Damage to your home can overwhelm you. Depending on its severity, your home could require weeks or months of repairs. On top of that, the feeling that your house is unsafe can make the situation even more stressful. You may file a claim to get your homeowners insurance to cover the damage, but getting a timely payout may be a challenge.
A Florida house damage lawyer from our law firm can step in to facilitate your insurance claim. We can help you get the money you need to make necessary repairs, replace personal property, relocate temporarily, and cover your other house damage expenses.
Reach out to Dolman Law Group for a free consultation. We can discuss the circumstances of your house damage, explain your rights, review your insurance policy, and provide a possible plan of action. We can get started at no upfront expenses to you.
Our Florida House Damage Attorney Can Help No Matter What Stage You’re In
A Florida property damage lawyer with Dolman Law Group can step in if you:
- Just started a claim
- Have filed a claim already
- Received a denial
- Face opposition from the insurance company
We can help:
- Document the damage
- File your claim with the insurer
- Appeal a denial
- Sue the insurance company, if needed
No matter what stage of the claims process you are in, you can count on our firm to help. Some clients come to us right away, knowing they need a professional to handle their claim with care immediately following the damage to their house.
Others pursue a claim on their own and reach out to us when the claim process becomes challenging—the insurer denies their claim, offers a minimal settlement, or undervalues their damage. Regardless of your place in the process, you can come to a house damage lawyer at our firm whenever you are ready.
Our Accomplishments Speak for Themselves
We know how to deal with insurance companies because we have represented clients with various claims for nearly two decades. The companies we face have seen our passion for fighting for our clients up close. We’ve earned a reputation as strong client advocates. The insurance industry and legal community respect us because of it.
Our founder, Attorney Matthew Dolman, has earned multiple distinct honors, such as:
- Florida Super Lawyer
- Top 40 Lawyers—American Society of Legal Advocates
- Lifetime member of the Million and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
- Legal Elite by Florida Trends Magazine
- Avvo “Clients Choice for Personal Injury”
- Top 100 Lawyers by National Trial Lawyers
- National Trial Lawyers Association—Top 100 Civil Plaintiff Attorney
If you’re facing opposition in your house damage insurance claim, we can get the job done. We’ve had insurers reconsider their claim denials and lowball offers just because we signed on to a case, but reputation is no substitute for legal talent, legwork, and litigation strategy. We put each of these to work for you as we take care of your house damage claim.
How Much Does a Florida House Damage Lawyer on Our Team Cost?
The attorneys at our firm work based on contingent fees. We do not ask you to pay hourly rates, retainers, or any expenses up front. We only get paid if we win your case. Whether that means settling your claim or winning a trial verdict, you will only pay us if we resolve your claim with a financial award.
At that point, our attorneys get paid a percentage of the compensation they help you recover. We’re happy to explain more about our pricing arrangement during your free consultation. We want to make sure you are comfortable with our fees before we work together.
Types of House Damage Covered in Florida
House damage can be mild or severe, resulting in minor repairs, temporary relocation, or total loss requiring complete rebuilding.
Generally, we focus on the type of damage that your homeowners insurance policy covers. A house damage claims lawyer from our firm can take your case if you’ve sustained damage to your home from any of the following incidents:
Heavy wind is a destructive force all its own, ripping off rooftops and siding and shattering windows. It can knock down trees and powerlines and send large objects through the air. Tropical storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes pose a threat to houses all over Florida, bringing winds that can cause catastrophic damage.
Though not as well known as other hazards, hail does occur in Florida. It can damage roofs, windows, or siding. In extreme cases, it can even penetrate the exterior of your home.
Water damage can occur in various ways: an opening in your roof, a shattered kitchen window, or accidental overflow from a clogged sink drain, to name a few. Busted pipes inside the wall or a punctured hose on a home appliance can also cause water damage.
Even with its overall subtropical climate, parts of Florida, particularly in the north and panhandle, may experience low temperatures. Freezing pipes and air conditioning or sprinkler systems can cause water damage. A burst pipe can lead to standing water in your house that can ruin flooring, furniture, personal items, and wooden fixtures like cabinetry.
The damage a fire can cause is often devastating for houses. A fire can melt and char parts of your home, resulting in structural damage and incinerating personal possessions. Smoke damage can also destroy the interior of your home, leaving stains and a strong odor behind.
When lightning strikes, it can short out appliances, electronic devices, and wiring. A direct hit on your home may even spark a fire. Lightning that hits a pipe or electrical wires outside the home and then travels inward into the house can cause the most damage.
