Fort Lauderdale Property Damage Attorneys

Experiencing property damage in Fort Lauderdale, whether it’s your home, condominium, or commercial establishment, can stir extreme feelings of financial anxiety and emotional turbulence. As Fort Lauderdale property damage lawyers, we know it can be particularly challenging when catastrophic events like the two recent EFO tornadoes which caused historic flooding in Fort Lauderdale, or the devastating hurricanes of Ian, Andrew, or Irma ravage your Broward County property. Managing the chaos of damage repair while also wrestling with the quest for fair compensation is often an overwhelming endeavor. This is why collaborating with an experienced property damage attorney in Fort Lauderdale is essential. Doing so can significantly alleviate the strain associated with securing compensation, particularly when your insurance provider or the party liable for the damage stubbornly refuses to cover the costs. Contact Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys today to converse with our adept legal team, who are ready to assist you in your time of need.

What to Do After Your Property Has Been Damaged by a Storm, Flood, or Fire

Remember to adhere to the following steps should you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to deal with property damage from a storm, flood, or fire. Prompt action is key to getting back on your feet and ensuring you have a robust claim against your insurance company.

  • Ensure safety. The initial and most crucial step is to confirm the safety of all inhabitants. In case of fire, evacuate immediately and call 911. For flooding or storm damage, assess the structure to ensure it is safe to inhabit. If in doubt, contact local authorities or a building inspector.
  • Contact your insurance company. Notify your insurance company about the damage as soon as possible. Remember to be detailed in your report. Provide them with a general overview of the damages incurred, and let them know if you intend to find temporary housing.
  • Document the damage. Take clear photographs and videos of all damaged areas and items before starting any cleanup activities. This evidence can prove invaluable when it comes to making your claim.
  • Mitigate further damage. If it is safe and you are able to, take steps to prevent further damage. This may include covering broken windows or holes in the roof or moving unaffected property to a safe location.
  • Begin cleanup and salvage. Initiate cleanup procedures only after you’ve thoroughly documented the damage. Recover any undamaged or slightly damaged items. However, don’t dispose of ruined property until an insurance adjuster has assessed it.
  • Keep a record of expenses: Any expenses related to the damage, temporary accommodations, or emergency repairs should be meticulously recorded. Retain all receipts and make notes of all related transactions.
  • Prepare for the adjuster’s visit: When the insurance adjuster comes to assess the damage, provide them with all the documented evidence and receipts. It will be beneficial to have your own estimates from professional repair services to compare with the adjuster’s evaluation.
  • Engage a property damage lawyer: If your claim is denied or you feel the insurance company’s offer is unfair, it may be time to involve a property damage lawyer in Fort Lauderdale. They can negotiate on your behalf and guide you through the legal complexities surrounding property damage claims.
  • Be patient but persistent: Property damage claims can be time-consuming. Be prepared for this and persist in your follow-ups with the insurance company.

Remember, every situation is unique, and what is applicable to one property owner might not be suitable for another. It’s always recommended to seek professional legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

Homeowners Insurance in Florida

What Is and Isn’t Covered by Homeowners Insurance in Fort Lauderdale?

Homeowners insurance policies in Fort Lauderdale typically offer coverage against a diverse range of risks. However, as experienced Fort Lauderdale property damage attorneys, we know it’s important to understand that not every incident will be covered.

Here’s an overview of what is typically covered and what isn’t:

Generally Covered by Homeowners Insurance

  • Dwelling Coverage: This covers damage to the home itself and usually the structures directly connected to it, such as a garage. The damage must be due to a covered peril, such as fire accidents or hurricanes.
  • Personal Property: This provides for losses of personal belongings inside the home due to a covered peril. This can include furniture, electronics, clothing, etc.
  • Liability: This coverage comes into play if a visitor is injured on your property or if you unintentionally cause injury to others while on your property.
  • Additional Living Expenses: If your home becomes uninhabitable due to a covered peril, this part of the policy can help cover the costs of temporary accommodation and meals.

