Property Damage Lawyer Serving Residents in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach

What does our Property Damage Insurance Lawyer Do?

Boca Raton attorney handles howeowner's claims in FloridaIf you are a homeowner and have sustained damage or loss to your residential property, you may have a valid insurance claim with your property loss insurance carrier. If the claim is denied or delayed, our Firm will assist the homeowner in successfully recovering the proceeds of insurance from the carrier. Sometimes insurance companies will throw roadblocks in the way. Our aim is to help you recover your insurance in the most cost-effective and expedient manner.

Do you need an attorney to represent you against the insurance carrier?

Not necessarily. It’s possible that you can handle your claim without an attorney. But if the carrier refuses to honor the claim, it may be more responsive when you have a solid legal advocate who is working in your favor.

What is our attorney’s fee?

We work on contingency fee basis. That means we only recover our fees if there is an actual insurance payout from the carrier. No recovery means that no fees are charged to the client. Our attorney’s fee is usually less than what most contingency fee law firms will charge. We are happy to discuss fee arrangements with you in more detail.

Why choose our Law Firm?

Our Firm takes a very personalized approach to our clients. Our attorney will always be responsive to your questions and concerns. And your claim or case will be directly handled by a lawyer. We are also affordably priced.

What geographic areas do you service?

Although we can handle property damage claims throughout Florida, our Firm mainly serves property damage residents of Broward and Palm Beach Counties. For instance, if you are a resident of the greater Fort Lauderdale area (in cities like Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Pembroke Pines, Plantation, or Coral Springs), our Firm can attend to your property damage claim. Even though our main office is in Boca Raton, a Broward resident may set an appointment with us at our satellite office in Sunrise. We also serve residents in all areas of Palm Beach County, in cities like Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Wellington, North Palm Beach, and Lake Worth. Claimants from Palm Beach County may set an appointment with us at our centrally located office in Boca Raton. In addition, we can conduct phone consultations with client prospects. All consultations are free.

Whether your residence is a stand-alone home, a townhouse or condominium unit, our Firm can help you recover on your property insurance claim.

Types of Property Damage Claims

  • Fire. If your home was damaged by fire it will typically be a covered claim. Of course, if the fire is caused intentionally by the insured that will not be covered. Generally, fire coverage will include damage from the fire itself, as well as from the resulting heat, smoke, or soot.
  • Windstorm. If your home is damaged by a windstorm (e.g., Hurricane, Tropical Storm, or rainstorm), coverage is generally available as well. Under Florida law, the homeowner must provide notice of a claim for damages to a windstorm within 3 years of the occurrence or the claim will be barred.
  • Water Leaks & Pipe Breaks. A water leak that occurs in your residence is probably the most common insurance claim. These usually occur when a pipe breaks inside the house and the resulting water flow damages the interior of the home.
  • Water Damage Coverage Issues. Whether or not damage from a water leak is covered usually depends on the nature of leak. Long term leaks (i.e., many weeks and months) will generally be denied by carriers. Shorter term leaks (i.e., less than two weeks) will usually be covered. Often times, though, the insurance company will say that your damage was due to long term moisture exposure and may refuse to cover the claim. In short, water leaks can be tricky claims.
  • Mold and Mildew. Claims involving the development of mold, fungi, wet or dry rot, yeast or bacteria may or may not be covered depending on the language of the homeowner’s insurance policy. The language has to be reviewed carefully to ascertain if and when coverage is available. Often times, the policy will contain a special “mold” endorsement that provides for coverage up to a certain dollar limit, like $10,000.
  • Vandalism/Theft. The insurance policy will generally cover damages resulting from vandalism or theft of personal property. However, the policy may specifically exclude certain personal property items from coverage. In addition, there is usually a maximum dollar limit that applies to the amount the carrier will pay for lost or damaged personal property.

