When a hurricane causes heavy rains and severe flooding, one of the effects is large quantities of water without appropriate drainage. In many cases, the ground absorbs the water, potentially creating the conditions for sinkholes to form.
Sinkholes can cause catastrophic property damage and severe injuries, and Hurricane Ian appears to have caused several sinkholes in areas affected by the storm. Even if you escape injury from a sinkhole, structural damage to your home and other losses could cost you significant money.
If a sinkhole damaged your home or business in the wake of Hurricane Ian, the Dolman Law Group could help you recover compensation for your losses. Our Hurricane Ian sinkhole damage lawyers have more than 120 years of combined experience and know how to win these difficult cases.
We can work with you to prove to your insurance company that Hurricane Ian caused the sinkhole and that you should receive compensation for your losses. Our experienced Hurricane Ian sinkhole damage lawyers
are not afraid to take an insurer to court if necessary and will be by your side at every step.
Call us today or visit our contact page for a free consultation.
Why You Need a Hurricane Ian Sinkhole Damage Attorney
Sinkhole damage claims are among the most challenging types of property damage cases. Insurance companies often dispute sinkhole damage claims because they can be expensive and time-consuming, especially if you need to relocate until someone can fix the damage. But no matter the insurance company’s concerns, you need compensation for your losses to repair your home or business. If the insurance company does not provide adequate compensation to complete the required repairs, you could lose your home or business.
All of these factors are reasons why you need an experienced sinkhole damage lawyer.
Some of the ways a Hurricane Ian
sinkhole damage attorney can help with your case include:
- Reviewing your insurance coverage. Before you submit a sinkhole damage claim, you need to answer a few questions about your coverage. Does your homeowner’s or commercial property insurance policy cover sinkhole damage? If so, what losses does it cover? What are the limits on your coverage? What do you need to prove to claim compensation? A sinkhole damage lawyer can review your policy with you and help you answer these questions.
- Documenting your eligible losses. Once you know what your insurance policy covers, the next step is to document all the damage the sinkhole caused. Depending on the sinkhole’s size and where it opened up, the damage could include everything from a damaged building foundation and other structural problems to broken personal items and burst plumbing. Being thorough when documenting your losses is crucial to maximizing your compensation in a sinkhole damage claim, and a lawyer can show you how to account for all the damage from the sinkhole.
- Filing your claim correctly and on time. Your insurance policy likely states you must file a sinkhole damage claim within a specific window, or you lose your right to compensation. At the same time, rushing your claim could create paperwork issues or reduce the compensation you receive. A sinkhole damage lawyer can help you work through your claim quickly and correctly to prevent any of these issues.
- Negotiating a fair settlement. No matter how thorough you are with your sinkhole damage claim, the insurance company wants to pay you as little as possible. Therefore, their first settlement offer likely will not reflect payment for all your losses. A Hurricane Ian sinkhole damage attorney can review any settlement offer you receive and help you negotiate for a better deal.
- Taking the insurance company to court, if necessary. Sometimes, an insurance company will refuse to negotiate in good faith or honor the terms of their policy. When this happens, the only way to make them pay up is to take them to court. If you bring a Hurricane Ian sinkhole damage claim to trial, make sure you work with an attorney who has experience in these cases.
Why Choose Dolman Law Group for Your Hurricane Ian Sinkhole Damage Case?
Choosing a sinkhole damage lawyer is a critical decision. Who you select as your attorney could significantly affect your case and how much compensation you receive.
Here are a few reasons to choose Dolman Law Group for your Hurricane Ian sinkhole damage case:
- How we treat our clients. We know the impact sinkholes can have on people’s lives and want to make the legal process as painless as we can. Our sinkhole damage attorneys take the time to understand each client’s specific needs. We will respond quickly to any questions you have at any time and keep you updated throughout your case, so there are no surprises.
- Our results. Ultimately, a sinkhole damage lawyer’s job is to help you recover as much money as possible. Our case results demonstrate our skills and our commitment to our clients. While we cannot guarantee that you’ll recover a specific amount, rest assured that we will fight for every dollar of compensation you deserve.
- Our reputation among insurers. Because we are not afraid to take insurance companies to court, they know who we are and that we do not mess around. When an insurance company knows you have a heavyweight legal team behind you, they might be more inclined to pay your claim than risk a lengthy, expensive legal battle.
- Our firm’s resources. We serve clients in multiple states and have an extensive legal team. No matter how complex the case, we have the knowledge, experience, and staff to protect your rights.
- Convenient locations. Hurricane Ian affected much of the Southeast before it dissipated. But regardless of where you live, our experienced and dedicated attorneys can meet with you and help you fight the insurance companies. We have locations throughout the U.S. and will work with local lawyers if we do not have an office in your state.
How Much Is a Hurricane Ian Sinkhole Damage Claim Worth?
Because sinkholes do not have a uniform size and cause many kinds of damage, each sinkhole damage claim is unique. An attorney will need to investigate your specific case before they can give you an accurate estimate of how much you could recover.
Sinkhole damage that insurers usually cover includes:
- Structural damage to your home or business. When sinkholes form after a hurricane, they often damage the foundations of nearby buildings. Because buildings with cracked foundations are uninhabitable, it is crucial to begin foundation repairs immediately. Sinkholes can cause doors, windows, decks, attached garages, and patios to shift, warp, or break.