Generally Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance

  • Flood DamageMost homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damage. For such coverage, homeowners in Fort Lauderdale typically need to acquire separate flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private insurer.
  • Earthquake Damage: Like flood damage, earthquake damage is usually not covered. This may not be as relevant in Florida as in other states.
  • Normal Wear and Tear: Routine maintenance and damage from neglect or general wear and tear are not covered by homeowners insurance.
  • Intentional Damage: If damage is intentionally caused by the homeowner, it will not be covered.

The insurance claims process can be fraught with complications, so rather than wondering whether what you want to claim for is valid or not, consult a reputable property damage attorney in Fort Lauderdale. They can help you navigate the claims process and ensure you get what you deserve.For

Common Types of Property Damage Claims in Fort Lauderdale

There are many types of property damage claims involving homeowners, condo owners, businesses, hotels, etc. which our Fort Lauderdale property damage lawyers commonly handle.

Residential Condo Claims

Condominium owners often encounter unique issues with property damage due to shared spaces, amenities, and building structures. Claims can involve anything from water leaks from neighboring units to wind damage from storms. A specific condo insurance policy often covers these situations, but conflicts may arise between individual owners’ policies and the condominium association’s master policy.

Commercial Condo Claims

Similar to residential claims, commercial condo claims often involve disputes between unit owners and condominium associations. Commercial policies often need to address issues like loss of income in addition to property damage. Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys understands the bylaws (the internal rules which govern how a business is run), policies, and the Florida statutes pertaining to association requirements.

FEMA Flood Claims

With its coastal location and vulnerability to hurricanes, many property owners in Fort Lauderdale may need to make flood damage claims through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program. These can be complex claims to navigate, often requiring proof of the flood event, documentation of the damage, and adherence to FEMA’s specific procedures and deadlines.

Understanding your coverage and the claims process can make a substantial difference in the aftermath of property damage. However, given the intricacies involved, consulting with a property damage lawyer in Fort Lauderdale like Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys can be invaluable in such circumstances.

When facing various types of property damage due to natural disasters or other events, home and building owners often turn to insurers for aid.

Here’s a detailed look at the types of property damages that can lead to claims:

  • Hail Damage: Hail can cause extensive damage to a property’s roof, siding, windows, and other exterior features. Hail damage is generally covered by a homeowners insurance policy.
  • Wind Damage: Severe storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes can result in significant wind damage. This includes structural damage to homes, condos, businesses, and other structures, with common issues like shattered windows, ripped-off siding, or even entire roofs being torn away.
  • Flood Damage: Flood damage, which is not typically covered by standard homeowners insurance, is often filed with FEMA, particularly in areas prone to such natural disasters. This can also lead to mold claims, as the persistent dampness created by a flood can create the perfect environment for mold growth.
  • Water Damage: Water damage can occur due to a variety of reasons, such as burst pipes, leaks, or heavy rain. Like flood damage, water damage can also result in mold claims if not properly and promptly addressed.
  • Hurricane Damage: Hurricanes like Hurricane Ian can result in a combination of wind and water damage. Hurricanes are often the source of extensive property damage claims, and FEMA frequently steps in to assist communities in recovery after a major hurricane.
  • Tornado Damage: Tornadoes, with their high-speed winds and debris, can cause devastating damage to homes and other structures.
  • Fire Damage: Fires can lead to extensive damage, making a property uninhabitable.
  • Cast Iron Pipes: Damage or leaks from aging cast iron pipes can lead to significant water damage.
  • Roof Damage / Roof Leaks: Severe weather, falling debris, damaged gutters, problems with roof tiles or shingles, or simple property aging can lead to roof leaks.
  • Tree Impact Damage: Severe storms can cause trees to fall, resulting in significant damage to property.
  • Lightning Strikes: Lightning can cause severe fire damage or electrical damage to property. These incidents are generally covered by homeowners insurance.
  • Mold Damage: Mold can result from various types of water damage, whether it’s due to flooding, leaks, or high humidity after a storm. Mold damage claims can be complex and typically require extensive documentation to prove the source of the water issue.

Other common causes of property damage leading to insurance claims are:

  • Water heater leaks
  • A/C leaks
  • Refrigerator supply leaks
  • Toilet leaks
  • Toilet overflow
  • Bathtub overflow

It’s crucial to remember that FEMA assistance is often provided in response to specific, federally declared disasters and not for individual incidents or typical homeowners insurance claims.

