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From October 10-12, 2018, Hurricane Michael hit the Southeast corner of the United States, leaving devastation in its wake across Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. When Michael hit Florida, it was a Stage 4 Hurricane and the strongest storm to ever hit the Panhandle. With peak winds around 155 miles per hour, it was the third-strongest storm ever recorded in the state of Florida and the fourth-strongest in all of the U.S.

Protecting the Rights of Floridians Affected by Hurricane Michael

Both the wind and the storm surge caused catastrophic damage to homes, businesses, and farms in Florida. While Panama City and Mexico Beach probably suffered the worst, the damage was widespread and affected many people throughout Jackson and Calhoun Counties. The hurricane flattened buildings and knocked down trees, and two weeks after the storm, many people still had no electricity, internet, cell service, or even a roof over their heads. With so much work to do sand so many people affected, many may not have homes for months. So far, 45 U.S. deaths have occurred due to Hurricane Michael and its aftermath, including 35 in Florida.

If you suffered serious losses due to Hurricane Michael, you may believe you can file an insurance claim and receive payment for the damage. However, with so many people filing claims all at the same time, you may experience extreme delays and even denials of part of all of your claim.

The Hurricane Michael attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are here to help people struggling to rebuild their lives after this tragic disaster. We know how to handle disaster-related insurance claims and fight against insurance companies to protect your rights.

Hurricane Michael Claims Attorney

If you need assistance with the insurance process in the wake of Michael, please don't wait to call 727-451-6900 or contact us online right away.

Damage to Your Home, Vehicles, and Personal Property?

Hurricane Michael completely flattened the homes of millions of people. Many of the homes in the affected areas that remain standing suffered severe damage to the roof and exterior, as well as extensive flood damage. Whatever the value of your house, losing your home or suffering severe damage to your home can be overwhelmingly costly. Because you want a roof over your head and a place to call your own, repairing or rebuilding your home is a top priority.

In addition, many people left vehicles behind that became ruined due to the flooding. Cars, boats, and other recreational vehicles may need to be replaced completely. Vehicles are essential to get around, especially since public transportation is limited in the destroyed areas. Repairs and replacements are expensive, however, especially if people still have loan balances on the damaged vehicles.

With homes also comes everything inside the home. As the years pass, people can amass a substantial amount of possessions, including:

Electronics, Appliances, Furniture, Clothing, Jewelry, Artwork, Collections, Exercise equipment, Gaming systems, Cookware and utensils, Books, Work and Hobby supplies.

While you may not think much of the loss of pots and pans, replacing hundreds of dollars of cookware becomes a lot when combined with the rest of your losses. In addition, many possessions have emotional value as well as monetary value. You might not consider the cost of losing your personal property until you ave lost almost all of it. When a house gets completely destroyed by hurricane-force winds, your possessions can end up strewn miles from your home. Water damage from flooding can also ruin cloths, computers, and many other valuable possessions. Some people not only lost their homes but also everything inside them damaged vehicles.

If you have been in a car accident in Florida, please do not hesitate to contact our firm and schedule your free consultation as soon as possible.

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Loss of Your Business

Hurricane Michael did not discriminate when it came to residential or commercial properties. Many people saw their businesses destroyed in the storm, which immediately cut off their source of income in addition to all of their other mounting losses. Some commercial buildings suffered damage, while other company owners lost supplies or vehicles necessary to operations. Some businesses cannot operate without power or internet service, and it may be a long time before utility companies can restore service. Days without power can cause restaurants and stores to lose all their food stores. Even missing a weeks or month’s worth of profits can result in substantial losses, and some businesses may have to rebuild entirely.

Even if the building of a business did not sustain damage, the clientele in areas hit hard by Michael has dwindled. Many counties rely on hundreds of millions of tourist dollars each year, and people may not visit the hurricane-ton areas for quite some time. Hotels are full of disaster relief workers instead of tourist. Even residents may not frequent businesses as they are focused on rebuilding and saving their money. In some areas, people cannot even use ATMs or credit cards due to power outages, and many people do not have the cash on hand to go shopping or out to eat.

The agricultural industry in Florida also took a huge hit. Sources estimate that farms in Florida suffered about $1.85 million in revenue losses for the 2018-19 year. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences estimated that approximately 1 million acres across 25 counties suffered damage, affecting vegetables, fruits, cotton, nuts, dairy, beef, and other livestock. In addition, the timber industry may suffer up to $1.3 billion in long-term losses.

