survey, they should never be ignored. First, you’ll need to claim it in your property damage claim. And second, if ignored, they can lead to expensive structural issues or health concerns.

In this guide, our property damage attorneys will explain what to look for, how to deal with it and why. Let’s get started:

Common Types of Hidden Damage in Home Fires

Smoke and Soot Damage

Smoke from a fire is black because it contains particles of what’s been burned. This leaves soot throughout the property. Smoke and soot damage should not be left for long as it can cause respiratory issues, skin damage, eye damage, heart attacks and cancer. It can also have lifelong health consequences for young children.

While soot can easily be cleaned from floors, walls and appliances, it should not be a DIY job if there are large quantities. Your home insurance policy should cover the costs of hiring a professional smoke and soot removal team.

Airborne soot is invisible, so you likely won’t know if you’re breathing it in. Plus, the longer it remains, the more damage it can cause to appliances and electronics. The longer it stays, the harder it becomes to remove.

Be sure to photograph all evidence of soot after the fire to include it in your property damage claim.

Signs of smoke and soot damage include:

  • Black stains
  • Smoke smells
  • Stained fabric
  • Paint discoloration
  • Signs of corrosion and rust to metal objects such as jewelry and appliances
  • Floor damage

Water Damage

After fire damage, the next most common property damage is water damage.

The large amounts of water sprayed by the firefighters can cause havoc throughout your property. From structural concerns to electronic damage, there will be lots to repair. Plus, you’ll likely have lost electronic devices, furniture and important documents to the water damage.

You must address these concerns quickly. If left unresolved, the water can seep into the property’s walls and foundations and continue to damage your home. And then comes the mold.

Mold

Mold is a nightmare at the best of times, but after a fire, it can grow rapidly and spread throughout the home.

Black mold is linked to severe respiratory problems, particularly in people, children and the elderly. Even your pets can suffer.

While you can clean up small amounts of mold yourself, you should call a repair team if the mold is substantial. In some cases, walls, joints and trusses might need to be replaced entirely. Large quantities of mold is also dangerous to remove as a DIY job, because you’ll be at risk of breathing in the spores.

Note: Most people cannot make claims for mold alone. But if there is a bigger problem causing the mold, then you can claim on water damage. Read our guide on whether your mold damage may be the signs of a bigger water damage problem here.

Sewage and Water Pipes

Pipes are not all made of heavy-duty metal; many are made of PVC that quickly melts during fires. Pipes can also leak toxic gasses and carbon monoxide, a lethal risk.

Insurance adjusters might overlook damaged water pipes, leaving you with a hefty repair bill in the future. Ensure that you include any evidence of damaged pipes or faulty plumbing in your fire damage property claim.

Important tip: If you believe your plumbing has been damaged from a fire, turn off your water at the main valve. Avoid using the water outlets until the damage has been assessed.

Gas Leaks

Firefighters will aggressively fight through floors, windows and walls if they need to rescue someone or put out the fire. This can result in accidental gas line damage which can cause dangerous gas leaks.

If you smell a gas leak, evacuate your home to a safe distance and call 911 immediately.

Gas leaks can result in large, lethal explosions.

You can read the Red Cross guide to dealing with dangerous homes and gas leaks after fires here.

Electrical Damage

Electrical damage is another common hidden damage in a fire loss. As the fire spreads through the home, it can destroy junction boxes, leave live hanging wires and melt components. After a fire, you should immediately have the electricity shut off by contacting your power provider.

You may not be able to see the damage unless you know what you’re looking for, but the risks of leaving electrical damage unresolved can be catastrophic. Sparks from damaged wires can trigger another fire.

Electrical repairs should be covered in your home insurance policy. An experienced inspector should check all the wiring in the home to ensure safety. Risks are not worth taking. Live wires can be fatal.

Appliance Damage

Appliances and electronic devices can overheat or melt internally, causing them to become unusable or dangerous. These defects are not often noticeable at first. Ensure you take photos of any potentially damaged appliances after the fire.

Damaged HVAC systems are also a common hidden damage in a fire loss. Ventilation and heating systems can get covered in smoke and soot, which if not cleaned or replaced will result in your entire property being fed toxic gasses, particles and residues.

You might not notice this until months later when the appropriate season arrives to turn the HVAC on. So making an inspection in advance for damage is highly advised.

Do I Need an Attorney for a Fire Damage Claim?

