New York Property Damage Lawyer

January 30, 2024 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
New York Property Damage Lawyers

Few things are more important to most people than their homes. A home provides more than physical comfort; it also provides emotional and financial support, and many consider it one of their most important assets.

If your home or other property is damaged, you might not know where to begin with repairs and replacement. You may wonder how you will pay for this unexpected property damage. Securing compensation for property damage often involves a complicated analysis of your insurance policy and tense conversations with your insurance provider.

It is not uncommon for insurance adjusters to try to settle a claim for less money than the homeowner deserves. If this happens to you, a dedicated New York property damage lawyer can help you contest the insurance company's settlement offer, negotiate a fair resolution, or potentially proceed to trial if the company is unreasonable.

If you or a loved one has suffered property damage in New York and are struggling to secure the recovery you deserve, contact the experienced New York Property Damage Lawyers at Dolman Law Group today.

What are the Common Causes of Property Damage in New York?

Property damage is physical damage to tangible property, including real estate and personal belongings. Many things can cause property damage, but some are more common or more detrimental than others. Our experienced property damage lawyers could help you recover compensation if you have been affected by:

  • Natural causes like earthquakes, hurricanes, hail, wind, storms, landslides, fire, mold, or frozen pipes
  • Construction defects such as foundation cracks, water leaks, or faulty workmanship
  • Human error, including a contractor's failure to repair property issues correctly

Based on data compiled by the Insurance Information Institute, the most costly insurance claims are from damage caused by fire and lightning. The most common property damage claims are those related to wind and hail, water damage, and freezing. Many homeowners will experience some form of property damage and will likely have to pursue a homeowner's insurance claim at some point during home ownership. Property damage statistics report:

  • Approximately one in 20 insured homes report a claim each year
  • About one in 40 insured homes has a wind or hail-related claim each year
  • An estimated one in 50 insured homes experiences a water damage or freezing-related claim each year

Considering the freezing weather New York faces in the winter months, along with hurricanes and other seasonal storms throughout the year, property damage is fairly common in New York and the surrounding areas.

Who Can a Property Damage Lawyer Hold Responsible for the Damage to My New York Property?

Whether a third party is responsible for damage to your property depends on how the damage was caused. In some cases, a person or entity may be liable to pay for your property damages, including:

  • Trespassers: If your property is damaged because of the intentional or negligent act of a trespasser (or in some situations, an invited visitor), they may be held responsible for the damage they caused.
  • Contractors or subcontractors: If you are having work performed on your house by a contractor or subcontractor, they are expected to provide quality workmanship. If they provide substandard work quality that causes either immediate damage or future damage, the worker can be responsible for their poor workmanship.
  • Local government: If the damage was caused by the failure of a local government or agency to maintain government property, they could be held responsible for the resulting damage. For example, if your house is located next to a government-owned greenbelt, the government is responsible for ensuring trees are safely maintained to avoid damaging property. In 2019, the New York City Comptroller received 7,176 property damage claims, and the city paid out $7.5 million in property damage settlements. The majority of these claims related to motor vehicles but also included water main breaks and sewer overflows.
  • Insurance company: If there is no outside party responsible for the damage, your insurance provider is responsible for any property damage that is covered by your insurance policy. This is the most common path to recovery after damage caused by a natural event.

An experienced personal property damage attorney will work with you to assess the facts surrounding the damage to your property and determine the responsible party.

How Can a Property Damage Attorney Help Once I Discover Property Damage?

The appropriate steps after discovering property damage will depend on how the damage was caused. No matter the cause of the damage, you should take immediate steps to prevent further damage. Property owners have a duty to mitigate damages, meaning that you must make reasonable efforts to stop incurring further damage.

For example, if you have a burst pipe, you should turn off the water and contact a plumber as soon as possible rather than waiting for the responsible party to get involved. Once you have taken the necessary steps to prevent further damage, assess the cost of the damage. This includes the cost to repair damaged physical structures and to replace personal property that was destroyed.

In general, once you have taken any necessary steps to prevent further damage:

  • File a report with the city. If the property damage was the fault of the city, file a report. Many of the forms you need to file a claim against the city are available online. For example, use this New York City claim form to file a property damage or personal injury claim against the city.
  • File an insurance claim. If there is no outside party responsible for the damage, file a claim with your homeowner's insurance provider.
  • Pursue legal action against the responsible party. If a trespasser, contractor, or other third party caused the property damage, you may need to take legal action to secure recovery.

Assessing your property damage losses is much easier if you have kept a home inventory detailing your possessions. Almost half of all households, however, do not keep such an inventory. An experienced property damage lawyer can work with you to determine whether depreciation will play a role in your property damage claim. If you have documents supporting your valuation of personal property, this will be valuable evidence for your claim.

Don't wait to seek payment for property damages. New York requires that any claim for compensation after property damage be brought within three years. While this may seem like a long time, it will pass quickly as you manage repairs, evaluate your losses, consider filing a claim, and potentially dispute an inadequate settlement.

What if My Insurance Carrier Rejects My New York Property Damage Claim?

New York Property Damage Claim

In a perfect world, the responsible party or your insurer will agree with your assessment of damage and take timely and efficient action to fix your property and reimburse you for any out-of-pocket damages. Unfortunately, this is not often the case.

Whether you are pursuing recovery from the government, a third party, or your own insurance company, the odds are high that they will either reject your claim or dispute the damages.

