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We know how personal, business, and property damage can disrupt your world. You suddenly have to handle the physical, emotional, mental, and financial stressors resulting from the incidentAnd, if you were wronged or harmed by another party, there may be legal ramifications to sort through.

Finding an attorney to be in your corner is valuable, as long as they are the right advocate for you. If you don’t know where or how to begin, follow our 10 steps below. We at Huber Thomas Law want to help simplify this overwhelming process for you.

1. Determine if it’s the right time to hire an attorney. 

Hiring an attorney for your case.

If you have recently been harmed by the negligence or carelessness of another, it may be time to seek the support of an attorney. It’s important to begin the process of hiring an attorney as soon as possible, giving your legal team ample time to protect your best interests.

When the following events occur, be sure to get your search started immediately.  

  • Physical injury due to negligence, including vehicle accidents or slip and fall 
  • Wrongful actions against your business 
  • Injury due to a product’s design, manufacturing, or label defect 
  • Property damage following a natural disaster 

2. Decide what type of attorney you need. 

Many attorneys specialize in a specific type of law, whether through a certification or a long history in a specific practice area. Deep knowledge and experience set clients up for better case success. There are many attorney specialties, including estate planning, intellectual property, and personal injury, to name a few. Below are a few specific cases and the type of attorney needed for each. 

Physical Injury Due to Negligence 

If you were injured in an automobile, rideshare, trucking, motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian, or boating accident, you need a personal injury attorney. You will also need to seek a personal injury attorney if you’ve experienced a slip and fall on someone else’s property. 

Wrongful Actions Against Your Business 

If you and your business have been financially harmed through the negligent or fraudulent acts of an individual or another business, you must hire an attorney who deals with business torts. These actions could include contract interference, restraint of trade, theft of trade secrets, misrepresentation, trade libel, or defamation.  

Injury Due to a Product’s Design, Manufacturing, or Label Defect 

When a product has caused you harm, you must hire a product liability attorney quickly. Injury caused by a product could be due to a design, manufacturing, or label defect. A product liability attorney will help you navigate the complexities of these cases and hold companies accountable for any damage.  

Property Damage Following a Natural Disaster 

In the Gulf South, we are all too familiar with the profound losses natural disasters can cause. There are ways to recover if you have a property damage attorney in your corner. A property damage attorney can help you navigate insurance claims after the flood, hurricane, fire, and tornado damage. Hiring a property damage attorney can also be advantageous in the event of willful damage, including graffiti and arson.  

3. Research attorneys in New Orleans.

Once you understand what type of attorney you need, it’s time to do your due diligence before hiring one. By searching “personal injury attorneys near me” or “property damage attorney New Orleans” online via Google, you’ll find listings and websites that match your search. Take a glimpse at the websites of the firms and attorneys listed to get an idea of whether they match the type of assistance you need.

4. Evaluate attorney experience. 

Many attorneys and firms include their “resumé” of experience on their websites. However, experience is about more than where the attorneys went to law school. Review each firm's history and success stories to get an idea of their level of experience in your specific area of need.

5. Read attorney reviews and ask around.

A firm’s reputation is an important factor to consider when choosing an attorney to hire. By asking personal connections, such as family and friends, and reading online reviews, you can get a good idea of their trustworthiness, integrity, and success rate. Community reviews can be found in places like Facebook business pages and Google listings.  

6. Schedule more than one attorney consultation.

To be your best advocate, and find the best advocate for you, scheduling more than one consultation with a list of attorneys is key. This is a time when you can ask your potential attorney all of your most pressing questions before hiring them. Many firms provide free consultations for this reason, allowing potential clients to fully evaluate their firm’s approach, fee structure, and compatibility. 