Lightning can damage even non-electrical systems and parts. It may knock out some of your home’s major systems, forcing you to take up temporary residence.
Your homeowners insurance policy may cover items stolen from your home. The policy may cover property damaged or destroyed during the theft, like broken windows, doors, or other items within the house.
Insurance can cover you if your home was vandalized, defaced on the outside or inside, leaving behind graffiti, broken windows, ruined doors and furniture, or damaged personal items.
Many homeowners policies cover falling trees, construction equipment or machinery, or just anything subject to falling on top of your house.
Hurricanes, tropical storms, thunderstorms, broken dams, and busted levies can lead to flooding. A flood can cause substantial damage to the interior and structure of your home, not to mention your personal property. It can also lead to mold and mildew growth.
Flood insurance, which is a separate policy from standard homeowners insurance, may cover the cost of damage from this water inundation.
An explosion can be catastrophic in terms of injury and property damage. Gas stoves and grills, water heaters, furnaces, and combustible products can lead to unforeseen explosions.
Reviewing your insurance policy can inform you of which types of coverage you have and to what extent they cover the damage you’ve sustained. Our team can review your insurance policy with you during your free case evaluation.
Florida House Damage Lawyer Near Me 833-552-7274
How Homeowners Insurance Covers House Damage
Our house damage attorneys can help you determine which type of homeowners insurance covers the damage your home sustained.
Dwelling protection pays for damage to the structure of your house, which includes walls, the frame, the roof, and the foundation. It also covers damage to other parts of the home itself and structures built into the home.
Your dwelling coverage protects you against damage to:
- Floors or carpeting
- Water heaters
- Central air conditioning system
- The frame of the house
Personal Property Protection
Homeowners insurance also covers your personal belongings within the home if they are damaged or destroyed due to a covered hazard. If a power surge shorts out your refrigerator short, the policy should pay for the repair costs. If burglars steal your home theater, you may replace it under your personal property protection coverage.
Types of possessions personal property protection covers include:
- Electronic devices
You may also cover the value of certain items beyond your policy limits if you have extended coverage. This is helpful for high-value property, which may be capped under your original insurance policy.
Your insurance provider may want you to itemize your personal property and include a value estimate per your policy terms. This process can be time-consuming and frustrating for claimants. A house damage lawyer from our firm can relieve the burden by taking inventory and valuing your items for you.
Your Insurance May Not Cover the Full Cost of Replacing Your Property
The money you receive for repairs or replacements depends on whether your policy uses the replacement value or the actual cash value to determine the payout.
A replacement cost policy may pay to replace your item or part with a similar one. The replacement will be the same kind and quality as the original. Insurance pays for the full amount of the cost.
By contrast, an actual cash value policy only pays for the cost of replacing an item up to the value of the original. The policy will pay out the cost of the replacement minus depreciation. Suppose you need to replace a refrigerator you bought four years ago. If a replacement costs $1500, your insurance would only pay part of that cost. The logic is that after four years, your original refrigerator is no longer worth that amount.
Additional Living Expenses
Depending on your policy, you may have coverage for temporary living expenses. If your home is uninhabitable due to the damage, you need to relocate temporarily while your home undergoes repairs. If you’ve lost your residence entirely, your insurance should cover some of the living arrangement costs.
The additional funds can help you pay for a hotel room, rent an apartment, or lease another home. Insurance may also cover the costs of related living expenses.
Your temporary living expenses coverage may pay for the following:
- Cost of rent
- Meals and dining out
- Commuting to work
- Other transportation costs
Many insurance policies allocate 20 percent of your total coverage amount to your temporary living expenses. The payout is separate from your overall insurance payout and does not decrease the amount you receive for home repairs, replacements, or rebuilding.
For a free legal consultation with a house damage lawyer serving Florida, call 833-552-7274
Rebuilding Your Home After Damage
A typical homeowners insurance policy pays to rebuild your home after a total loss. Suppose your house was destroyed in a fire or the structure of your home was irreparably damaged in a hurricane, so it was dangerous for you to continue living there.
You may decide you want to rebuild. If so, your insurance should cover the cost of rebuilding up to policy limits. Sometimes, the damage may exceed the policy limits, depending on inflation and the type of homeowners insurance policy you have.
Home Insurance Policy Limits Adjusted for Inflation
Most insurers include a clause that guards your property against inflation. If inflation rises, the value of your policy adjusts to keep up. In that way, if you need to rebuild your house, your policy will reflect the increase in building costs.