Insurance companies love undervaluing their customers’ claims. They’ll use every possible trick and excuse to make their outgoing costs as low as possible.

As you can see, fire loss can result in various hidden damages. If these are shown to the insurance company, they’ll likely completely ignore that you need financial help to clean up your property.

By working with a property damage attorney, you can ensure you get the insurance payment you deserve.

An attorney will not get manipulated or bullied by the insurance company and, if needed, will hire an independent property inspector and other specialists to reveal the true cost of your fire loss.

Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Fire Damage Claims

Free Consultations!

If your property has suffered hidden damages from fire loss, then contact our Florida property damage attorney today.

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 01, 2022

Can You Make a Tornado Insurance Claim in Florida?

By |2022-01-05T15:37:46-05:00January 5th, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: , , |

If your property or home has suffered damage from a tornado, we can help you make a tornado insurance claim. Doing so may help you rebuild your home and replace lost items or appliances.

Tornadoes in Florida

Although hurricanes make the headlines in Florida, tornadoes are extremely common, albeit far less severe.

While tornadoes plague the Midwest, Florida has more tornadoes per unit area, but they’re far weaker – at around EF0 or EF1 intensity.

Nevertheless, if a tornado works its way through your street, then it’s likely to cause significant property damage.

South West Florida has recently seen tornadoes cause homes torn apart, trees falling on cars, pool cages smashed and eye-watering property damage bills.

Fear not, twisters are just as valid as hurricanes so yes – you can make a Florida tornado insurance claim.

Here’s how:

How to Make a Florida Tornado Damage Claim:

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tornado Insurance Claims?

Natural disasters like hurricanes, storms, earthquakes and tornadoes cannot be stopped and tend to be covered by homeowners insurance.

However, it should be noted that flood damage (that is, water damage caused by storms and natural disasters) is not usually included in a typical homeowners insurance policy and must be purchased separately.

Click here to see our blog on Flood Damage vs Water Damage.

For example, if your home sustained roof damage from a tornado, your policy would likely cover the costs of repair, but it wouldn’t for the flooding that occurred as a result unless you have separate flood damage coverage.

Homeowners insurance will also likely reimburse any expenses if you cannot safely live in your home due to tornado damage.

Undervalued Claims

Sadly, having coverage doesn’t guarantee your insurance company will hand over a check easily, or with the figure you need on it.

Insurance companies are for-profit. They value their losses more than whether you get enough money.

People making tornado insurance claims in Florida are regularly undervalued. Which is a huge problem when trying to repair or rebuild your home and replace your belongings.

Speak to a Florida Tornado Damage Attorney

Fear not, we can help. As experienced Florida property damage attorneys, we regularly fight on behalf of homeowners to get the money they deserve.

Resolving Undervalued or Denied Claims

When you pay for your insurance, you expect to be protected in these scenarios. If you’ve been undervalued or denied in your claim, we can handle the communication on your behalf.

By presenting the evidence and not falling for their manipulation and tricks, we will bring you the results you deserve.

With first-hand experience of the insurance industry, our Florida property damage attorney team is respected by insurers which will also significantly help as they know we’re not going to be bullied.

Disagreements of Policy Coverage

In many cases, insurance companies try to trick homeowners into misunderstandings about their policy coverage.

For example, they’ll say they’ll fix a portion of your roof but not the entire roof.

In these scenarios, our Florida tornado insurance claim attorneys can help review your policy and handle all communications with the insurance company on your behalf.

Disagreements over Damage

Insurers may also claim the damage is less than you think. They might even say the damage already existed.

Our Florida tornado insurance claim attorneys will ensure the truth is respected and that the tornado damage is covered and not dismissed.

‘Bad Faith’ Insurers

If an insurance company unfairly denies, underpays, delays or tricks you it is called acting in ‘bad faith’.

In these scenarios, our Florida tornado insurance claim attorneys will protect your rights and if necessary file a lawsuit.

What If I’ve Already Made a Florida Tornado Insurance Claim?

If you’ve previously submitted a Florida tornado insurance claim then we can still help. Never accept a low ball offer, as we can step in and ensure all the damage is correctly documented and that the true valuation of your damage and repair cost is met.

How to Prepare for a Florida Tornado Damage Claim?

If your home or business has been damaged due to a tornado, then you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible to file the claim. However, it is always advised that you speak to a Florida property damage attorney first.

