Florida Hurricane Damage Lawyer
Hurricane season is an unavoidable part of living in Florida. If you live in Florida – especially on the coast – it is important to understand your rights as a home or property owner after suffering hurricane-related property damage. Insurance companies often try to underpay claimants for their property damage related to hurricanes. You may require assistance from a lawyer to file a hurricane damage insurance claim and fight for fair compensation.
At Williams Law, P.A., we have been representing clients in insurance claims throughout Florida since 1995. We can help you with the insurance process from beginning to end if you have suffered any type of hurricane damage. Request a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today.
Why Choose Our Florida Hurricane Damage Lawyers
- Our attorneys have a long history of achieving successful case results. We have recovered more than $100 million for our clients using aggressive negotiation strategies.
- We put our clients first. We will communicate with you often as our client to make sure that you have everything you need throughout the legal process.
- We can represent you on a contingency fee basis during any type of insurance dispute. This means you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we achieve financial compensation for your claim.
Do You Need to Hire a Hurricane Damage Insurance Attorney?
A hurricane damage insurance attorney will work for you, not for an insurance company. This is an important distinction, as it means that your attorney will protect your best interests rather than try to take advantage of you for his or her own profit. During a hurricane damage insurance dispute, your attorney can explain and defend your legal rights.
Your attorney can also go up against an insurance corporation on your behalf at trial, if necessary. An attorney will share your goals for your case and will use proven negotiation tactics to optimize your case’s outcome. Most importantly, hiring a lawyer can allow you to rest and relax while an experienced professional handles the legwork of your claim.
Common Types of Hurricane Damage
Every year, Florida sustains billions of dollars in hurricane damage. Statistics from the Insurance Information Institute states that 2020 was a record-breaking hurricane season, with 30 named storms. 2021 also reported above-average hurricane activity, including Hurricane Elsa and Tropical Storm Fred, which both made landfall in Florida. A hurricane – or even a tropical storm or tropical depression – can cause a wide variety of property damage for victims, such as:
- Water damage
- Flood damage
- Mold and mildew
- Wind damage
- Roof damage
- Siding damage
- Broken windows
- Shed and garage damage
- Fence damage
- Destroyed belongings
- Storm debris on the property
- Downed trees and limbs
If your property suffered any type of damage in a Florida hurricane, you may be eligible for financial compensation from your property insurance carrier. Note, however, that your policy may include coverage for water damage, but not if it comes from a storm surge or flood. Hurricane water damage in Florida often requires an additional flood insurance policy. It may take some negotiating to recover fair benefits from an insurance company. The insurance company may use many different tactics to reduce your payout or avoid paying you altogether.
How Hurricane Damage and Wildfires Relate in Florida
Hurricane damage may not only refer to property losses sustained by the hurricane itself. The environmental damage done by a hurricane in Florida can lead to a complicated peak fire season, as well – increasing the risk of fire damage in the wake of a hurricane. In Hurricane Michael, for example, 72 million tons of forestry debris were downed. Around 90 percent of this debris remained on the ground, creating tinder that caused a severe threat of wildfires. Lightning from a storm or hurricane could also spark wildfires in dry regions.
Whether or not your insurance covers wildfire damage depends on where you live and the area’s history of wildfires. If you live in an area in Florida that is historically prone to wildfires, your general insurance policy may not cover this type of damage. We can help you understand your property insurance policy and defend your rights against pushback from an insurer. If your wildfire damage is tied to landscape damage from a hurricane, we may be able to help you file a claim for additional compensation after a closed hurricane claim.
Williams Law, P.A.’s Practice Areas for Our Clients
Our attorneys have extensive experience handling hurricane damage insurance claims in Tampa and throughout Florida. Our managing partner, Attorney K.C. Williams, has spent his entire career representing individuals and businesses with Florida-based insurance claims. He has established himself as one of the most active insurance claim lawyers in the state, with a reputation for achieving unparalleled results for his clients. Mr. Williams and his associates can aggressively pursue the following types of claims:
- Florida property insurance claims
- Hail and wind damage
- Water damage
- Flood insurance claims
- Homeowner insurance claim
- Tampa property insurance claims
- Automobile insurance claims
- Bad faith insurance
- Business interruption insurance
- Cast iron pipe property damage
- Commercial property damage
- Condominium claims
- Hotel damage claims
It is important to find a lawyer with experience with your specific type of case. This is the only way to know that your lawyer has the knowledge and real-world experience to properly handle your claim and recover maximum benefits. K.C. Williams has been litigating Florida hurricane damage claims for over 20 years. We know exactly how to handle hurricane claims and related insurance matters for all types of properties.
Reopening a Closed Hurricane Claim in Florida
At Williams Law, P.A., we also handle cases where our clients need to reopen a closed hurricane damage claim. For the most part, once a settlement is accepted, the insurance company sees the claim as closed and will not allow it to be reopened. However, under the law, insurance claims are open-ended. If your property sustains further damage after the initial event, such as wood rot from a leaky roof, you have the right to bring an additional claim. As you may expect, insurance companies do their best not to allow these claims to move forward.