Obviously, the most important thing to do after an accident is to ensure your injuries are properly diagnosed, stabilized, and treated. Your physical health is your top priority, and concern about medical costs should not stop you from seeking the treatment you need. As soon as you are able, however, you should call a highly experienced Florida car accident lawyer to discuss your legal rights.

The Insurance Process Can be Complex and Frustrating

Everyone affected by Hurricane Michael has a unique story to tell…

The first step of the process

is to determine whether your property or business insurance covers damage from natural disasters. The language of your policy should tell you which risks the policy does or does not cover. Policy language can be confusing, so do not hesitate to consult with an attorney about your coverage. our insurance lawyers can review the policy and explain your coverage to you in layman’s terms. We can also identify whether any complications are foreseeable when it comes to filing or processing a claim.

In times of natural disaster

you expect your insurance company to be there for you. After all, you pay premiums every month for protection in times like this. Your insurance should cover many losses, including carpeting, painting , mold damage, your roof, the structure of your house, walls and insulation, and personal property. You may also seek payment for the loss of food due to power outages and expense if you cannot live in your home following a disaster.

If you have a business, your disaster insurance should cover your lost inventory, equipment, and more. If you own the commercial property, that policy should cover damage to the building. If you lease the property, the property owner’s policy should cover any structural damage.

Unfortunately, insurance companies have many tactics they use to limit payouts,

especially when they are facing numerous claims from a single disaster. Just like any business, insurance companies want to increase profits whenever possible. They do so, in part, by limiting payouts to policyholders. Their tactics can result in unreasonable denials, delays, or disputes with policy holders who are already struggling Some of these tactics can include:

  • Requiring you to pay multiple deductibles – For example, if you have one policy for flood damage and one for wind damage, the company may try to require you to pay a deductible on each one. You should only have to pay one deductible, however, for damage arising from the same disaster.
  • Threatening to cancel your policy – Some insurers may try to convince you that if you make a claim, they will cancel your policy. However, your disaster policy should not be canceled because you were clearly not at fault for causing the hurricane.
  • Limiting the value of your losses – Insurance appraisers may come up with a substantially lower total for your losses than you did. They will minimize each loss and try to exclude certain items from your covering.

In addition, insurance companies can act in bad faith when processing disaster-related claims.

The law imposes the duty of good faith and fair dealing on all insurance companies. When an insurer lies to policyholders, unreasonably delays payments, or comes up with false reasons to minimize or deny claims, the insurer acts in violation of the law. In such cases, you can take legal action against your insurance company to seek the payment you deserve for your losses and more.

How an Experienced Insurance Attorney Can Help

An insurance adjuster wants you to accept the lowest offer possible. For this reason, they often try to convince you that you do not need the help of an insurance lawyer for your Hurricane Michael claim. They may tell you that they are on your side, that they have your best interest in mind, and that you can trust them. Always remember that an adjuster’s priority is their employer, the insurance company.

The first settlement offer from an adjuster will usually be embarrassingly low. Too many people accept low ball settlements for many reasons:

  • They do not realize they have the option to reject the offer and negotiate
  • They adjuster convinces them that their covered losses are much less than they thought
  • Due to delays, they simply want to get the process over with and believe that any amount is better than nothing

If you accept this offer, you cannot ask for more once you realize how inadequate the settlement is in regard to your losses. Accepting the offer ends the claim and you lose your right to seek any additional payments stemming from the disaster. To ensure you receive the full amount you deserve, you should never accept any insurance offer before having a knowledgeable insurance company review it.

At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, our lawyers know all too well the tricks of the insurance trade. We know that when adjusters tell you that you do not need a lawyer, it is because unrepresented parties often accept much less than parties with representation. Our lawyers can assist you in numerous ways to ensure the best possible outcome of your claim, including:

  • Properly assess the value of the damage you experienced
  • Prepare and file your claim
  • Communicate with your insurance adjuster on your behalf
  • Review any settlement offers and advise you whether they are inadequate
  • Negotiate the maximum value of your claim
  • Identify when your insurance company is acting in bad faith and take the necessary legal action

The right attorney can help ensure that you receive the amount you need to rebuild your life after the traumatic events of Hurricane Michael.

Contact our Skilled Hurricane Michael Lawyers Right Away

The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is dedicated to helping people in the Sunshine State fully recover for their losses, especially after the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael. We have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies.

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