A person's home is one of their most valuable assets, providing physical and financial comfort. If your North Miami Beach home is damaged, you will likely find yourself managing repairs, taking inventories of your losses, communicating with the insurance carrier, and potentially finding alternative living arrangements while your home is repaired.
An experienced North Miami Beach property damage lawyer can assist you as you seek to recover for property damages, especially given the unique types of damage that occur in Florida. Contact Dolman Law Group at 833-552-7274 or through our website to schedule a free consultation.
Types of Property Damage in North Miami Beach
Property damage can occur from natural forces, poor workmanship or error, or negligently or intentionally by third parties on the property. No matter how the damage occurs, it is certain to disrupt your life, but certain types of damage are more common than others.
In the United States, property damage from wind, hail, water damage, and freezing are the most common types of damage, and damage from fire or lightning is the most expensive.
Because of its location and climate, North Miami Beach is susceptible to unique property damage risks:
- Hurricanes: Homeowners in North Miami Beach need to be aware of the significant risk hurricanes pose to their property. Six of the 10 costliest hurricanes in U.S. history have impacted Florida with 2.9 million single-family homes at risk in 2020 for storm surge damage from hurricanes up to Category 5 in strength. This makes Florida the state with the highest risk of storm surge in the United States.
- Flooding: Flooding is a common cause of damage after a hurricane but is also a general risk for coastal properties. Approximately 98 percent of Florida's population is located in a coastal county. Most standard homeowner's policies do not cover flood damage and instead must be secured through the federal National Flood Insurance Program or private insurance providers.
- Roof damage: The storms and hurricanes in North Miami Beach make roofs particularly vulnerable. Damage to a roof often leads to damage inside the home as well, creating a high risk of significant property damage.
- Pipe damage: It is not uncommon to find that older homes in North Miami Beach use cast iron pipes, and this type of plumbing is known to erode over time causing pipes to fail. It can be difficult to establish that pipe problems are due to pipe corrosion rather than simple wear and tear.
- Fires: Fires are incredibly destructive, causing extensive damage and possible injury to members of the household. Given the destructive nature of fires, it's not surprising that they are the costliest insurance claims in the United States. North Miami Beach sees an average of 69 fires per year.
- Windstorm: Wind damage is another common form of damage resulting from the hurricanes and storms that are common in North Miami Beach. Unlike floods, windstorm coverage is generally included in homeowner's insurance policies though it can include important limitations.
Owning a home in North Miami Beach puts the owner at risk for suffering property damage. It is important to understand your insurance coverage and how to secure recovery if your property is damaged.
Who is Responsible for North Miami Beach Property Damage?
The responsible party or entity depends on how the property damage occurred.
- Trespasser: If an unauthorized entrant on your property caused damage, they are responsible.
- Contractor or subcontractor: Anyone performing work on your home must live up to the standard of care and quality of work as others in their field. Substandard work causing present or future damage can make the contractor or subcontractor responsible for their poor workmanship.
- Local government: If the damage to your property is due to the failure of a local government or agency to maintain government property, they are responsible for the resulting damage. North Miami has a property damage claim form available online.
- Insurance company: Your insurance provider is responsible for any damage covered by your insurance policy if a third party is not responsible for the damage. The majority of property damage recovery is handled through insurance claims.
You will need to work with your lawyer to analyze the details surrounding the damage to your property to determine who is responsible. Once you determine which party is responsible, assess your total losses.
As you determine the cost of the damage, include the cost of:
- Repairs to the physical structures;
- Repair to any unattached structures like fences or sheds;
- Interior repairs, such as replacing carpet after water damage; and
- Damaged or destroyed personal items
The total of the above costs will be the basis of your claim for recovery. If you are pursuing a third party, recovery will happen through the courts. For recovery from a government entity or through an insurance carrier, the first step will be to file a claim.
How Much Should I Expect to Recover From My North Miami Beach Property Damage Claim?
Your recovery will depend on the amount of damage sustained and what is covered in your homeowner's insurance policy.
Your first step will be to assess the coverage included in your homeowner's insurance policy which commonly includes:
- Damage to the house: This portion of the policy will dictate the maximum amount recoverable for damage to the house and attached structures like a porch
- Other structures: Non-attached structures like fences, sheds, or detached garages are not included in damage to the house but will instead have a separate coverage limit under the policy
- Personal property: Loss or damage of items in your home are covered as personal property
- Additional living expenses: If the property damage is extensive, you cannot stay in your home while it is repaired, and coverage for additional living expenses pays for cost of living arrangements.
- Comprehensive personal liability: Personal liability provides coverage when a third party is injured or has any other claim arising from activity at your property.
- Medical expenses: Medical expense coverage applies to anyone injured on the property and has caps for each person per accident.
Homeowner's insurance policies typically do not cover damage from floods, earthquakes, landslides, sinkholes, animal infestation, or mold. Additional policies are required for any incidents which are exceptions in your policy.