- Damage to other structures on your property. Sinkholes frequently damage multiple structures or outbuildings on a property. Fencing, storage sheds, unattached garages, patios, and decks may need extensive repairs before you can use them again.
- Damaged personal items. When a home or business shifts due to a sinkhole, anything inside the building could also sustain damage. Your insurance policy likely covers damage to furniture, appliances, electronics, and other personal items. In some cases, you might receive compensation for the cash value of a damaged item rather than the cost of repairing it.
- Relocation expenses. If a sinkhole damages a home’s foundation, you cannot stay there until someone fixes the damage. Many insurance policies cover relocation costs you incur while repairs are underway, such as hotel stays and other incidental expenses.
- Medical treatment. Sinkholes can cause severe injuries if someone gets trapped in a collapsing structure or falls into the hole. In some cases, insurance companies cover the cost of medical treatment related to sinkhole injuries. An attorney can tell you if your policy includes this coverage.
Common Sites of Hurricane Ian Sinkhole Damage Claims
Any area that suffered severe rain or flooding from Hurricane Ian could develop sinkholes in the months and years to come.
These areas include:
- Florida. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the state’s geology makes it especially susceptible to sinkholes. Furthermore, at least one study indicates Hurricane Irma likely caused several sinkholes when it hit Florida in 2017. Given how strong Hurricane Ian was and that it made landfall in Florida, it could also cause sinkholes across a large chunk of the state.
- South Carolina. Hurricane Ian made its second landfall in the U.S. in South Carolina. Rain from the storm led to heavy flooding in coastal areas and could cause sinkholes to form.
- North Carolina. After hitting South Carolina, Hurricane Ian moved into North Carolina before it finally dissipated. Though the flooding in North Carolina was less severe than in South Carolina and Florida, the storm caused at least four deaths. There is the possibility that the heavy rains from Hurricane Ian could lead to an increase in sinkholes.
What to Do if a Sinkhole Damaged Your Home or Business After Hurricane Ian
You can avoid some headaches with a sinkhole damage claim by taking certain steps before submitting your claim.
Here is what you can do to protect your right to compensation:
- Document the damage. Be careful not to fall into the hole and take lots of pictures of the sinkhole damage. Doing an inventory of any damaged personal items and including any receipts you have can also increase the value of your claim.
- Review your insurance coverage. Carefully review your insurance policy to determine what sinkhole damage it covers. If you have any questions about your coverage, talk to an attorney.
- Hire a loss assessor. A loss assessor performs the same job as an insurance adjuster, except they work for you. Having a loss assessor document the damage to your home can give you an advantage during settlement negotiations with an insurer.
- Submit your claim. Do not wait too long to submit your claim, or you could have trouble recovering compensation for your losses. At the same time, rushing your claim can lead to paperwork issues or other technical problems. We recommend you have a lawyer review your claim before you submit it.
- Meet with the insurance adjuster. You can expect the insurance company to send an adjuster to look over the sinkhole damage. Be polite and honest with the adjuster because they play a crucial role in your claim.
- Wait for the insurance company’s decision. After the adjuster makes their report, the insurance company will review your claim and accept or reject it. If they accept it, they will make you a settlement offer. An insurer’s first offer is rarely the maximum amount they are willing to pay, so you can likely negotiate a better deal. A lawyer can help you negotiate a better settlement or appeal a denied claim.
- Accept the settlement or prepare for trial. If you and your attorney can reach a fair deal with the insurance company, that is the end of your claim. If the insurer will not negotiate in good faith, it is time to prepare for trial. A sinkhole damage attorney can help you develop your trial strategy and gather additional evidence to support your claim.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hurricane Ian Sinkhole Damage Claims
Here are the answers to some common questions we receive about Hurricane Ian sinkhole damage claims:
How Long Will a Sinkhole Damage Claim Take?
The claims process can take several weeks or months, depending on how much damage the sinkhole caused and other factors. If the insurance company disputes your claim and you file a lawsuit, expect the case to take a year or longer.
How Long Do I Have to File a Sinkhole Damage Lawsuit?
If an insurance company refuses to pay a sinkhole damage claim or will not make a fair settlement offer, you can file a breach-of-contract lawsuit against them. Each state has its own statute of limitations for breach-of-contract suits. In Florida, the deadline is five years
from when the sinkhole formed or you noticed the damage. In both North Carolina
and South Carolina
, you have three years to file a lawsuit. A sinkhole damage lawyer can tell you more about the statute of limitations for your case.
How Much Will a Sinkhole Damage Attorney Charge?
You do not owe us any fees for a sinkhole damage claim unless you collect compensation from the insurance company. We use this approach so we can provide high-quality legal representation to anyone who needs an attorney.
Contact a Hurricane Ian Sinkhole Damage Lawyer Now
The Dolman Law Group is ready to help if your home or business suffered sinkhole damage after Hurricane Ian. Call us today at 833-552-7274
or visit our contact page
for a free consultation with a Hurricane Ian sinkhole damage lawyer.
The Dolman Law Group works with local counsel in any jurisdiction outside Florida for the purpose of filing lawsuits in jurisdictions wherein we are not licensed. Thus, we will follow each State’s ethical rules to ensure a local attorney is involved.