Florida Property Damage Lawyers

August 24, 2022 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and our sister firm Dolman Law Group Accident Injury & Insurance Lawyers, P.A.., handle property damage claims throughout Florida. We handle insurance claims stemming from fire, smoke, wind, water, hurricane, storm, and roof damage. Additionally, we handle Florida cast iron pipe claims on homes built before 1975.

If your home or business suffered property damage, it is important to know where to turn for help. Call our Florida property damage lawyers immediately to begin learning about your options. Insurance companies do not always want to play fair with property owners even when they hold valid policies. We know how to handle insurance companies and can help you get the money and protection you need.

Choose the Best Florida Property Damage Lawyer For Your Case

Before selecting a Florida property damage attorney, it is important to consider the following:

  1. Not all law firms are the same- Not all lawyers or law firms actively litigate their claims against insurance carriers.  We have successfully litigated insurance claims against giants such as State Farm, Allstate, Geico, USAA, Progressive, and many others. Insurance carriers are aware of our reputation for aggressively litigating our claims.  In fact, many Florida insurance lawyers refer their biggest and most complicated claims to us to handle.
  2. We have the financial resources and experience to take on any insurance carrier. In fact, our law firms maintain a large line of credit.  Our goal is to properly resource each and every claim handled. Whenever necessary, we will retain the best experts to properly illustrate the extent of damages our clients sustained in their property damage loss.
  3. Do not pick a lawyer solely off a television commercial, billboard, or radio spot. It is essential that your attorney or law firm offers personal attention.  The majority of our business has been built off referrals from very satisfied former clients.  The biggest issue with large advertisers is their focus on handling a heavy volume of claims. It is difficult to provide personal attention when handling volume.  In fact, a common complaint we receive from a new client that has terminated their relationship with a law firm that heavily advertises; is they never spoke with nor met their former lawyer.
  4. Many law firms do not actively litigate their claims.  Insurance carriers are inherently unfair. These are for-profit corporations with one goal; to return large dividends to their shareholders by limiting payout of claims. If a law firm is rarely litigating, they are essentially stating through their behavior that insurance carriers are usually fair.  We know that is not the truth.

Wherever you live in Florida, we can help. Our law firm has offices across the state from coast to coast, including Tampa, Miami, and Clearwater. We know Florida insurance companies and the tricks and tactics they use to delay or deny property damage claims. Our firm is skilled in litigating and handling these complex cases and it shows. Contact an experienced insurance lawyer at 833-552-7274 to discuss your property damage and learn how we may assist you.

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Florida Property Damage Attorneys You Can Trust

Bad weather and a host of other things can cause damage to the real estate and other property you own. Depending on the extent of property damage, you might experience a significant financial burden in the aftermath of the damage.

The purpose of having insurance is to protect you in times of need.  When damage occurs to your home or property, you have the expectation that your insurance company will make you whole again.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Property insurance is purchased in order to prevent losses related to the storm and other damage. Yet, insurance companies don’t stay in business by paying out on every claim that comes their way. Your insurance company will go out of their way to pay the least amount possible on your property damage claim.

An experienced Florida property damage attorney can help you fight to receive the maximum value for your insurance claim. We will work to hold the insurance company responsible for the policy they wrote, and the policy you agreed upon by paying your premium.

We can help you survey property damage in order to submit a claim. We can also assist if your insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement, or if they deny your claim.

The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA serves clients throughout Florida from their offices in Sarasota, New Port Richey, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg.

Contact an experienced insurance lawyer at 833-552-7274 to discuss your property damage and learn how we may assist you.

Types of Florida Property Damage

There are several different types of property damage in Florida that might lead you to file a claim. Some examples of common types of loss you might experience in Florida include property damage from:

Cast Iron Pipes – Leaky Pipe Water Damage

Commercial properties and Florida homes built before 1975 often made use of cast iron pipe in the construction of their plumbing. Unfortunately cast iron has proven to corrode over time.  Inevitably case iron pipes will fail and insurance carriers make a bad situation worse by delaying and even denying leaky pipe water damage claims. Insurance carriers will often claim the alleged damage is simple wear and tear.

Signs of Cast Iron Pipe Corrosion

  1. Slow drainage – rust and other materials can clog the pipes and slow drainage.
  2. Animal and insect infestation – lookout for rats and cockroaches.
  3. Foul or musky odor.
  4. The unusual color of the water.
  5. Floor tiles that are broken or cracked.
  6. Grout and floor tile that has become discolored
  7. Backed up water in the sink or toilet.