You may also have the urge to clean up your property immediately, but this may not be the best idea. An insurance company representative will assess the damage to determine how much they need to pay you, so don’t fix the evidence before that.

Ensure you take pictures of all damage before moving or salvaging anything. Keep notes, receipts, inventory and any evidence that could support your claim.

Florida Tornado Facts:

When is Florida’s Tornado Season?

Tornadoes in Florida form in different ways throughout the year. Most form in the spring or summer months as the strong sea breezes and tropical cyclones collide.

However, John Allen, an associate professor of meteorology at Central Michigan University, says:

“In North Florida, up towards Tallahassee, you can see high-end tornadoes with some regularity, but the further south you go, the less of a chance there is. You don’t have anything to worry about if you’re in Miami.

“You may not get the really high-end tornadoes, but Florida is susceptible to getting a large number of tornadoes up to EF2 intensity along with tropical system and that’s more than enough to kill someone or cause significant damage.”

How Many Tornadoes Are There in Florida Each Year?

  • Florida has an annual average of 66 tornadoes.
  • Florida has the third-highest number of annual tornadoes in the U.S.
  • An average of 1,253 tornadoes occur in the U.S. every year.

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Where Can I See Tornado Warnings?

Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Tornado Damage

Free Consultations!

If your property has suffered damage from a tornado or storm, contact us today to assist with your Florida tornado insurance claim.

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.

14 11, 2021

What Is Covered In Hurricane Damage Claims?

By |2021-11-14T13:54:31-05:00November 14th, 2021|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

If your home has been damaged in a hurricane, you might be wondering what is covered in hurricane damage claims?

Florida has already seen four major hurricanes, two hurricanes and various tropical and subtropical storms in 2021 – leaving many homeowners desperate for insurance payments that can help them rebuild their homes.

It should be noted that your hurricane insurance policy may be very different to your neighbors, making it difficult to give a generic amount of compensation you might expect from a hurricane damage claim.

However, most hurricane damage policies are consistent and will cover the following areas of damage:

Types of Damage Covered in Hurricane Damage Claims

Hurricane Damage Is Not Covered in Basic Homeowner’s Policies

First up, it’s important to know that for most Florida residents, hurricane damage will not be covered by basic homeowner’s policies.

You will need to purchase a separate hurricane insurance policy to make hurricane damage claims. Homeowners’ insurance usually only covers water damage from normal rain showers.

Flood Damages Are Not Covered by Hurricane Policies

Many people make the mistake of assuming their hurricane policy will protect them against flooding. Sadly, that is not the case.

A separate flood insurance policy is required to cover any flood damage, even if a category 3 hurricane causes it. In recent years, many homes have been effectively destroyed due to floods, yet the owners were left helpless as they didn’t buy a separate flood insurance policy.

Note that in most cases, adding flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period. It’s always wise to add it right away and be proactive rather than reactive.

Wind Damage to Your Home

Wind damage is usually covered in hurricane damage claims. Hurricane winds can vary from between 74-157 mph, causing violent damage to homes in a matter of minutes.

Roofs, windows and structures are often hit hard, but there have even been cases where homes are ripped off their foundations entirely.

Emergency Repairs to Prevent Further Damage

If wind damage does cause serious damage, then emergency repairs may be required to prevent it from becoming worse. For example, if there is a large hole in the roof or broken windows, then repairs may prevent flooding and further wind damage.

Debris Removal

Hurricanes can cause tiles to fall into the home, tree branches to smash through windows and countless other types of debris to be picked up and land on your property.

Hurricane damage claims can allow you to get professional debris removal when the debris has been caused by hurricane winds.

Replacement of the Damaged Property

If your home has been significantly damaged, your hurricane damage claim may cover you for the actual cash value or replacement value of the damaged property. However, there are an incredible amount of variations in Florida hurricane insurance policies, so speaking to a hurricane damage attorney first is often advised.

Roof Damage

If your home’s roof has been ripped off or hit by a falling tree or hurricane debris, it will likely be applicable in a hurricane damage claim.

Broken Windows

Similarly, windows are frequently smashed in hurricanes as they either get hit by debris or crack due to the movement of the building. Multiple broken windows quickly stack up in repair costs and should be coerced by your hurricane damage insurance.