7. Prepare a list of questions to ask each attorney.

Before your consultations, prepare a list of questions that you would like to ask each attorney. Asking each firm the same set of questions will give you an idea of their comfortability with your type of case, compatibility with you as a client, and communication style in educating you about your case. Common questions include:  

  • What is your experience with my type of case? 
  • How many cases have you handled in [insert type of law]? 
  • What have been some of your case outcomes? 
  • What is your typical approach or process? 
  • Do you have trial experience? 
  • Can you send me references from past clients? 
  • What is your current assessment of my case? 
  • How will you keep me updated on my case? 
  • What outcome do you expect for my case? 
  • When do you expect this case to be resolved? 
  • What is your fee structure? 
  • Are there any additional costs I should be mindful of? 

No question is off the table when it comes to finding the right attorney for you. A trustworthy attorney will want to make sure you are equipped with knowledge regarding your case.

8. Compare attorney fee structures and affordability.

Financial affordability should be considered before hiring an attorney. Fee structures differ depending on the attorney or firm. Some may charge a flat fee or by the hour, and some will charge a fee based on a percentage of the winnings in your case.  

Payment By the Hour 

Some attorneys charge their clients based on the number of hours worked. These hours accumulate through client meetings, case research, document drafting and reviewing, and time spent in court. The hours spent on these activities will then be multiplied by the attorney’s hourly rate and billed to you on a predetermined schedule. Some attorneys may even charge a retainer fee that can be withdrawn as they bill you for services.  

When working with an attorney who has an hourly fee, be sure to review the itemized bill carefully for any discrepancies. This bill will contain a total of the hours spent, a description of the work done, and the hourly rate charge.   

Payment Through Flat Fee 

For uncomplicated matters, some attorneys charge a flat fee. This flat fee will cover the service and the specific activities it requires, no matter how long the case takes. You’ll receive an agreement with all service and flat fee details and be expected to pay this flat fee upfront. You will not be charged additional fees unless you request additional services, the scope of work shifts, or unexpected issues arise. In the event of these circumstances, your attorney will revise the agreement and require your approval before pursuing additional services. 

Payment Through Contingency  

Of all fee structures, contingency is the most cost-effective for the client. The attorney will not charge you an hourly or flat fee, but they will charge you based on the case outcome. This means your attorney will only get paid if they are successful in recovering money for you. If the case is not successful, you are not responsible for paying your attorney. 

Typical contingency fees are 33.33-40% of recovered compensation and will be agreed upon before the work begins. Your contract will outline all of the contingency terms, including how the attorney fee is calculated and any additional expenses that may be deducted. These additional expenses may include fees for depositions, witnesses, or filing. Please note that a contingency fee is not permissible in every type of case. 

9. Choose the attorney that is the most compatible.

If you’ve found attorneys who have the right specialty, experience, reputation, and fee structure, but still can’t decide whom to choose, go with your gut. Ask yourself if the attorney made you feel seen, heard, and reassured. Their resumé and reputation mean nothing if they cannot treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve. An attorney who is truly in your corner will be a fierce advocate who listens to your needs.  

10. Understand your Representation Agreement. 

When you’ve made your choice, be sure to fully understand the agreement between you and your attorney. All of the terms of your relationship will be documented in an easy-to-understand, one-page contract, your Representation Agreement, that will outline all of these topics. 

Scope of Work 

Your engagement letter will detail the services your attorney will provide and stipulate any services or activities that may be deemed “out of scope.” 

Payment Terms 

Whether hourly, flat, or based on contingency, your attorney’s fee structure, including hourly rates and/or contingency percentages, will be outlined in the engagement letter. The payment schedule will also be outlined and agreed upon. 

Client Responsibilities 

Your engagement letter will also express what is expected of you in working toward a successful case. You will be required to cooperate fully, including supplying documents and information that will support your case. 

Confidentiality Statement 

Your attorney should reassure you that your case will be kept confidential. However, there may be cases in which information must be disclosed. The parameters regarding case confidentiality will be detailed in the engagement letter. 

Termination of Contract 

If either party needs to end the case, a termination clause will outline guidance for doing so. This clause will specify how the contract may be terminated and the fees associated with termination.  