Flood Damage in Florida

Water damage caused by flooding is not covered in your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy.  As surprising as that may be, the exclusion of flood damage in homeowners’ policies is industry standard. That is why the United States Government offers flood insurance that is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema).

Depending on exactly where you live, your landlord or mortgage company might require that you purchase flood insurance. You might have also chosen to purchase it on your own. If you have flood damage, you must file a claim with your insurance agent. Even though the U.S. government provides insurance, it will still deny claims.

In the event your flood damage claim is denied, you can also go through the FEMA appeals process or choose to file a lawsuit. After a denial, you only have one year to file a lawsuit against FEMA or the insurer.  Once you file a lawsuit, the appeals process ends.

Florida Hurricane and Storm Damage

We live in Florida because of the weather, but that can potentially put us in the path of a hurricane.  Even though storms can be tracked with precision, they are oftentimes unpredictable.   There is no way to anticipate the damage that will be left in their aftermath.  The extent of damage can be devastating to a property owner. It can cause extensive damage that can result in a total loss of property or business.

Common types of hurricane damage may include:

  • Broken windows
  • Interior damage
  • Flooring
  • Damage from projectiles (flying debris)
  • Roof damage - lifting, shingles, gutters, and siding
  • Water and moisture damage (mold damage)
  • Structural damage
  • Property damage to outdoor fixtures, sheds, landscaping, and pools
  • Damage to boats, cars, and other vehicles or watercraft
  • Fire damage from downed wires
  • Destruction of personal items, furniture, appliances, etc.

Do you have a hurricane damage claim? 

Roof Damage

Living in Florida can be like a vacation.  But, along with the sunshine comes hurricanes, tropical storms with high wind speeds, and severe thunderstorms.  Your roof is a key structural part of your home and is one of the most vulnerable parts of your home to weather and other elements.  Roof damage can be a serious expense and if not repaired in a timely manner, it can lead to further property damage.

If your roof has been damaged from a natural disaster, strong winds, tree branches, or for any other reason, you are covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy.  You may be entitled to compensation for roofing repair, restoration services, or roof replacement.

However, payouts for roof damage may be limited due to exclusions in your homeowner’s insurance policy.  Roof damage coverage is strict in categorization.  This can lead to a dispute with your insurance company over the cause of the damage or the event that led up to the damage.

Smoke and Fire Damage

When a fire occurs in your home or business, destroying your personal property and belongings, it can be devastating - emotionally traumatic and debilitating financially.  Filing an insurance claim is the first step towards recovering damages and fire damage restoration.

According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), there were 1,318,500 fires reported in the United States in 2018.

These fires were responsible for:

  • Deaths -3,655
  • Injuries - 115,200
  • Dollar Loss - $25.6 billion

Residential fires are the leading property type for:

  • Fire deaths - 75%
  • Fire Injuries - 77.1%
  • Fire Dollar Loss - 43.3%

What Are the Most Common Causes of Residential Fires?

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the most common causes of residential fires are:

  • Cooking - unattended cooking; barbecue, appliance failure
  • Heating - heating equipment (furnace, fireplace, wood stove, portable heater)
  • Electrical - lighting, wiring, and electrical equipment
  • Smoking - cigarettes, pipes, and cigars
  • Seasonal - barbecues, Christmas trees, decorations, candles, lightning, and fireworks
  • Arson - intentionally set fires

Water Damage

Water damage claims are one of the most commonly filed property damage claims.  Your policy may cover water damage from a burst pipe or water damage as a result of plumbing and coverage can depend on a multitude of factors including the source of the water, type of damage, negligence, maintenance, or just normal wear and tear.

In order to receive the compensation you need for water damage repair and water damage restoration, it is important to keep good records. And document everything.

Wind and Windstorm Damage

Wind damage is defined as the damage to a structure or building as the result of high-powered winds.  This can result from a tornado, hurricane, or another type of serious storm.  Damage resulting from wind and windstorms can include damages to your home’s siding and structure, roof damage, and damage to trees and landscaping.

Florida law requires insurance companies to provide windstorm coverage in a residential property insurance policy.  It is important to look at your windstorm policy to see what is covered and if there are any coverage exclusions or limitations with respect to wind damage,

Depending upon your homeowner’s insurance policy, your property may not have full coverage for wind and windstorm damage.  It is important to have a thorough understanding of your insurance policy. Make certain that you know what you are covered for and what may be excluded.

