After your house or commercial property has been damaged, you must choose the best lawyer to handle your case. When dealing with property damage to your home or business caused by a tornado, hurricane, wind, hail, flood, or act of God, you need an insurance litigation lawyer. The lawyer should have had experience representing first-party insurance claims and know how to combat the tactics used by bad faith insurance companies to deny your claim or wrongfully delay payment.
What Types of Property Damage Are Recoverable?
Hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other natural calamities are causing widespread fear among homeowners around the country. This is hardly fair given that similar calamities cost victims $91 billion in 2018.
Aside from the natural disasters that are currently wreaking havoc on the earth, there are also terrible incidents of human-caused property damage. When you own property, you are vulnerable to theft, vandalism, and damage caused by construction or automobile accidents.
A property damage claim can cover any insured property, including cars, yachts, planes, art, and collectibles. Damage to a home or company, on the other hand, is more likely to necessitate the services of a property damage lawyer. Any type of unintentional damage that cannot be linked to the property owner’s fault should be covered by an insurer.
This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Hurricane damage
- Damage from a tornado
- Wind-related damage
- Flooding damage
- Mold damage
- Damage from a fallen tree
- Storm-related damage
- Smoke and fire damage
- Damage caused by hail
- Property damage caused by a car accident
- Damage from sinkholes
Regardless, your insurance company is probably wagering that you don’t fully grasp your coverage and will deny your claim if they think you won’t fight back. Furthermore, the insurance company’s claims adjusters will not give you the benefit of the doubt when assessing the damage.
Is It Necessary to Hire an Lawyer to Dispute a Property Damage Claim?
If you’ve submitted a property damage or loss claim with your insurance carrier but are having difficulty navigating the process, you may wish to consult with a lawyer. This is especially important if your insurance company is contesting your claim.
A lawyer can assist you in resolving the issue and ensuring that you obtain enough compensation for the damaged property.
Take a look at a few of the common arguments used by insurance companies as you explore your legal options:
#1. Problems with Coverage
Your insurance company may deny your claim for coverage. This may entail contesting the entire claim. For example, you may claim that water damage was caused by a burst pipe. However, the insurance company may claim that it was caused by a flood (which isn’t covered unless you have flood insurance).
#2. Disputes Over Damage
It’s not uncommon for you and your insurance adjuster to differ on the extent of your damages. Assessing any form of damage is a difficult task. Also, there may be issues about whether the property can even be repaired.
#3. Handling of Bad Faith Claims
Although insurance companies should follow the law, you may encounter an unscrupulous or irresponsible insurance carrier during the claims process. When your insurance provider conducts misconduct or fails to follow standard insurance adjusting principles, such as discarding a valid proof of loss when you provide enough information, this is referred to as bad faith.
This is referred to as bad faith because the insurance company denied your claim despite the fact that you were entitled to compensation. Other examples include refusing to fulfill your policy’s conditions, making a low-ball offer, or denying coverage without a genuine cause. Many jurisdictions have strict rules in place to protect consumers from deceptive acts.
How Can a Lawyer Assist you with your Property Damage Claim?
Property damage claims might involve a considerable sum of money. The average property damage claim, according to the Insurance Information Institute, runs between $10,000 and $12,000. Hiring a lawyer who will ensure you receive the compensation you deserve might be beneficial.
While some insurance companies will honor policy agreements with homeowners or business owners, there are a number of things that can go wrong if you file a claim.
A property damage lawyer can help you through this procedure, provide you with peace of mind, and ensure you receive compensation for your loss. Lawyers usually start with a free consultation to ensure that you have a good case. They will next go over the contents and proof of your claim with you. This will aid them in assisting you in building the strongest case possible.
If you employ a property damage lawyer, they will most likely be able to assist you with:
#1. Advancing the Process
Filing an insurance claim can be a time-consuming process. Some insurance firms routinely delay the procedure until you’re so frustrated that you’ll take a settlement substantially less than the damages you endured.