Having a clear understanding of your coverage and the claims process can significantly help if your property suffers damage. A Fort Lauderdale property damage lawyer can provide guidance and advice tailored to your specific situation.

What Are the Legal Obligations of Insurance Companies in Florida?

Insurance companies operating in Florida are regulated by state law, which sets forth numerous legal obligations that these companies must fulfill in order to protect policyholders.

Here’s an overview of some of these key legal responsibilities:

Good Faith: Insurance companies have an obligation to act in good faith when dealing with their policyholders. This means they should be fair, honest, and transparent when handling claims.

Prompt Response: Once a claim has been filed, the insurance company has an obligation to immediately acknowledge and investigate it. They should provide prompt and effective communication throughout the process.

Fair Compensation: Insurance companies are legally required to fairly compensate policyholders for valid claims. If a claim is valid, the company cannot unduly deny or underpay the claim.

Explanation of Policy Terms: It is the responsibility of the insurance company to clearly explain policy terms to each policyholder. This includes informing policyholders of what is covered under the policy and what is not.

Reasonable Investigation: Insurers must conduct a reasonable and thorough investigation of a claim before denying it or offering a settlement. They must use the facts obtained from their investigation to calculate a fair settlement.

Notification of Decisions: When a decision is made on a claim, the insurance company has an obligation to notify the policyholder in a timely manner. This includes providing reasons for any denial of claims.

Florida Statute 627.70131(1)(a) is especially significant to the claims process.

According to this provision, an insurance company must settle or deny a claim (or a portion of a claim) within 90 days of receiving notice of the claim from the policyholder. However, this is only applicable if the policyholder has submitted a complete proof-of-loss statement to the insurer. If the claim is denied, the insurer must provide written notice to the policyholder explaining the reasons for the denial.

The legal landscape of insurance claims can be complex, and navigating it successfully often requires a thorough understanding of both the specific terms of your policy and the laws governing insurance practices. A knowledgeable property damage attorney in Fort Lauderdale can be a valuable resource in these situations.

How Can a Fort Lauderdale Property Damage Lawyer Help?

A lawyer can offer indispensable assistance to those dealing with property damage claims. At Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys, for example, we can assist through the following:

  • Claim Preparation: We can help you prepare and file your claim, ensuring that it contains all the necessary details and is filed within the stipulated time frame. We’re familiar with the complexities of insurance law and can help you navigate the process effectively.
  • Negotiating With the Insurance Company: Insurance companies might offer a lower payout than what you are entitled to. We will use our negotiation skills and legal knowledge to argue for a better settlement on your behalf.
  • Claim Denial: If your claim is denied, we will review the reasons for denial thoroughly and help you file an appeal (or even file a lawsuit if necessary). We will also represent you in court if a lawsuit is the best course of action.
  • Valuation of Damages: Our lawyers at Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys can help you accurately assess the value of your damages, ensuring you claim an appropriate amount. We can bring in experts, such as contractors or property damage appraisers, to provide a comprehensive assessment of the damages.
  • Knowledge of Insurance Law: Insurance law can be complex. Our knowledgeable and experienced lawyers at Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys can help you understand the legal language in your insurance policy and can interpret Florida insurance laws on your behalf.

What Is the Average Payout for Homeowners Claims in Florida?

The average payout for homeowners claims in Florida can vary significantly based on the type of damage, the extent of the damage, the value of the property, and the specifics of the insurance policy.

Hurricane claims, for instance, tend to have larger payouts due to the extensive damage hurricanes often cause. Smaller claims, such as those for minor wind or water damage, may have smaller payouts.

However, it’s important to remember that each claim is unique, and the payout will depend on the specific circumstances of the claim and the policy coverage.

Always consult with a professional to get an accurate understanding of the potential payout and the process involved in making a claim.

The Fort Lauderdale property damage lawyers at Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys are uniquely qualified to represent your claim. You can depend on us to fight for you because we have insider knowledge of how to handle these claims. The reason: our partners used to work for insurance carriers, and they actually adjusted and litigated claims on behalf of insurance companies before joining our firm and representing homeowners.