Add Huber Thomas to Your Attorney Search

The process of finding an experienced attorney you can trust can be overwhelming. At Huber Thomas Law, we want potential and current clients to be equipped with knowledge and confidence. This sense of trust is how we’ve recovered millions of dollars for our clients within our practice specialties:  

  • Personal Injury 
  • Business Torts 
  • Products Liability  
  • Property Damage 

We take the stress off of you through clear communication, informed guidance, swift action, and personal attention. Contact Huber Thomas Law when you’re ready to work with a tireless advocate for your case.  

Living in the Gulf South brings enormous benefits, but it comes with its challenges, too. Dangerous tornadoes, sweeping fires, and hurricanes are just a few of the natural disasters that can cause various types of property damage claims – not to mention criminal destruction of property.

As a homeowner, you pay your insurance premium each month with the understanding that if the unthinkable happens, your insurance company will be there for you. Unfortunately, it is often not that simple.

If you’ve tried to read through your insurance policy, you likely came away more confused than before you started. Full of legal jargon and confusing language, these contracts are not written for the layperson to understand.

That’s where Huber Thomas Law comes in. We can help you through the process of filing an insurance claim with a singular goal: getting you the compensation you are owed. We know this can be a confusing topic, and we are here to answer your questions so you can get through this difficult time and start rebuilding as soon as possible. Here are 5 things to know about property damage claims.

If you’re ready for a free legal consultation or have further questions about handling various types of property damage claims, contact Huber Thomas Law at (504) 274-2500.



Willful Damage

According to Louisiana law, willful damage to property refers to “the simple criminal damage to property is the intentional damaging of any property of another, without the consent of the owner.” This includes vandalism and malicious disruption affecting your home, business, or vehicle.

What are the common examples of willful damage?

Common examples of willful damage include:

  • Damage to windows
  • Broken exterior lights
  • Cutting or damage to trees, bushes, and other landscaping
  • Graffiti
  • Arson
  • Knocking down mailboxes, signs, and other property

Does my homeowner’s insurance cover willful damage to my home?

Homeowner’s insurance should cover this type of damage, but you will need to read your policy to determine your specific coverage. In most cases, homeowner’s insurance will cover the cost of repairs or replacement of the damaged or destroyed property.

Does my auto insurance cover willful damage to my vehicle?

It depends on your insurance policy. If you have full coverage, then it is likely that willful damage to your vehicle is covered.

Tornado Damage

According to the Insurance Information Institute, insured losses from tornadoes top about $17 billion in the average year. Even a relatively weak EF0 tornado, which reaches maximum wind speeds of 85 miles per hour, can result in downed trees and other property damage. The most serious tornado, an EF5, has wind speeds of greater than 200 miles per hour and will destroy nearly every building in its wake.

Is the tornado damage to my home or vehicle covered by my insurance policy?

Your homeowner’s policy should cover tornado damage. Unfortunately, that does not mean that your insurance company will simply hand over a check for 100% of the cost of repairs and replacement. You may have to fight to get a speedy and fair payout.

If your vehicle is damaged in a tornado, it might be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy if it was being kept in a garage at the time it was damaged or destroyed. Otherwise, your auto insurance policy might cover damage, depending on the level of coverage you elected to purchase.

Is debris removal included in my insurance policy?

Most homeowners’ policies will pay “reasonable expenses” for debris removal of your covered property. This would include removing damaged shingles, siding, etc. While there is likely no compensation for lost trees or bushes, your policy likely covers “reasonable expenses” to remove critically damaged trees and bushes from your property.

Fire Damage

Fire damage in your home or business can be caused by everything from arson to downed power lines. In 2021, there was nearly $16 billion of direct property damage in the United States. This does not include the significant costs of secondary property damage from the smoke itself, or from the water or chemicals used to put out the fire.

Is fire damage included in my homeowner’s policy?

