Know Your Rights After A Disaster Strikes
Find Help After Property Damage
Whether it’s a fire, flood, tornado, or other force, natural disasters are devastating. In the Gulf South, we are all too familiar with dangerous hurricanes and the destruction that comes along with them. Our region routinely faces unfathomable loss due to these weather events. Unfortunately, insurance policies are often full of legal jargon that simply doesn't make sense to the common person. Many can leave you feeling hopeless and unmoored after a disaster. At , we provide guidance on the best ways to recover after property damage or loss, from storms or other factors. Our goal is to clearly explain everything you need to know, what rights you have, and help you get the compensation you deserve.
Types of Property Damage Claims
There are many different types of property damage claims, which makes this a complex area of the law. In Louisiana and our surrounding areas, are the most common examples. However, property damage results from any destruction caused by acts of nature like these, willful destruction, or negligence.
If your insurance company is refusing to provide the financial protection you're entitled to after any of these events, we can help.
Types of Property Damage Claims
When it comes to your home or business, just one inch of floodwater can cause over $25,000 in damage. Examples of property damage as a result of flooding include:
- Structural damage such as buckling floors, foundation cracks, and roof issues
- Electrical damage that leads to broken or frayed wiring, as well as fires
- Mold and mildew formation on drywall, flooring, insulation, and personal belongings
- Appliance damage such as your refrigerator, water heater, or HVAC system
- Damage to septic and well water systems due to clogged water and debris
Depending on the severity of the flood, some or all of these issues may be present after the event. The catch? Most homeowners' insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. Flood coverage is a separate policy that can cover the building or house, as well as everything inside. If you have a mortgage from a government-backed lender in a high-risk area, flood insurance may even be a requirement.
Hurricanes represent one of the largest weather threats to Louisiana and our nearby states. Wind, rain, and storm surges come together to create a perfect storm of destruction. With all of these elements combined, the damage can be catastrophic. Roofs are torn off buildings, homes sustain rising floodwater, and electrical fires can spark along the power grid.
Just 16 years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and only a year after Hurricane Laura, the Gulf South is currently facing the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. According to property data analyses, Hurricane Laura is responsible for anywhere between $8 and $12 billion in damage in Louisiana. More than 500,000 homes and commercial properties were destroyed or damaged due to the intensity of this weather event. In Texas, Hurricane Laura damage estimates are around $550 million.
Downed power lines, wildfires, and even simple cooking mishaps can lead to devastating fire damage in your home or business.
In general, this type of property damage is broken into two main categories. The first is primary damage, caused by direct flames to your home, business, or belongings. Secondary damage occurs from the smoke or water used to extinguish the fire.
Fortunately, fire insurance is usually included in your homeowners' insurance policy. You can purchase additional or separate coverage if you feel it is necessary.
The damaging winds of a tornado can easily wreak havoc on buildings, and in some cases, completely level them. According to catastrophe modeling company RMS, insured losses in the United States from tornadoes average about $17 billion each year, nearly equal to the losses incurred by hurricanes.
Tornadoes are ranked on a scale according to the damage they cause. The Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale is as follows:
- EF 0: Wind speeds between 65 and 85 mph, leading to broken branches and downed trees
- EF 1: Wind speeds between 86 and 110 mph, leading to roof damage, mobile homes movement, and vehicles pushed off the road
- EF 2: Wind speeds between 111 and 135 mph, leading to roofs torn off, mobile homes destroyed, and trees uprooted
- EF 3: Wind speeds between 136 and 165 mph, leading to roofs and walls completely torn off, the majority of trees uprooted, and trains overturned
- EF 4: Wind speeds between 166 and 200 mph, leading to well-constructed houses destroyed and structures with weak foundations blown away
- EF 5: Wind speeds greater than 200 mph, leading to most structures being severely damaged or destroyed
Any of these tornadoes can lead to property damage that is costly to repair or replace.
Vandalism is the deliberate destruction of or damage to private property. This can happen to your home, business, and even your vehicle. Examples of property damage due to criminal mischief include:
- Graffiti, tagging, or spraying paint on the property
- Breaking windows
- Cutting trees without permission
- Knocking over a mailbox or sign
This list is just the beginning. Any malicious and intentional act that defaces, destroys, or damages another’s property without permission is considered vandalism.
How Does A Property Damage Claim Work?
If you've been affected by a natural disaster or willful property damage, there are ways to recover financially.
First, contact your insurance company to formally file a claim. From there, a claims adjuster will begin working on your case. This individual conducts a review of your case by speaking with you and inspecting the property in question. Once the investigation is complete, the adjuster will determine how much the insurance company owes you.
Unfortunately, many insurance companies pay less than what is needed to actually repair your home or even deny claims through loopholes, obscure terms, and unclear language buried in the fine print. By paying less than what you are owed or denying claims, insurance companies stand to profit. In our experience at Huber Thomas & Marcelle, we have even seen insurance companies intentionally delay claims. They do this in hopes that policyholders will eventually give up or accept less than the full coverage amount.
If any of this sounds like something you’re experiencing, it’s important to call a Louisiana property damage lawyer. Whether you’re dealing with a claim for your home or business, it’s important to have an advocate on your side. The attorneys at Huber Thomas & Marcelle know the complexities of property damage law, and what rights you're entitled to, which can give you an edge when dealing with an insurance company.
Our Approach at Huber Thomas & Marcelle
When the worst happens, policyholders should have peace of mind knowing their insurance company will follow through on their agreements. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case.
At Huber Thomas & Marcelle, we believe that insurance companies should be held to their word. We start by fully reviewing your claims and property damage. Our team works in a collaborative spirit, asking for guidance from others who have dealt with similar matters, such as obtaining the expertise of experienced property damage inspectors personally fighting for you. Our collaborative approach allows you to benefit from multiple viewpoints and areas of expertise. While 95% of cases settle outside of court, we still prepare for every single case as if it's going to trial. This involves extensive research, expert witnesses, and cutting-edge technology to recreate any accident conditions.
This approach gives us more knowledge and power at the negotiating table with yours or another party's insurance company. If the insurance company knows that your legal team is willing and ready to take a case to court, they'll be more likely to propose a fair settlement agreement. Plus, if the case does go to court, we're already prepared.
Our Courtroom Successes
Through our handling of thousands of property damage claims throughout the United States, we have often seen insurance companies act in bad faith. Fortunately, every Louisiana property damage attorney on our team knows how to effectively litigate against these companies. Our goal is to recover what is rightfully owed to you.
We bring decades of combined experience to the negotiating table, and if necessary, to the courtroom. Our attorneys at Huber Thomas & Marcelle have a proven track record for property damage litigation, especially concerning hurricanes in the Gulf South. Following Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav (and the tornadoes associated with these storms), we successfully handled breach of contract cases against insurance companies that failed to pay their policyholders fairly.
We have handled thousands of property damage claims, including successful jury trials and settlements in excess of $50 million. In one case, attorneys at Huber Thomas & Marcelle secured a $26.2 million settlement for Louisiana business owners. This helped the owners of a local high-rise office building recover after extensive hurricane damage. In another case, a Gulf South hurricane wreaked havoc on one business owner’s retail center. Our attorneys brought a case against the insurance company to court, resulting in a $4 million jury verdict.
To learn more about our courtroom successes, we invite you to review our case victories.
We're Here to Help
At Huber Thomas & Marcelle, we understand that property damage can have a devastating effect on your family or business. With this in mind, we're tireless advocates for you during every step of the process. We represent clients in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and nationwide. No matter where you are, our team can assist in getting you the compensation you are entitled to after a property damage event.