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How to Hire the Best Hurricane Damage Lawyer in Florida

Every year thousands of people move to Florida to take advantage of the sunny weather, beaches, theme parks and attractions, fantastic dining, and of course, no state income tax. Florida is known as the Sunshine State, and it's no surprise why. With more than 200 sunny days a year and mild winters, Floridians barely have to pull on a sweater, even in January. However, there is a downside to living in some regions of Florida. That downside is hurricanes. If you've suffered hurricane damage, you will probably look to hire the best hurricane damage lawyers in FL. 

Hurricanes are one of the most destructive forces in nature and can cause catastrophic damages. The damages caused by hurricanes frequently impact homes and structures by the coastline, but damages from the force of hurricanes can reach hundreds of miles inland as well.

With winds exceeding 155 miles per hour, debris can break windows, tear off roofs, and cause trees to fall. Hurricanes can also cause damage to walls or topple weakened areas of a home. On top of excessive wind speed, hurricanes bring heavy rainfall and flooding, which is often the cause of further damages to homes and structures. All of these known perils are the reason you have a homeowner's insurance policy that covers hurricane and tropical storm damage, right? Well, what if your insurance company is now refusing to cover your claim? That's where hiring the best hurricane damage lawyers, FL, comes into play.

When should you hire a hurricane damage lawyer?

You've likely been paying your insurance premiums religiously for years to protect your property in case of hurricane damage. And you know how costly those premiums are depending on the value of your home and the location. Now that you need to make a claim, your insurance company is giving you the runaround. This situation is highly frustrating since they've been paid for a service, and now when it comes time to hold up their end of the bargain, they're doing everything they can to keep their costs down and stick you with the rest of the bill.  

Typically, people will hire a hurricane damage lawyer when a problem occurs with their insurance company. Here are a few issues that could prompt hiring the best hurricane damages lawyer, FL. 

Low-ball offers: If your insurance company suggests compensating you inadequately to cover your actual damages, hiring a lawyer can be extremely helpful to change their tune. That's because an experienced hurricane damage lawyer will have keen insights into how insurance companies work and the strategies they use to undercompensate claims.

Claim denials: Sometimes, claims are denied due to improper evaluation. Lawyers should have the resources available to bring in experts to assess the basis of the claim denial and provide countermeasures. Your lawyer will provide guidance and protect your interest throughout the investigation.

HOA's: Commercial associations like HOA's owe it to their members to provide the best representation for the community. Hiring a hurricane damage lawyer is the most sensible way to ensure the interests of all residents are considered during negotiations with insurance companies.

Catastrophic damages: You may think hiring a lawyer right away after experiencing catastrophic hurricane damages is too aggressive. But a lawyer can recognize opportunities you may not even think about before even approaching negotiations with your insurance company. Remember, your lawyer is on your side. The insurance company is not necessarily looking out for your best interests. 

Additionally, hiring a lawyer right away ensures your claim will be addressed before the statute of limitations expires. The statute of limitations for a hurricane damage claim in Florida is just three years from the date the damage occurred. 

What are some questions the insurance company will ask me about hurricane damage to my property?

What happened? This question may seem like a no-brainer if a category five hurricane just went through Florida. Still, the question will be asked so the adjuster can determine whether the damage is covered under your policy.

What was damaged? The insurance adjuster needs to take a full inventory of the damage both to your property and the contents therein. That's why it's vital to maintain virtual records of your belongings, including appliance brand names and models, for example. Taking a video inventory of your belongings is always a good idea since it's hard to refute that kind of evidence. 

What is the value of your damaged property? Here again, it's crucial to maintain records so the insurance company can assign an actual cash value to your losses or provide the funds to repair or replace them.

Has anything changed since the damage occurred? If you find yourself in a position where you must repair or replace anything before the adjuster can inspect the damages, be sure to take pictures for evidence.

Are temporary living arrangements required? If your home has been rendered uninhabitable by hurricane damage, likely your policy will cover the expenses of temporary living arrangements. Make sure you understand any limitations to payments and save all receipts.

What is an insurance breach of contract?