If you have an extended replacement cost policy, the insurance pays for a specified percentage above your policy limits to rebuild. The additional payment may be 20 percent or more above your limit, depending on the insurer.
Some insurance agencies offer a guaranteed replacement cost policy that pays to rebuild your house regardless of costs. There is no limit; however, the insurer may only pay to replace the home with the same materials used in the original construction and not more expensive materials unless it cannot be helped.
What Type of House Damage Is Excluded Under a Homeowners Insurance Policy?
Homeowners insurance policies may have numerous exclusions that could affect your claim. Some policyholders are surprised that certain catastrophic types of damage are not covered.
Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. You must purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) separately. Flood damage comes from an inundation of water from a natural source that has accumulated on the ground before intruding into your property.
A flood originates from sources such as:
- A breached levee
- Broken dam
- Flash flood
- Continuous rainfall
- Storm surge
- Overflowing lake, river, or ocean
It must also cover two or more properties or two or more acres of land. Flood insurance will only kick in if the flood in your home meets the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) definition. Otherwise, you may not receive coverage from your homeowners policy.
One point of contention with insurance companies is the belief that policyholders claiming water damage have actually experienced flood damage and are not entitled to coverage. It’s advisable that you enlist the help of a Florida house damage attorney on our team, who can help you successfully gather the evidence needed to prove your losses are covered under your policy.
A home insurance policy doesn’t generally cover earth moment. Earth movement occurs when the ground shifts and causes damage.
- Sinking, shifting, rising of earth
Flood insurance may cover mudflows but excludes other earth movements caused by a flood. So, if the foundation of your house is damaged and the structure of your home begins to sink or tilt due to flood waters or a sinkhole, you may have to pay out-of-pocket for repairs if you don’t have special coverage.
Sinkholes can be a big threat in Florida. The state is riddled with underground limestone caves, bodies of water, and heavy rainfall. State law requires insurers to cover ground cover collapse coverage in the home insurance policy, but it is highly specific and does not cover all sinkhole damage. Other sinkhole scenarios may be covered under separate sinkhole insurance. You want to may have sinkhole coverage added to your insurance policy.
Homeowners insurance doesn’t usually cover damage from sewage backup. Instead, you would need to have sewer backup insurance (also called water backup insurance). This insurance pays for the damage caused by wastewater backed up into your home from a drain line, sewer line, or failed sump pump.
A Florida house damage claims lawyer on our team can review your policy to understand which coverage and exclusions apply to your claim.
How a House Damage Lawyer at Dolman Law Group Can Help Your Claim
At Dolman Law Group, we strive for fair and full compensation. We do everything in our power to achieve that as quickly as possible. Our attorneys understand that waiting for the insurance company to pay is a challenge.
We also know that you don’t have time to dedicate to working on your insurance claim when you have to work, look after your children, or tend to the aftermath of your house damage. Our law firm can step in and ensure that the insurance claim process doesn’t put your life on hold.
A house damage attorney at our firm can take your case off your hands. You can rely on us to handle the details of your claim to make the process as smooth as possible.
To move your claim forward, our firm can:
- Investigate the cause of the damage to your home: Our attorneys work with quality investigators, experts, and police to identify who or what caused the damage to your home. The source of the damage plays an integral role in your insurance claim filing and could affect your financial recovery.
- Document the damage your house sustained: A member of our legal team can take photos, record videos, and make notes of any damage your home or other property has endured.
- Appraise your damage: We can work with public adjusters and appraisers, along with repair and restoration experts, to determine the value of the damage and the cost of repairs and replacements. We can inventory and itemize your property with their corresponding estimates for your insurance claim.
- Communicate with the insurance company: A house damage lawyer on our team can take on the communications with your insurer. This job usually entails managing calls, emails, meetings, and the exchange of paperwork.
- Negotiating on your behalf: We advocate for your complete financial recovery in negotiations with the insurer, protecting you from unfair lowball offers.
- Meeting deadlines: Your property damage lawyer can ensure that they meet any legal deadlines pertaining to your case, so you do not jeopardize your right to compensation.
- Appealing insurance claim denial: If the insurer incorrectly or wrongfully denies your claim, we can appeal the decision on your behalf. We can correct errors in paperwork, misinformation, and insufficient evidence to get your claim approved.
- Suing the insurer: If a breach of contract or bad faith practices stop or delay your fair payment, your lawyer can file a lawsuit to get the money you deserve.
Our law office can take care of your property damage claim while you focus on stabilizing your life and family. Your attorney can build your claim with your assistance on a schedule that works for you.