A lawyer can help expedite this process by employing countermeasures or other strategies that will force your insurance company to act. A simple threat of legal action is frequently sufficient.
#2. Damage Evaluation
Even if you’ve already filed a claim, a thorough damage assessment can help you decide the value of your case. If you haven’t filed a claim yet, your lawyer can help you understand your legal choices for collecting the highest amount of damages. Having a lawyer on your side can help to set your mind at ease while they work out the specifics.
#3. Appeals for Denial
If you suspect you were refused for an unjust cause, your lawyer can step in and ensure there was no wrongdoing in the refusal. If there was misconduct, your lawyer can file an appeal. They can even threaten a lawsuit if your claim was refused in bad faith.
#4. Negotiating a Settlement
Negotiating a fair settlement is perhaps the most significant way a lawyer can assist you with your case. Because insurance companies must earn a profit, they may issue modest settlements that do nothing to remedy the damages.
Your lawyer, who is most likely a negotiator, may interact with the insurance company and use the circumstances of your case to obtain reasonable compensation.
Property Damage Types That May Justify Hiring a Property Damage Lawyer
When it comes to damaged houses or businesses, property damage lawyers tend to have the largest influence on settlements. Home and business owners frequently hire a lawyer to handle concerns involving:
- Hurricane damage
- Wind-related damage
- Smoke and fire damage
- Leaks in the water supply and burst pipes
- Problems with the foundation
- The house is sinking (subsidence)
- Defects in construction
Homeowners and business insurance plans are complex paperwork. It’s reasonable that many policyholders are unaware of the types of damages that their policy covers. A property damage lawyer can advise you on what your policy covers and provide an unbiased appraisal of the insurance company’s settlement offer.
If you believe your insurance company is not correctly valuing your claim or treating you fairly, a property damage lawyer can help you collect the compensation you deserve for your property damage claim.
What Is Bad Faith Insurance?
In bad faith insurance lawsuits, the policyholder can receive the money they deserve or, in extreme situations, even more money than their claim would have paid if the insurance company had acted in good faith.
Insurance firms in the United States are legally required to operate in good faith and to treat their policyholders fairly. The major insurance carriers go to great pains to protect themselves by writing complex policies with dozens, if not hundreds, of exclusions and restrictions – which means your policy does not cover you for a broad list of potential damages.
That is not to say that insurance firms never operate in bad faith or always give their consumers the fair service and claim evaluations they deserve.
The human factor complicates claim valuation even further. Claims adjusters and other decision makers in the process are subject to the interests of the insurance company, which means they may make judgments that benefit the insurance company but not you, the policyholder.
Why Is Bad Faith Insurance a Problem?
Insurance companies are for-profit enterprises, not charitable organizations. They make decisions primarily to maximize their profit, which usually entails keeping income (the premiums you pay) high while lowering their expenditures (the claims they pay you for damages).
It’s in their best interest to discover ways to diminish or dismiss your claim.
Whether you should contact a property damage lawyer for your claim should be determined by the circumstances and how your insurance company treats you.
You won’t need a lawyer if they are willing to pay you the money you need to repair your home to its pre-damage condition. If the insurance company’s claims adjuster tells you, “Sorry, your policy doesn’t cover that,” it may be in your best interest to seek advice from an independent claims adjuster or a lawyer.
Property Damage Lawyer FAQ’s
Can you sue someone for property damage?
If an item causes damage to your property through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to compensation (sometimes known as claiming ‘damages’).
What is the difference between physical damage and property damage?
Property damage refers to damage to a third party’s property and is covered by commercial auto liability insurance. In most cases, physical damage refers to damage to a vehicle owned by the policyholder. Physical damage is covered by comprehensive and collision insurance.
What is malicious destruction of property?
To be termed malicious destruction of property, a person must willfully destroy, deface, or hurt another person’s personal or real property.