A breach of contract is any occurrence in which a contracting party fails to stick to the contract's requirements. For example, insurance policies are a contract in which policyholders commit to paying premiums on time. The insurer upholds the scope of the policy's coverage if the claim falls within the realm of the specifications. There are two types of contract breaches. A material breach is a contract that is totally broken. The other contract breach is called an anticipatory breach. This kind of breach is when one of the parties refuses to fulfill their end of the bargain. To illustrate, an insurance company that sells packages the company can't feasibly cover is a material breach. An anticipatory breach is when an insurance company refuses to pay the insured for their legitimate claim.

What is insurance bad faith?

Insurance bad faith is a whole other level of predatory behavior by an insurance company. This means the insurance company acted unethically or behaved deceptively or exploitatively to ensure they would not have to pay out on a legitimate hurricane damage claim. Insurance bad faith can also come into play when an insurance company drags out the process of paying on a claim or fails to disclose the extent of the coverage that is owed. Bad faith actors can use further tactics like threats, intimidation, and lying to avoid paying claims.  

Suppose your case goes to a jury in Florida for insurance breach of contract or insurance bad faith. In that case, you may be entitled to punitive damages on top of compensation for financial damages. The overall wealth of the insurance company and the extent of the breach will dictate the punitive damages the jury will award to you.

What are some reasons an insurance company will deny a claim for hurricane damages?

Having an insurance claim denied can be devastating news since you've been paying out premiums for what you thought would be your peace of mind in case the unthinkable happened. However, just because they denied your claim, that doesn't have to be the end of the story. A hurricane damage lawyer can help reinstate negotiations and start an investigation to bolster your claim. Here are some common reasons your claim may be denied initially.

  • The damage is identified as preexisting
  • Your policy does not cover the damage that occurred
  • You made an error during the claims process
  • Your documentation wasn't sufficient
  • You didn't try to mitigate the hurricane damage on your own (boarding up windows, etc.)

These reasons are broad and are definitely in the insurance company's favor, but you don't have to give up if you're denied. You can take legal recourse to fight back, including taking your claim to civil court if need be. Although most cases are settled out of court, choosing a hurricane damage lawyer that is well versed in trial law is crucial. Many insurance companies are aware of law firms that routinely settle for less than the claim is really worth because they don't want to go to court. The insurance company can take advantage of their passivity and you lose out.

What are hurricane statistics in Florida?

Most people would agree that Florida seems to have more than its fair share of dramatic tropical storms like hurricanes and tropical depressions. But 2020 was a unique year where no hurricanes made landfall along Florida's 1,350 miles of coastline. However, we know from the historical record that 2020 was just a fluke. 

Since 1851, Florida has been hit by 121 hurricanes and 37 major hurricanes. That's far more than any other state in the U.S. Every year, the chances of hurricanes shoot up for a six-month-long period from June to November. There really is no "safe" place in Florida when it comes to hurricanes, as they can make it inland for hundreds of miles. However, areas around Tampa, Jacksonville, and Big Bend typically don't see as much action. The southeast coastline of Florida is more prone to land-falling hurricanes than other areas in the state.

If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, it's important to do what you can to make your property secure and review your insurance policies to assess if you have the right kind of coverage for any damages. Since insurance companies don't actually offer "hurricane coverage," you need to understand whether additional policies need to be purchased to cover flooding and wind damage.

Why hire Morgan & Morgan hurricane damage lawyers?

Morgan & Morgan Law Firm has been around for over 30 years, and we have some pretty impressive statistics to show for ourselves, including over $10 billion recovered for our clients. We understand how the insurance companies will seek to minimize compensation for victims, and we take pride in fighting for everyday people just like you. 

You paid your insurance premiums, and you should get what's rightly and justly owed to you from that contract. Our lawyers focus on your case by collecting the evidence and speaking with experts that can help support your case. Most importantly, we take away the headache of dealing with the insurance companies to get your claim settled.

For hurricane damage claims, we offer our services based on a contingency fee which means we don't make any money unless you win your case. This fee is a percentage of your compensation. We've had over 70,000 successfully resolved cases in just the last year alone. Would you like your case to be next? Contact us today for a free, no-risk case evaluation, and let us help you put the pieces of your life back together. 

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