The statute of limitations in Florida for filing windstorm damage claims against insurance companies is three years.  Insurance companies are also permitted to withhold policy coverage for any property damage until after the repairs have been made.

It is important to seek the advice of an experienced property damage attorney in the event of wind and windstorm property damage.  They can help you understand your policy and provide support for your claim.

Termite Damage Insurance Claims

For such a small bug, termites can be one of the biggest headaches that homeowners have to deal with. Termite damage can end up costing thousands of dollars to repair and signs of an infestation do not usually become apparent until a hive has chewed through a significant portion of wood. Property owners that look to insurance claims to cover the damage inflicted by a termite infestation are often disappointed to discover that their policy has language that excludes coverage in cases such as this. 

Just because a property insurance company has denied your claim or told you that you cannot get money to cover your termite damage does not mean that there are no options available. Consider seeking out the assistance of a termite damage lawyer to determine if there is still a way to seek coverage for termite damage to your property. 

An experienced termite damage lawyer can comb through your policy and determine if there are any loopholes or other options that can be utilized to get you compensation. For example, despite some policies excluding coverage for termite damage, they may still have a collapse provision that can be used if your termite damage causes a collapse. 

Florida Personal Property Covered by Insurance

Florida Property Damage Insurance Claim

In addition to commercial and residential properties, the property can also include a wide variety of items such as:

  • Cars and trucks
  • Motorcycles and scooters
  • Yachts, boats, and personal watercraft
  • Electronics such as televisions, stereos, and computers
  • Furniture
  • Jewelry
  • Musical Instruments
  • Artwork including paintings and sculptures

Some personal property items like cars, motorcycles, and boats have separate insurance policies, which are relatively simple. Yet, homeowner’s insurance is notoriously complex, and has many exclusions and caveats regarding coverage. Even though they are on your property, a detached garage or a privacy fence might be excluded under your homeowners’ policy.

What to do Before a Florida Property Damage Claim

Prepare yourself in the event that you will have to make a home insurance or renter’s insurance claim.

Creating a detailed inventory of your property is extremely important when it comes to making a claim. This will help you to prove the value of your property, what property you had before the disaster, and it will speed up the claims process in general. Keep your inventory up-to-date with any new purchases, like new jewelry or a new TV, so they are included.

To create this inventory, start by taking photos and videos of all your belongings and of your entire property. Think about what items you would want to replace if they were destroyed and start there. Things like expensive electronics, meaningful items, and other costly things should be included.

You should also write down a description, including year, make, and model number for valuable items if possible.

Be sure to also get extensive photos and videos of the outside and inside of your property to later prove its condition.

Florida law requires insurance companies to engage in the fair settlement of claims. To protect their bottom line, some insurance companies push the boundaries of these requirements, and others clearly go over the line. Regardless of the type of property damage claim you’ve made, insurance carriers’ legal obligations towards policyholders include:

  • To properly investigate all claims based on adopted standards
  • To factually represent parts of a policy related to a specific claim
  • To acknowledge and take prompt action once a policyholder files a claim
  • To conduct investigations based on the available information before denying claims
  • To communicate in writing the investigation of a claim within 30 days of receiving documents proving the loss
  • To provide a reasonable explanation to the policyholder for denying a claim or offering a lower settlement
  • To promptly notify the policyholder when the carrier needs additional information to process a claim
  • To explain the nature and reasons for any requested additional information
  • To pay undisputed amounts to policyholders within 90 days after a property damage claim

Insurance carriers who do not follow the above guidelines are acting in bad faith.  This can entitle claimants to restitution and financial damages if a court rules in favor of the claimant. Yet, insurance companies also have legitimate, albeit sometimes dubious, reasons for partially or fully denying property damage claims. An experienced property damage lawyer can help you get the payout you deserve and avoid some of the common reasons for claim denial.