What to Do Before a Storm Hits Your Property

Before a storm hits your property, there are several precautionary steps you can take to protect your home and belongings. These measures can make a significant difference in reducing potential damage and easing the claim process if your property suffers damage.

Create a Home Inventory

This includes documenting all of your personal belongings, their condition, and their value. An inventory can be as simple as a list with descriptions, but it’s often helpful to include photographs or video recordings of your items. Don’t forget to document high-value items such as jewelry, art, or electronics. Store this inventory, along with receipts, appraisals, or any other documentation of value, in a safe place.

Review your Insurance Policy

Make sure you understand what is covered by your insurance policy and the steps you need to take if you need to file a claim. It’s also a good time to review policy limits and deductibles and consider whether you might need additional coverage.

Protect Your Property

Secure your property by checking and repairing any weak spots, such as loose shingles, broken windows, or cracks. Clear your yard of anything that could become airborne and cause damage during a storm, such as patio furniture or loose tree branches.

Prepare an Emergency Kit

This should include essential items such as water, non-perishable food, first aid supplies, flashlights, and extra batteries.

Have a Safety Plan

Develop an evacuation plan with your family. Make sure everyone knows where to go and what to do in the event of a storm. 

While the city offers resources such as weather alerts, emergency planning assistance, and public safety information to help its residents stay safe and informed; individual preparation, like taking a home inventory and securing properties before a storm, is a critical part of mitigating the potential impact of these natural events.

In the event that damage does occur, remember to notify your insurance company as soon as possible and provide them with your pre-existing home inventory. Having these documents ready can expedite the claim process and help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your damaged property.

Serving Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, located on the southeastern coast of Florida, is known for its beach lifestyle and generally warm and sometimes-humid weather. However, its geographical location also exposes the city to a range of weather-related challenges and public safety concerns.

In light of these challenges, residents are advised to stay informed about local weather conditions, create disaster preparedness plans, and ensure their homes are well-equipped to withstand these weather events.

The city also offers various resources, such as emergency services, weather alerts, and public safety information, to help residents manage these risks. Some critical resources to know as a property owner and resident of Fort Lauderdale include the following:

  • Hurricane Help, through the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, has a Know Your Home, Know Your Zone program. This has helped in developing people’s awareness of their location — that is, whether they “live in an evacuation zone, a flood-prone area, or an unsafe structure.” The website is filled with helpful information concerning different types of public emergencies.
  • Florida provides a list of participant sheltering establishments that people can go to during emergencies.
  • Water Resto USA offers disaster restoration services, including water and fire damage restoration, mold removal, etc.
  • Water Mold Fire Restoration of Fort Lauderdale provides water and fire damage restoration, mold remediation, leak detection, air duct cleaning, plumbing, and other services.
  • Tarp Techs offers emergency (no-nails) tarp installation, boarding up, and ladder assist (for insurance inspections) services. They work directly with insurance carriers, so homeowners and roofers don’t need to get involved in the payment process.

Even though the Fort Lauderdale is known for its beautiful beaches and warm climate, as Fort Lauderdale property damage lawyers we know it also frequently experiences powerful storms, hurricanes, and flooding due to its coastal location.

Residents need to be aware of these risks and be prepared for them. The city offers resources such as weather alerts, emergency planning assistance, and public safety information to help its residents stay safe and informed. Still, individual preparation, like taking a home inventory and securing properties before a storm, is a critical part of mitigating the potential impact of these natural events.

Experienced Fort Lauderdale Attorneys

Do you have a property damage claim that has been denied? Do you believe that your insurance provider has unfairly calculated your losses and is offering an unjust amount that won’t cover the damages to your property? Whether you need assistance with navigating the claims process or have a specific complaint against your insurance service provider, the experienced legal team at Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys can help. Over the years we have built a reputation for dedication, transparency, and open communication – because we know this is the only way we can provide our clients the exceptional service they deserve. In addition to Fort Lauderdale, our legal team also serves Pompano Beach, Miami, Weston, Plantation, Hialeah, Sunrise, Davie, Fort Myers, and more. Contact Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys today!