If you wish to reopen your hurricane claim in Florida, you may need our lawyers to help you negotiate with the insurance carrier. We can help you pursue new damages under an old claim to pay for newly discovered or caused property damage connected to the storm. If the insurance company argues that your original settlement should cover your new damage, for instance, our lawyers can help you prove that the settlement is inadequate. We can bring in experts, if necessary, to establish your new damages. Mr. Williams has secured additional compensation in a number of closed hurricane damage claims.
Examples of Insurance Company Bad Faith
Insurance bad faith means that an insurance company is breaching its legal and ethical obligation to handle your claim properly and in a good-faith attempt to resolve the legal issue. There are state and federal laws that control how an insurance company must treat its claimants. Unfortunately, insurance companies and their claims adjusters often break these rules and breach their warranties. Insurance bad faith during your hurricane damage claim may take the form of:
- Ignoring your claim.
- Wrongfully rejecting your claim.
- Waiting an unreasonable amount of time before investigating.
- Unfairly delaying the processing of your claim.
- Demanding an excessive amount of proof of losses.
- Arguing that your property damage was pre-existing.
- Undervaluing your claim’s value.
- Failing to offer benefits up to your policy’s limits.
- Using threats or intimidation tactics.
If you believe that you are experiencing insurance bad faith during your hurricane damage claim in Florida, contact an attorney for assistance. Williams Law, P.A. can help you go up against an insurance company using a bad-faith claim. This type of lawsuit could result in financial compensation to penalize the insurance company in addition to compensation for your underlying hurricane damage claim.
What Are Your Options if Your Hurricane Claim Is Underpaid?
When an insurance company gives you a low settlement offer, it will generally come with a release of liability waiver for you to sign. Do not sign this form or anything sent to you by the insurance company until you’ve discussed your case with an attorney you trust. Signing a liability waiver typically closes your case. It can be difficult to reopen a case and negotiate for higher compensation for the same losses. This is why it is important to take steps to ensure that your claim is paid in full the very first time.
If you believe that your homeowners or commercial insurance company has not offered enough to cover the full extent of your hurricane-related losses, you have the right to submit a counteroffer. This is an official document that explains why the settlement is too low, requests a higher amount and lists the losses included in your claim. If the insurance company gave a reason for undervaluing your claim, such as insufficient proof of your losses, your counteroffer may also require additional evidence submitted to the insurer to support the claim.
If your hurricane damage insurance claim is still being underpaid despite settlement negotiations, contact an attorney for assistance. Some insurance companies do not take clients seriously until they are represented by lawyers. You may need a lawyer to push an insurance company into offering fair compensation. If settlement negotiations fail to achieve the desired result, your lawyer can represent you during a hurricane damage lawsuit, instead. A lawsuit may provide a better outcome than an insurance settlement.
What to Do After a Hurricane in Florida for an Insurance Claim
In the aftermath of a hurricane, once it is safe to return to your home, take photographs to document your property damage. It is important to create proof of your losses to send to the insurance company. Make temporary repairs to prevent any additional damage. If there is a hole in your roof, for example, patch it to prevent further water damage while you wait for your claim to process. Failing to mitigate your damage could give the insurance company a reason to reject or reduce benefits.
If you are forced to relocate while your home is being repaired, keep all of your travel and hotel receipts. You can include these as part of your hurricane damage insurance claim. Contact your homeowners and flood insurance companies to file claims. Then, prepare for an insurance claims adjuster to visit your property for an in-person damage evaluation. Once the insurance company finishes processing your case, it will either accept the claim and offer a settlement or reject the claim and give its reason for doing so.
If you receive an insurance claim rejection or believe that your case is worth more than the insurer is offering, consult with a lawyer for assistance before giving up. There may still be a chance of receiving fair compensation. You may need to go up against the insurance company directly by filing a bad-faith claim. This type of lawsuit can hold an insurer accountable for mishandling your claim or treating you unfairly. An attorney from Williams Law, P.A. can help you pursue a bad-faith claim in addition to your hurricane claim.
What Is the Deadline to File a Hurricane Damage Claim?
Like most legal processes, there is a deadline on the ability to file a hurricane damage lawsuit in Florida. While the language on your specific insurance policy will tell you the deadline for filing an insurance claim – typically, as soon as possible – state law gives you no more than three years from the date that a hurricane first makes landfall in Florida to file a related lawsuit.
If you are filing a specific type of lawsuit connected to hurricane damage, such as a flood or wind damage claim, you may have a shorter deadline. Flood damage lawsuits depend on the language of the policy, but claimants typically have one year from the date of the insurance settlement offer or denial letter to file flood lawsuits. Wind damage lawsuits must be brought within two years. Sometimes, Florida will give extensions for certain hurricanes.
It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you suffer property damage in a Florida hurricane. Insurance companies and the courts are strict with filing deadlines. If you wait too long to contact your insurance company, you may lose the opportunity to recover financial compensation. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to preserve your right to file.
Schedule a Consultation With a Florida Hurricane Damage Attorney
If you recently suffered property damage from a hurricane or tropical storm in Florida, don’t hesitate to contact Williams Law, P.A. to request a free consultation with one of our experienced insurance claims attorneys. We can help you fight for the financial compensation that you deserve. Start with a free initial consultation at our Tampa, Florida law office. Call (800) 451-6786 or contact us online today to request your case review.