Appeals court orders new trial in hurricane damage case

According to court documents, a Florida appeals court has ordered a new trial in a case involving damage to a condominium from 2005’s Hurricane Wilma. The claim for damages was filed more than three years after the disaster by a condominium unit owner.

Reportedly, the woman who owned the condominium unit was renting it out to a tenant when she discovered mold and damage inside of a wall. While her condominium was not flooded or damaged during the 2005 storm, a neighboring tenant’s unit had been flooded. Upon discovering the damage, the woman filed a claim for damages in 2009 with the insurer, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.

The insurance company denied her claim, asserting that it was made outside of the reasonable time period called for in the policy. The woman argued that she had no way of knowing about the damage prior to 2009. Although both the trial court and a jury found that her claim should have been denied due to the passage of time, the appellate court disagreed and sent the case back for a new trial. In the court’s ruling, the three-judge panel found that the notice requirement wasn’t necessarily triggered by the storm itself.

Hurricane damage can be extremely expensive to repair. When properties are damaged by a hurricane, it is important that the owners notify their insurance company as soon as possible. They may also want to review any settlement offer with an attorney who has experience with these types of insurance matters. An attorney might help clients make certain the company provides a fair and equitable amount. As was the case here, it is sometimes necessary to proceed to litigation in the event that the claim is disputed or denied.

Source: CBS Miami, “Court revives Hurricane Wilma damage claim,” May 20, 2015