Our Florida Property Damage Lawyers Can Step In If You’ve Hit a Roadblock
You can come to Dolman Law Group at any point if your claim has hit a roadblock. Insurance agencies may be more flexible when an attorney has stepped in. Not to mention, your claims lawyer has the legal know-how, financial wherewithal, and insight into insurance practices that can move your case forward. This is especially important if you receive a denial for your house damage claim.
Understanding Why Your Property Damage Claim Was Denied
A denial is a frustrating end to your claim, but it is not the final word. You can appeal to have the decision reconsidered. Successfully appealing requires you to understand why you received a denial. Your insurer must explain the denial in writing.
Common reasons claimants receive denials include:
- You missed the filing deadline stipulated in your policy.
- Your policy was unknowingly canceled due to missed premiums.
- You provided inadequate proof to support your claim for damages.
- The insurer believes the damage was caused by a non-covered peril.
- The damaged property is not covered under your policy.
- You failed to prevent further damage to your house or other property.
- The insurer believes you misrepresented the damage to your home.
A house damage lawyer from our Florida firm can obtain and review your denial letter to determine the reasons you were not approved. From there, we can take steps to counter each point the insurer included. If it turns out that your claim was unjustifiably denied, we can file a lawsuit to resolve the situation.
What Are the Time Frames for Filing Property Damage Claims in Florida?
In general, it is difficult to say how much time your property damage claim may take to process. A myriad of factors can influence the timeline at any stage. Some of these are within your control. Alternatively, the insurance company, the courts, or any number of parties involved in your claim may have more of a say in other areas.
Our law firm can work to keep your case moving, but the speed of your payout may hinge on the insurance company. To help ensure that insurers do not unreasonably delay a claim, the state restricts the time insurance agencies have to perform certain actions. Homeowners have several rights to protect their right to fair and reasonably expeditious recovery.
According to the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights, your insurer generally has:
- 14 days to acknowledge the receipt of your property damage claim and provide your next steps
- 30 days from the date you provided proof of loss to inform you of whether your claim is fully covered, partially covered, being investigated, or denied if you ask them to do so in writing.
- 90 days from the time you file your home damage claim to conclude any investigation they initiated and either pay your claim in full, pay the portion of your claim that’s undisputed, or deny your claim. If the insurer fails to pay or deny your claim during this time, the company owes you interest, which accrues from the date you filed your claim until the payment is remitted.
- 20 days from the date you reach a written settlement agreement to pay you the money they agreed to. Failure to pay within 20 days results in a yearly 12 percent interest penalty, per Florida law.
Our house damage attorneys in Florida make it a point to monitor these deadlines and respond to the insurer’s actions—or lack thereof— appropriately. If the insurer stalls the process without reason or neglects your claim, we can fight back.
Why the Insurance Company May Deny Your House Damage Claim
We make every reasonable effort to work with your insurance company, but those efforts are not always fruitful. When insurance companies delay payment, deny your claim, or undervalue your damages, we may need to file a lawsuit to correct the problem. Moreover, a breach of contract or bad faith conduct can lead us to the same conclusion.
We may advise you to sue the insurer for:
- Neglecting your claim and not responding to the initial filling
- Failure to investigate and process your claim within legal deadlines or within a reasonable amount of time
- Failure to remit the amount of money owed
- Distorting the law or your insurance policy terms
- Unjustly denying your homeowners insurance claim
- Failure to inform of coverage limits
- Failure to provide essential information or refusing to provide information you are legally entitled to know
Deadlines for Suing the Insurer
Generally, Florida law stipulates that you must initiate a lawsuit for breach of contract or bad faith conduct within five years of the cause of action. We recommend consulting a homeowners insurance claim lawyer at our firm as soon as possible to get the ball rolling. Working through the insurance claim process, preparing a lawsuit for trial, and dealing with the insurer are not usually quick undertakings.
Putting off the start of your claim or waiting to enlist legal help could result in you missing the statute of limitations. If there are no legal exceptions that apply to your case, you could lose your right to seek financial recovery in court.
Contact Dolman Law Group Today for a Florida House Damage Lawyer
At Dolman Law Group, we commit ourselves to fight for your financial recovery if you’ve experienced damage to your home. Whether the damage is minor or catastrophic, if your insurance policy covers it, you are entitled to a fair payout. Let a home damage attorney from our firm handle your claim so we can get you the money you need to repair your home, relocate your family, and cover your other expenses.
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