Fire damage is standard in most homeowners’ insurance policies. However, there might be exceptions for certain types of fires or for a homeowner’s actions that the insurance company claims led to the fire. You can purchase separate or additional coverage if you live in an area at high risk for fire.

What are the most common causes of fire damage?

Many things can cause fire damage in a home. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Poor electrical work
  • Lightning strike
  • Overloaded electrical systems
  • Ovens and other appliances
  • Grills
  • Furnaces
  • Defective washing machines

Should I clean up the fire damage as soon as possible?

Many homeowners want to get back to a sense of normalcy as soon as possible and want to clean up the debris immediately. Remember that there could be evidence your attorney needs to prove your claim. Before removing anything, get written confirmation from your insurance company that they have fully inspected the site. Talk to an attorney if you are not sure.

What Do I Do if I Have One of the Abovementioned Types of Property Damage Claims?

The first step is to contact your insurance company and file a claim. The insurance company will then assign an adjuster to your case, who will start working on it. They will talk to you directly and inspect the property you are making a claim for. When they have completed their inspection, they will decide how much the insurance company is going to pay you

What Do I Do if My Property Insurance Claim is Denied?

In the unfortunate event that your insurance provider denies your claim, you should make sure you get the denial in writing. Then contact a Louisiana property damage attorney for help.

What Do I Do if the Insurance Adjuster Offers Less Than the Actual Cost of Repair?

Insurance companies often give the impression that you have no choice but to accept their offer. This is not necessarily true. If you do not believe that what they are offering is fair, you have the legal right to obtain fair compensation.

Why Isn’t the Insurance Company Offering Me Fair Payment for My Property Damage Claim?

Remember that the insurance adjuster works for the insurance company – not you. Insurance companies make money by taking in more money in policy premiums than they pay out in claims. Their goal is to pay as little as possible without triggering a lawsuit.

It is Taking My Insurance Company Forever to Pay Out My Property Damage Claim – Is There Anything I Can Do?

At Huber Thomas Law, we have seen insurance companies delay claims in the hope that the insured will either give up on collecting their claim or be willing to accept less than their claim is worth to get the process over with. Do not fall for this tactic – contact a property damage attorney instead.

What is Additional Living Expenses (ALE) Coverage?

Most homeowners, renters, and condo insurance policies will include additional living expense (ALE) coverage. It is designed to pay for extra expenses a homeowner faces if they are unable to live in their home due to a covered insurance claim.

What expenses does ALE cover?

ALE aims to bridge the gap between what your typical household expenses would have been if your property had not been damaged, and the additional expenses you incur due to the damage. It can cover things like:

  • Hotels or rent for other temporary housing
  • Additional food costs related to not having a kitchen (i.e., the cost of eating in restaurants)
  • Paying for laundry services
  • Boarding your pets
  • Replacing your clothing
  • Storage costs
  • Renting furniture

Renters insurance and condo insurance also typically have additional living expenses insurance.

What are the limits for ALE?

It depends on your specific policy, but generally, it will not be higher than 20% of your dwelling coverage. For example, a 20% ALE limit on a home insured for $200,000 would be $40,000. This coverage aims to keep you at your “normal standard of living.” What this means could be negotiated between you and your insurer.

There might be time limits to your ALE coverage as well. Your insurance policy’s declarations page will outline the specifics of your ALE coverage.

What happens if my home is only partially damaged?

If you suffered damage from a hurricane or have other types of property damage claims in which it is not obvious that your home is uninhabitable, your insurance provider might claim that ALE coverage does not apply as you can live in your home.

Your property damage attorney can help you win a claim for ALE coverage in the event of such a denial.

Is There a Deadline to File a Lawsuit for Louisiana Property Damage Claims?

Yes. You do not have an unlimited amount of time to decide what your next step is. The statute of limitations on property damage claims in Louisiana is generally two years from the date the damage occurred. This is just one of the reasons to talk to a successful property damage attorney as soon as possible.

How Can an Attorney Help with Different Types of Property Damage Claims?