Smashed Cars

Vehicles damaged by hurricanes may be covered in hurricane damage claims, but this will depend on your policy. If not, cars are usually covered by the comprehensive section of an auto insurance policy m

Interior Damage

Your belongings, electronics, furniture and your home’s interior structure, may have all been damaged due to strong winds. For example, if a locked door is violently pushed open due to the winds, it can cause havoc throughout the home.

Interior damage is usually included in hurricane damage claims.

Cracked Building Foundations

The foundations of a property are essential to safe living. If the foundations are cracked or moved, it may make the building uninhabitable. It should be covered in a hurricane damage claim.

Uprooted Trees and Torn Apart Gardens

Your yard and its trees are just as much a part of your property as your house. If trees are pulled from the ground into windows, roofs or cars, then you can make a hurricane damage claim.

Outside furniture should generally be tied down or safely stored inside, but decks and balconies that are damaged can be claimed for.

Swimming Pools

Similarly, swimming pools contain expensive equipment and designs. If your filtration system, pump or pool’s foundations are damaged due to hurricane winds, then you may be able to make a hurricane damage claim.

Temporary Relocation

Your home may be unsafe to stay in immediately after the hurricane until repairs are made. In this case, your hurricane insurer should cover your expenses for relocation, such as hotel or travel to a friend or family member.

What to Do If Your Home Has Been Damaged in a Florida Hurricane?

If your home has suffered hurricane property damage in Florida, then you should contact an insurance company as soon as possible.

However, without a concrete understanding of your homeowners’ policy, you may be exploited or receive an undervalued claim.

By contacting our property damage attorney, we can review your case and communicate with the insurance company on your behalf. This will protect you from being undervalued, denied or delayed in your much-needed repairs.

Our top tips for hurricane damage claims in Florida include:

  • Speak to a Florida property damage attorney.
  • Investigate the damage, listing all damage from appliances to windows.
  • Take photos of your damage to create proof that it was caused by the hurricane.
  • Contact your insurance company and inform them of the damage.
  • Keep all receipts of damaged items and repair bills.
  • Keep records of which insurance adjuster you’re talking to.
  • Review all documents carefully to avoid being undervalued.

Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Hurricane Claims

Free Consultations!

If your home or property has suffered from hurricane damage in Florida, then contact us today.

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 hurricane insurance claims.

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

2 10, 2021

Florida Hurricane Insurance Claim: Why You Should Contact an Attorney

By |2021-10-02T13:26:29-04:00October 2nd, 2021|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , , |

If you need to make a Florida hurricane insurance claim, then you may need legal support.

Understandably, you may not know when or why you need a hurricane damage attorney’s help. Many clients come to us in desperation, realizing they’re being manipulated, but they’re not sure what to do about it.

Insurance companies generally don’t care about you and want one thing – to save money. You deserve better than this. Here’s how a hurricane damage attorney can help.

We Fight Difficult Insurance Providers

Hurricanes cause billions of dollars in damage. For example, Hurricane Katrina saw $108 billion of damage.

Insurance companies consistently try to reduce their expenses by using unjust tactics that leave property owners in dire situations. These are called ‘bad faith’ disputes.

Bad faith Florida hurricane insurance claims include:

  • Claiming damage was caused before the hurricane.
  • Delaying claims dangerously close to deadlines, so you can’t make another.
  • Denying repair bills.
  • Demand you to provide additional paperwork, knowing you’ll struggle to provide it or to slow the process.
  • Argue that the damage was not covered in your policy.
  • Undervaluing the value of your claims, with low ball offers.
  • Failure to investigate your claim fast enough.
  • Delaying or denying payment.

Stand Up to Daunting Florida Hurricane Insurance Companies

So what can a hurricane damage lawyer do to help? Firstly, they’ll stand up to the insurers who often have an army of lawyers.

With legal representation on your side, you won’t break under pressure or be forced into a lowball offer. Our hurricane damage lawyers will see through the insurer’s tricks because we’ve seen them a thousand times.

Whether your claim was delayed, denied, underpaid or any other form of bad faith, our hurricane damage insurance claim attorneys hold insurance companies responsible through:

  • Preparation
  • Appeals
  • Negotiations
  • Litigation

Insurance Company Laws

In Florida, the law requires insurers to act in good faith. A hurricane damage attorney knows the law inside out and will hold your insurance provider to that law.

The Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights states:

  • You have the right to receive notice that your claim has been received within 14 days.
  • You have the right to receive notice that your claim will be paid, either partially or fully; or is denied; or will be investigated within 30 days.
  • You have the right to receive notice that your claim has been reviewed and that you’ll receive payment or denial within 90 days.

Preparing Your Florida Hurricane Insurance Claim

For anyone who has experienced significant property damage, then it may be beneficial to have an attorney prepare your Florida hurricane insurance claim.

Insurance companies will exploit any weak spots in your claim, or missed information – so your claim must be water-tight.

A hurricane damage attorney will ensure you include all records of expenses, bills and repairs, as well as gathering and including photographic and video evidence of the damage.

They’ll also check the hurricane insurance claim is correctly filed and submitted before any deadlines.

When Is It Time to Contact a Florida Hurricane Damage Attorney?

In almost every case, the sooner the better – to avoid missing deadlines and costly mistakes. Sadly, a denied claim is difficult to fight back against without new evidence. That’s why it’s generally best to get a lawyer’s support as soon as possible.

Insurers are also far less likely to mess around, trick, or deny a claim that involves a property damage attorney.

Being proactive is better than reactive. If your claim is well-prepared and has all the necessary evidence and documentation, then you could save yourself time and money on a long and tiring legal battle.

Key Warning Signs

There are key warning signs that your Florida hurricane insurance claim is being handled unfairly.

The previously mentioned ‘bad faith’ disputes are all red flags, plus:

  • You’re told, “your insurance doesn’t cover that damage.”
  • False or misleading statements made by your insurer.
  • You’re offered a settlement that is significantly less than required for repairs.
  • Slow and difficult processing times with bad communication.
  • Ultimatums and new conditions.
  • Insurers advise against speaking to an attorney.
  • Insurers undervalue damage or ignore it entirely.

Remember – you paid your premiums for moments like this. You deserve better than being pressured into low offers or unfair denials.

How to Hire a Florida Hurricane Damage Attorney?

If you believe you need a lawyer to help resolve a Florida hurricane insurance claim, you should:

  • Find an attorney from a Tier 1 law firm.
  • Ensure there is no fee unless you win.
  • Receive a consultation with the attorney.
  • Ask for examples of successful cases similar to yours.

Is a Property Damage Attorney Worth It?

If your claim is denied or undervalued without a fight back, you will be facing significant repair bills without sufficient insurance payments.

If you hire a property damage attorney who asks for no fees unless you win, then you effectively have nothing to lose – the alternative is a feeble low-ball offer, a denied claim or a missed deadline.

Top 10 Hurricane Damage Costs in U.S. History

($ Millions)

  • Hurricane Katrina (2005) – $65,000
  • Hurricane Sandy (2012) – $30,000
  • Hurricane Harvey (2017) – $30,000
  • Hurricane Irma (2017) – $29,900
  • Hurricane Marla (2017) – $29,670
  • Hurricane Andrew (1992) – $16,000
  • Hurricane Ike (2008) – $18,200
  • Hurricane Wilma (2005) – $10,760
  • Hurricane Michael (2018) – $13,250
  • Hurricane Ivan (2004) – $8,720

Statistics provided by iii.org

Hurricane Damage Attorney in St Petersburg, Florida

Free Consultation Today

If your property has suffered damage and your Florida hurricane insurance claim is being mishandled, contact us today.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by U.S. 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 tackle the insurance companies.

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

2 09, 2021

Common Types of Property Damage Claims

By |2021-09-02T09:56:02-04:00September 2nd, 2021|Categories: Fire Damage Law, Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims, Tree Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

There are various types of property damage claims in Florida that can help you rebuild and repair following the devastating effects of natural disasters and accidents.

Property damage occurs more often than people think, so it’s important that you have the necessary homeowners insurance. Note that in some cases, you may need to buy an add-on to your homeowner’s policy.

Here are the most common types of property damage claims in Florida and how a property damage attorney can help:

Wind and Hail Damage

The most common type of property damage claim is for those caused by wind (34%). On average, a wind damage claim accounts for $11,200 worth of damage.