Important Legal Topics – Homeowner’s Insurance

  • Types of Homeowner Policies. There are different types of homeowner insurance policies that are used in Florida.
    • The HO-2 (Broad Form) policy will cover the dwelling only for the specified perils named in the policy.
    • The HO-3 (Special Form) is an “all risk” policy that covers the dwelling for all perils except for those perils which are excluded under the policy.
    • The HO-6 (Condominium Unit Owner’s Form) policy is written for individual owners of condominium units. These policies cover some portions of the interior structure but mostly cover the personal property of the insured.
    • The HO-8 (Modified Coverage Form) provides very narrow coverage to homeowners and offers less coverage than the HO-2 Form.
  • Statute of Limitations. If you have an insurance claim with your property carrier, and it was denied, it’s important to be aware of the time frame to file suit. A breach of contract claim against a carrier is limited by the statute of limitations. In Florida, the homeowner has 5 years from the date of the loss to file suit against the insurance company. If not filed within the prescribed time frame the homeowner’s claim will usually be barred.
  • Duties of the Homeowner. When the property sustains damages, the homeowner has certain contractual obligations to fulfill under the policy. Generally, the homeowner has the obligation to do the following after a loss:
    • The homeowner should give prompt notice of the loss to the carrier. Failing to provide notification of the loss in the timely manner could result in forfeiture of the claim.
    • The homeowner has an obligation to protect the property from further damage. This generally means that the homeowner should undertake reasonable and temporary repairs after loss, if possible, keep an inventory of the items of property damaged from the loss, and retain copies of all receipts.
    • The Homeowner is generally required to furnish a signed sworn proof of loss statement within 60 days of the request from the carrier. The proof of loss statement generally itemizes the damages sustained and gives an estimated value of the loss.
  • Ordinance and Law. Your policy may or may not contain ordinance and law coverage. The purpose of this coverage is to take into account the added cost of repairs which are due to compliance with applicable building codes at the time of the loss. For instance, if the homeowner has an asphalt roof that is damaged, and new code requires use of cement tile (presumably more expensive than the older roof material), ordinance and law coverage will provide additional monies to cover the extra cost to comply with code, as limited by the policy. The carrier is required by law to offer ordinance and law coverage, but the homeowner may reject this coverage in writing.
  • General Exclusions. The homeowner should be mindful of various exclusions in the policy. An exclusion in the policy identifies a cause of loss which is not covered by insurance. The exclusions which very often come into play include damages arising from the owner’s neglect to maintain the property, pre-existing damages, defective maintenance of the property, and long term water leaks and/or moisture exposure. Because policies are often written in a rather convoluted manner, it is helpful to secure the assistance of an attorney to review the policy.
  • Public Adjusters. What is a public adjuster? Generally under Florida law a public adjuster is a person who, for a commission or a fee, prepares and files an insurance claim on behalf of a claimant. The Public Adjuster (“PA”) is also able to communicate with the insurance carrier on behalf of the claimant in effecting a settlement or resolution of the property loss claim. However, public adjusters are not lawyers and cannot give legal advice to a claimant. By law, all contracts for public adjuster services must be in writing and the contract must contain certain specific information as required by statute, including the percentage of compensation for the public adjuster’s services.
  • Attorney v. Public Adjuster. Lawyers and public adjusters often have overlapping roles. Both the attorney and public adjuster have authority to communicate with the insurance carrier on behalf of the claimant. However, the public adjuster usually handles the technical aspects of the claim, such as loss valuation, while the attorney handles the legal aspects of the claim. A major distinction though is that, if the claim needs to go to suit, the claimant will need the assistance of a lawyer.
  • Bad Faith Claims. In Florida, an insurer could potentially be liable to the policy owner for engaging in “bad faith”. A bad faith action is not a breach of contract claim. It is, rather, a separate legal action against the carrier that is based upon a civil liability statute, s. 624.155, F.S. Florida’s “bad faith” statute allows an insured to sue the carrier if the carrier has committed certain designated acts as provided under the statute. However, the most common violation is the allegation that the carrier did not attempt in good faith to settle the claim when, under all of the circumstances, the carrier could and should have done so had it acted honestly with its insured and with due regard to the claimant’s interests.
  • Conditions to Bad-Faith Lawsuit in Florida. A condition for filing a bad faith action is that the claimant must file a civil remedy notice with the Florida Department of Financial Services against the carrier. Typically, this notice will be drafted and submitted by your attorney. Furthermore, a bad faith lawsuit against the carrier is only available after the insured has first prevailed against the carrier in his or her underlying breach of contract lawsuit. In other words, you cannot sue the carrier for bad faith until you have first won your underlying damages lawsuit.

If you need the assistance of an affordable property damage lawyer please contact us at 561-638-8593.