Maintaining insurance coverage requires the homeowner to pay a regular insurance premium. The homeowner is often also responsible for a portion of the costs of the damage called a deductible. A deductible is generally represented as either a flat amount or a percentage of the damage's total cost. For example, if your policy indicates a $1,000 deductible, this means you will be required to pay the first $1,000 but any additional costs will be covered by the insurance company up to your maximum coverage. If the deductible is represented as a percentage, you will be responsible for that percentage of the total cost.
What if My Insurance Company Won't Pay My North Miami Beach Property Damage Claim?
In an ideal world, your insurance carrier would take responsibility and reimburse you for the full cost of the damage up to your policy limits. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. If you can't secure the recovery you deserve, a lawyer can work with you to assess the strength of your recovery demand and the next steps for getting the recovery you deserve.
Common reasons for denial of a claim are:
- Failure to pay premiums. If you have not kept up on your regular insurance payments, your coverage will lapse during the period of non-payment. Be sure that your payment method stays up-to-date and all premium payments are made on time.
- Untimely filing. Your insurance policy will include details for filing a claim. Be sure to follow these requirements because any failure could result in a denied claim. Specifically, be sure to file your claim within the designated time frame.
- Coverage exclusions: As noted above, certain types of damage are excluded from your policy. This is particularly common for flood damage and storm damage in North Miami Beach.
- Insufficient proof of damage. Your insurer is unlikely to take you at your word regarding the type and extent of the damage. Be prepared to provide proof of loss including an inventory of damaged items. Be sure to document any damage that you handle before an adjuster visits the property and gather independent evidence.
- Disputed costs. You and your insurer may disagree about the type, extent, or quality of work required to bring your property back to the status quo.
- Failure to mitigate. Homeowners are required to take action to prevent further damage. An insurer will not take responsibility for damages caused by the owner's failure to mitigate additional damage. For example, if a pipe bursts, you should immediately contact a plumber rather than allowing water damage to spread.
- High-risk location. If your property is in a known-risk area, the insurer may attempt to claim you assumed the risk of damage from likely natural causes such as storms or hurricanes.
- Not code compliant. If your home does not meet existing building codes, and failure to meet these codes contributed to the damage, the insurer might deny your claim or fail to cover damages that were caused by the lack of compliance.
- Pre-existing damage. An insurer will refuse to cover damage that existed before an event that caused other damage. For example, if your floors already suffered from water damage, this would not be covered by a separate flooding event.
- Termite Damage: Termites can chew through everything from support beams to even your furniture. Termites are a real and costly threat to Fort Lauderdale homes but most standard insurance policies contain language that excludes coverage of this source of damage.
While many reasons for denial of claims are valid, insurers are also likely to avoid paying whenever possible.
Your attorney can evaluate any denial to ensure the carrier complies with its legal obligations and doesn't engage in the following unfair or deceptive acts or practices:
- Misrepresentation of the benefits, advantages, conditions, or terms of any insurance policy;
- Any misrepresentation made to induce, or tend to induce, the lapse, forfeiture, exchange, conversion, or surrender of any insurance policy;
- Failure to acknowledge or act promptly on any communication concerning claims;
- Denial of a claim without conducting a reasonable investigation;
- Failure to provide a reasonable explanation of any claim denial or compromise settlement offer based on the insurance policy;
- Failure to promptly notify the policyholder of the additional required information, including an explanation of the reason for the additional information; and
- Failure to pay undisputed amounts to policyholders within 90 days of the property damage claim
An insurance carrier who does not comply with the above and other legal standards is acting in bad faith and subject to monetary penalties and a legal challenge by the affected policyholder. Even if the denial issued by your insurance carrier does not fall into a legally prohibited category, the denial may not be warranted based on your policy.
Contact Our North Miami Beach Property Damage Lawyers Today
An experienced North Miami Beach property damage lawyer will be an important partner as you seek recovery. An attorney will assist you with assessing liability, preparing an inventory of the property damage, filing claims or lawsuits, interpreting your homeowner's insurance policy, communicating with other parties, preparing legal documents, and assessing settlement offers.
The Dolman Law Group understand the stress associated with damage to your home and are committed to securing each client the recovery they deserve. One of the most critical components to a successful attorney and client relationship is open lines of communication. For this reason, each client receives the personal cell phone number and email address of the attorney they are working with. Our commitment to our clients is clear from the accolades the firm has received from Lawyers of Distinction, Super Lawyers, and America's Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.
The Dolman Law Group are well-respected in the insurance industry, and we keep our commitment to injured homeowners clear by never representing insurance companies. If you or a loved one is seeking recovery for property damage in North Miami Beach, contact our firm today at 833-552-7274 or through our website.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
1820 NE 163rd St #306,
North Miami Beach, FL 33162
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