These claims cover damage caused by hurricanes, hail storms, tornadoes and other strong storms. Storms bring strong winds that can rip the roof apart or throw debris at your walls, leading to expensive repairs. Common wind damages include:

  • Broken Outdoor Furniture
  • Broken Windows
  • Damaged Air Conditioning Units
  • Damaged Roofs
  • Damaged walls from flying debris
  • Damaged solar panels
  • Fallen or uprooted trees
  • Missing or broken shutters
  • Severely damaged exterior paintwork, stucco or cladding
  • Structural Damage
  • Water intrusion

Water Damage

Water damage causes damage fast. Long-lasting damage too. Whether it’s a broken pipe, plumbing failure, hurricane or flood, these are expensive repair jobs. It’s important to remember that while the extent of the water damage may be obvious, it’s best to get a proper appraisal with the help of a property damage attorney – to ensure you and your insurance company don’t miss anything.

In 2018, 23.8% of property damage claims were for water damage. Common examples include:

  • Damaged appliances
  • Damaged furniture
  • Discoloration on walls, ceilings and floors
  • Mildew
  • Structural damage
  • Termite and bug infestation
  • Weakened foundations

Fire Damage

32.7% of property damage claims come from fires. Fires are brutal. Whether they’re started in the kitchen or lightning strikes, they spread fast and burn pretty much anything in sight. They also spread smoke and chemicals throughout the property. It’s vital that your insurance policy covers fire damage, as they can strike anyone at any time.

Be warned that insurance companies find ways to blame homeowners for fires, from accusations of arson to violating your policy. That’s why you should always contact a property damage attorney to get a fair payment.

On average, this type of property damage claim accounts for $79,785 worth of damage. Examples include:

  • Appliances and electrical items damaged
  • Damaged electrical systems
  • Damaged plumbing systems
  • Destroyed furniture
  • Discoloration of walls and belongings
  • Foundation damage
  • Odor from smoke
  • Roof damage
  • Structural damage

Sinkhole Damage

If you live in Florida, then sinkholes should be included in your homeowner’s insurance policy. There are more reported sinkholes in Florida than in any other U.S. state.

Sinkholes are often hard to detect but can pull your home to the ground. If you see even a small sinkhole, it could signal a bigger problem further below.

In Florida, homeowners are required by law to offer coverage for catastrophic ground cover collapse, but comprehensive sinkhole coverage is optional.

Insurance companies are notorious for working their way out of paying for sinkhole damage, which is why you should contact a property damage attorney to fight for you.

Hurricane Damage

When Florida’s hurricane season hits, property damage claims go through the roof. They become one of the most common types of property damage claims.

Hurricanes are particularly devastating, with even the most robust buildings often suffering some form of external damage.

It’s important to note that Florida’s homeowner insurance covers hurricane damage caused by wind, but flooding is not. That’s why it’s often advised to take out an additional flood damage policy to cover all bases.

Theft Damage

Burglary and theft incidents are frightening but also costly. From stolen items to smashed windows or possessions, you deserve to be compensated for this damage. 1 in 400 insured homes makes a property theft claim every year.

Although these damages are protected under home insurance policies, insurers are often reluctant to pay out the necessary fee. They may blame you for lack of security or undervalue your items. Thankfully, property damage attorneys are experienced and comfortable with taking on these big insurers and proving that you deserve the full payout.

The FBI found that 74% of burglaries occur in residential neighborhoods.

Tree Damage

Florida property owners are well aware of the damages caused by trees in storms and hurricanes. Strong winds can rip trees from the ground, causing them to smash into windows and walls while devastating the yard.

But did you know tree damage can occur naturally too? From encroaching roots to falling tree branches, it happens every day.

Tree damage claims may seem simple, but they’re often complicated. Roots and branches can cross property lines causing confusion and claim denials from insurers.

If your property has incurred tree damage, you should contact a property damage attorney to help make a case that brings you the damage cover you deserve.

What to Do If Your Property Has Been Damaged?

If your property has suffered damage, you can make one of these types of property damage claims to receive financial cover for the losses, repairs and rebuilding.

Sadly, insurance companies do not just hand out money without making it difficult. They have a variety of tricks up their sleeves. They often try to blame you, undervalue your losses, deny claims, use delaying tactics and more – all to pressure you into accepting a low ball offer.

But you deserve better. That’s where we come in. As property damage attorneys, we help fight insurance companies to get you the money you’re owed. We’ll prove the costs of your damages and won’t give in to the tricks and pressures of insurers.

Property Damage Attorney in St Petersburg, Florida

Free Consultation Today

If your property has suffered damage or you’re facing a problematic insurance company, then contact us today.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by U.S. 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 tackle the insurance companies.

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