When you contact Huber Thomas Law, we will begin by reviewing your claim and the damage to your property. Our next steps will depend on the specifics of your case but could include the following:

  • Working with expert witnesses
  • Using cutting-edge technology to recreate the conditions of the cause of the damage
  • Extensive research to build a strong claim on your behalf

More than nine out of ten cases will settle out of court, but we prepare for every case as though it is going to trial. This shows the insurance company that we are serious about recovering the maximum compensation we can. It also ensures that we can take your case to trial to get a fair outcome if required.

Call Today for Help with These and Other Types of Property Damage Claims

The above covers three of the many types of property damage claims you might face. At Huber Thomas Law, we can help with other insurance claims, including those related to hurricane damage including the most recent Hurricane Ida which made landfall in 2021. If you are ready to hold your insurance company accountable and get help recovering the maximum compensation you are eligible for, contact us today for a free legal consultation.

From dangerous hurricanes to tropical storms, the Gulf South often bears the brunt of natural disasters. The result is destruction that affects homes, businesses, and major resources. These losses underscore the importance of having a comprehensive insurance policy that includes coverage for property damage.

property damage claims

Unfortunately, insurance jargon can be difficult to comb through, especially after disaster strikes. At Huber Thomas Law, we know how to handle property damage claims, and we can walk you through the process. Here’s what you should know about your rights and securing the compensation you’re owed.

What Is Considered Property Damage?

Property damage is defined as an injury to real or personal property. Real property is land and anything permanently attached to it, such as a house. Fortunately, property owners can obtain insurance to protect against the risks associated with these damages. Here are some of the most common types of property damage claims, especially in Louisiana and the surrounding states.

Hurricane damage

Hurricanes are perhaps the largest weather threat in Louisiana, as well as the entire Gulf South region. Driving rain and high winds come together to create catastrophic damage. Hurricane Laura, the most recent hurricane to date, destroyed more than 500,000 homes and businesses. From roofs torn off buildings to electrical fires, these weather events have deadly and disastrous potential.

Flood damage

It only takes an inch of floodwater to cause more than $25,000 in damage. Whether it’s carpet or hardwood, homes and businesses simply can’t withstand that type of moisture. The end result can be any or all of the following:

  • Roof issues, destroyed flooring, and foundation cracks
  • Mold and mildew on flooring, drywall, insulation, and belongings
  • Damaged kitchen appliances
  • Septic and well water clogs due to excess water and debris
  • Damage to electrical wiring

Unfortunately, many homeowners' insurance policies don’t include flood damage. This coverage is provided through a separate policy.

Fire damage

Fires can happen in the blink of an eye. Space heaters and cooking mishaps make them a possibility anywhere. Downed power lines and wildfires are other causes that are commonly cited in property damage claims.

Fire-related property damage examples are broken into two categories. The first is primary damage due to the flames, but secondary damage often occurs due to smoke and the water used to put out the fire.

Tornado damage

Louisiana and other nearby states ranked among the top 10 states that fell victim to tornadoes in 2021. The high winds associated with a tornado can damage buildings, or even level them. Even the lowest-ranked tornado, an EF 0 sustains winds of up to 85 mph. This can lead to broken branches and downed trees that fall onto homes, causing significant property damage.

Willful damage

Vandalism is another aspect of property damage law that is difficult to deal with. Whether it’s your home or business, deliberate destruction is costly. Any intentional act to destroy or damage your property is unacceptable.

Examples include:

  • Broken windows
  • Arson
  • Cutting down trees without permission
  • Graffiti or tagging
  • Mailbox or signage tampering

The Property Damage Insurance Claims Process: 5 Things To Know

Damage to your home or business is devastating. To make matters worse, many insurance companies make the property damage claims process frustrating. It seems they’ll do everything they can to avoid paying out a fair settlement. In these cases, knowledge is power. Here are 5 important things to know about how to handle property damage claims.