Reasons Your Florida Property Damage Claim Might Be Denied

If your insurance company denies your property damage claim, it doesn’t mean they are acting in bad faith. Most carriers will, however, use whatever justification they can find to avoid payouts. Some common reasons your claim might be denied, or you might not receive the maximum payout, include:

  • Failure to pay your premiums. Even if you regularly pay your premiums, a short lapse of a week or less can result in claim denial. It can be something as simple as an expired debit or credit card, or a bank returning an automatic payment for lack of funds.   This can cause a lapse in coverage and give your insurance company justification for denying your property damage claim.
  • Filing your claim late. Your contract has specific requirements related to notifying your carrier of damage and when to file a claim. Hiring a property damage attorney to help you navigate through the claims process can ensure you meet all required deadlines in your policy.
  • Exclusion of coverage. Insurance companies are notorious for denying property damage claims made under homeowners’ insurance policies. Some common situations specific to Florida residents include flood damage, water damage, and hurricane or storm damage.
  • Inadequate proof of damage. When you file a property damage claim, you must provide your insurer with proof of loss. This often includes a complete inventory of items that suffered damage. If your carrier feels you did meet their proof of loss requirements, they will deny your claim, at least partially.
  • False claims. If your insurance carrier believes you have filed a questionable claim, they have the legal right to deny the claim based on non-disclosure.

In the event of a hurricane or storm claim, the policyholder should file a claim as soon as possible after the storm.  The insurer will send an adjuster to your property to assess the damage.  The carrier will often make a lowball settlement offer or even outright deny the claim.  Common reasons for a low settlement offer or a denial of your claim include:

  • High-risk location. If your home or property is located along the coast, a carrier may contend that the policyholder assumed the risk of hurricane or storm damage.
  • Citing pre-existing damage. Most commonly found with mold, an insurance company may claim that the damage existed prior to the hurricane or storm.
  • Stating the damage sustained is not included in your policy
  • Not code-compliant. Insurance carriers may deny the claim due to the property not being up to building codes.  This is common in older buildings/homes.
  • Water damage post-hurricane. The insurance carrier may determine that the damage to your property occurred after the hurricane or storm.

How a Florida Property Damage Attorney Can Help

Florida Property Damage Attorney

If your claim has been denied or you have been offered a low settlement after your property has been damaged, you might feel hopeless. You are not. An experienced property damage attorney can help maximize your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve to repair or replace your personal property. Here are some of the specific ways an attorney can help you with your claim:

  • Contract knowledge. Insurance policies are long and complex agreements full of legalese that the average person does not easily understand. It is important to have a clear understanding of the terms, especially regarding exclusions and declarations.  A qualified lawyer can help to decipher and translate your homeowners’, commercial property, renters, or other personal property policies.
  • Communication and Control. Insurance adjusters are trained to elicit statements during their claims investigations that will devalue a claim or offer justification for denial.

A skilled property damage attorney can handle communication with your insurance carrier.  They can protect you from saying something that could harm the outcome of your case.  To ensure that the claimant and carrier meet all policy deadlines, your attorney can take control of the claims process and communicate with the insurance company on your behalf.

  • Negotiation. Insurance companies sometimes offer early and low settlements to policyholders to avoid large payouts. . You should consider these settlement offers as a jumping-off point for negotiations. An experienced property damage lawyer is used to dealing with nefarious insurance companies and they know how to make demands, negotiate, and get results.
  • Favorable Scope of Loss.  Your attorney can work with a contractor to prepare a Scope of Loss.  Scope of Loss is a document that sets estimates for rebuilding and/or replacing property that has been damaged.  This will help to get a favorable settlement from the insurance company.
  • Litigation. A qualified attorney can help you if you need to sue a third-party for property damage.  Your lawyer will investigate the circumstances of your damage and claim and will uncover facts to support your case and build a strong offense. Your attorney will advocate and fight for you in the courtroom to help you get the compensation you deserve for your damaged property.

Contact an Experienced Florida Property Damage Lawyer Today

After filing a claim for property damage, you are entitled to a proper payout on your claim and should not have to shoulder the financial burden for replacement or repair if a third party caused your property damage.

You should pursue legal action if an insurance company denies your claim for property damage or refuses to pay the amount that you feel you deserve.

Property damage lawyer in florida
Florida Property Damage Attorney, Matthew Dolman

In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a property damage claim is four years from the date the damage occurred.  This is applicable to any lawsuit pertaining to the repair, restoration, or replacement of your damaged or destroyed property.

If you are seeking insurance compensation due to property damage, contact an experienced Property Damage Attorney at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA.  We will review your case and your insurance policy.  Our attorneys will assist you in obtaining the insurance compensation you are rightfully owed.

Schedule a free consultation with an attorney at our law firm.

Contact the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA online today or call 833-55 CRASH

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765
Phone: (727) 451-6900

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Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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