For claims against a third party or the city, you must present strong evidence to prove the other party's liability. You'll also need documentation of all the costs of repair and replacement to secure the highest possible payment.

What Does Your Homeowner's Insurance Policy Cover?

For recovery through an insurer, the first step is to read and understand your insurance policy. The type of coverage available will depend on your policy, and there are different policies for privately owned homes and commercial property. The purpose of homeowner's insurance is to provide financial relief if a covered event damages your home, another covered structure, or your personal property.

A dedicated property damage attorney can review your policy and explain the limits of your coverage. Common coverage in homeowner's insurance policies include:

  • Damage to your house: The policy will include a maximum amount you can recover for damage to the house and attached structures like a porch
  • Other structures: If you have other structures like a shed or detached garage, this coverage will apply to repair or replace those structures
  • Personal property: Personal property includes the contents of the house. Personal property is often damaged in incidents like a water leak.
  • Additional living expenses: If you are forced to seek alternative living arrangements because of the property damage, this coverage applies.
  • Comprehensive personal liability: Personal liability coverage is relevant when a third party brings a claim based on activity at your property.
  • Medical expenses: Medical expense coverage normally limits coverage for each person in an accident.

Unless the property damage caused injuries, the first four categories above are most relevant as you seek recovery for property damage. In addition to the premium you pay for your policy, most policies include a deductible. This is the amount you are required to pay before the insurer starts paying.

For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible but repairs cost $10,000, you will be required to pay the initial $1,000, and the insurer should cover the remaining $9,000. Deductibles are often represented as a percentage of cost rather than a flat amount. New York ranks 15th in the nation for the highest average homeowner's insurance premiums.

What May Your Home Insurance Policy Exclude?

Many homeowner's policies explicitly exclude coverage for:

  • Flooding, including drain and sewer backup
  • Earthquakes, landslides, and sinkholes
  • Infestations by birds or vermin
  • Infestation by fungus or mold
  • Wear and tear or neglect
  • Nuclear hazard
  • Government action, including war
  • Power failure

It's important to review any additional insurance coverage you have, including flood insurance, earthquake insurance, or an umbrella insurance policy, with a knowledgeable property damage lawyer. If your area is prone to any of these types of hazards, consider purchasing additional insurance coverage.

Once you file a property damage claim, your primary communication will be with the insurance adjuster assigned to assess the damage. Disputes will first be addressed with the adjuster but will need to be escalated if there is no resolution. It is common for insurers to attempt to undercut policy owners to protect their bottom line. This is when a tenacious property damage attorney can be your best ally.

We understand what insurance companies can and cannot do during property damage claim resolutions. New York Insurance Law prohibits insurers from engaging in unfair claim settlement practices, including:

  • Knowingly misrepresenting pertinent facts or policy provisions relating to coverage;
  • Failing to acknowledge with reasonable promptness pertinent communications regarding claims arising under its policies;
  • Failing to adopt and implement reasonable standards for the prompt investigation of claims arising under its policies;
  • Not attempting in good faith to promptly, fairly, and equitably settle claims submitted in cases of reasonably clear liability, and after receiving a properly executed proof of loss, the insurer must accept or deny the claim within thirty working days;
  • Compelling policyholders to institute a lawsuit to recover amounts due under its policies by offering substantially less than the amounts eventually recovered when the policyholder is forced to file a lawsuit and
  • Artificially deflating or otherwise lowering cost data used for adjusted claims or using cost data that is not appropriate for the region of the state where the loss occurred.

A violation of unfair settlement practices can result in a monetary penalty against the insurer. This does not, however, help you receive the recovery you deserve. A savvy property damage lawyer can analyze the actions and communications of the insurance provider to determine if they have failed to live up to their good faith responsibilities.

To pursue recovery for a violation of the insurance provider's duties, you must bring a breach of contract claim against the insurer. Recovery for these claims is limited to consequential damages that were reasonably foreseeable at the time the policy was issued. Contact an experienced property damage attorney to learn more.

Work With an Experienced New York Property Damage Attorney at Dolman Law Group

Anthony J. Russo, Jr.
Anthony J. Russo, Jr., New York of Counsel

If you can't secure the recovery you deserve for property damage—either from a responsible third party or from your insurer—a skilled property damage lawyer will be a critical partner in securing the compensation you deserve. Our property damage lawyers can help you:

  • Determine which party or parties are responsible for the damage;
  • Assess the monetary scope of the damages;
  • File claims or lawsuits for recovery;
  • Analyze your homeowner's insurance policy;
  • Communicate with the insurance provider or defendant;
  • Prepare and file legal documents; and
  • Advise on any settlement offers

The team at Dolman Law Group is committed to personal service and accessibility. We understand that communication is key to an effective attorney-client relationship. Our firm policy requires that each client receives the personal cell phone number and email address of the attorney they are working with.

Our firm has earned top distinctions and awards, including Lawyers of Distinction, Super Lawyers, and America's Top 100 High Stakes Litigators. We keep our focus on victims and never represent insurance companies. We have earned a well-known reputation in the insurance industry as fighters who won't back down.

If you or someone you know is struggling to secure the recovery you deserve for property damage in New York, contact Dolman Law Group and Dolman Law Group today at 833-552-7274 or through our website to schedule a free case consultation.

New York Office Location
3250 Westchester Ave, suite 200A/B
Bronx, NY 10461
(718) 550-3471


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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