1. You must report the incident as soon as possible

Property damage claims generally take time. From that first call to receiving a payout, it can be weeks or even months. Nonetheless, it’s essential to get in touch with your insurance company as soon as you’ve assessed the damage. Your policy may actually provide guidance regarding how much time you have.

This first phone call doesn’t have to be lengthy. In most cases, you’ll simply provide information that helps the employee locate your policy, and answer questions about what happened. You’ll also provide details about the damage and how extensive it is. From there, the company will most likely assign an employee to your case and have that individual touch base at a later date.

As always, be open and honest about the property damage and what caused it.

2. It’s important to document everything

After you’ve contacted your insurance company, take photos and thoroughly document the damage. Be sure to get clear photos from different angles. A video is also helpful in certain situations. Keep a log of the property damage, how it appears, and how it changes (if at all) as the days go on.

If you’re reading this before you’re in the midst of property damage claims, it’s a good time to do a value assessment of your home. If you’ve recently invested in a renovation or have acquired high-value items since you first purchased insurance, be sure to update your policy. This will help you secure the compensation you need in the event of a disaster.

3. Your adjuster is an important piece of the puzzle

Once you’ve filed a claim, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case. This individual likely has experience assessing many different types of property damage claims, including ones similar to yours. This person will investigate the damage, negotiate the coverage you receive, and hopefully resolve the claim.

While adjusters are sympathetic to what you’re going through, it’s important to remember that they work for your insurance company. Try to foster a cordial relationship with this person. Do your best to remain professional and courteous, even when you disagree with certain conclusions.

As always, dealing with adjusters and other insurance representatives can be draining. This is why it’s ideal to have a property damage lawyer in your corner.

4. Major local disasters may result in a different process

When a major disaster hits an entire geographical region, the process of securing insurance money can be different.

For one, there may be public adjusters offering to assess your property damage. These individuals work for policyholders, rather than insurance companies. However, it’s important to know that there are fees associated with using a public adjuster.

Further, in the event that your damages exceed the amount of coverage you receive, federal agencies may provide grants or low-interest loans. These are designed to aid in recovery efforts after a major disaster.

Again, a skilled property damage attorney is your best bet for navigating after a major local disaster.

5. An experienced property damage attorney can help

Property damage claims should be simple and straightforward. You pay your insurance premium with the expectation that your insurance company will cover costs when you need it the most. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. After decades of experience navigating property damage law, we’ve been disappointed to see many insurance companies act in bad faith.

Hiring a property damage attorney is beneficial for many reasons. Consider the following:

  • Your attorney will handle all communication with the insurance company, which means you won’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing.
  • A lawyer may enlist experts from a range of different industries to build a strong case regarding your losses.

Here are some examples of common types of property damage claims.

In the event that negotiations aren’t successful, your lawyer can represent you in court with full knowledge of prior events and correspondence.

Huber Thomas Law: Your Property Damage Attorneys

At Huber Thomas Law, we believe in holding insurance providers accountable. We will thoroughly review your property damage claims, pinpointing exactly what you’re entitled to. We lean on guidance from the attorneys within our own team, as well as the expertise of property damage inspectors. This approach allows us to build a winning case that will help us secure the money you need to repair or replace your property.

Our courtroom success stories

The team at Huber Thomas Law has decades of combined experience in the courtroom. We are diligent and unrelenting when it comes to pursuing fair settlements for our clients. Simply put, our previous case victories speak for themselves. Highlights related to property damage law include:

  • $26.2 million settlement for owners of a Louisiana high-rise office building that suffered extensive hurricane damage
  • $4 million in a jury verdict for a retail center owner after another Gulf South hurricane
  • More than $15 million in settlements for Hurricane Laura and Delta homeowners

To read through more of our success stories in a range of different practice areas, we invite you to review our case victories.

Don’t let property damage devastate your family or business. Huber Thomas Law will serve as your tireless advocate every step of the way. We represent clients in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and across the nation. Schedule a complimentary consultation today.