Hurricanes always leave destruction in their path and have been a part of U.S. citizens’ lives since the moment they settled. Hurricane Ian also did a number on Florida recently, displacing many people from their homes after they have been destroyed.
While hurricanes have a destructive nature, they are not always to blame for potential damage. Harm may be caused by a dead tree that was not cut when it should have been. Or maybe the maintenance job on the house was done poorly.
If you sustain damage that cannot be necessarily blamed on the hurricane, you may file a lawsuit. Here are the steps you have to go through:
- Cover Up the Damaged Area
If you suffer damage from a hurricane on your property, you must cover it up as soon as possible. This will prevent the water from getting any further into your house, damaging your property even more.
If you fail to do this, the insurance company may hold you accountable. They may say that you did not take the proper steps, aiming for a fraudulent insurance claim. As a result, they may undervalue or completely deny your claim.
- Gather Proof
Your insurance company must see proof of everything: documents, pictures, and everything that may prove relevant. For instance, if a dead tree from your neighbors was pulled out from its root and driven through your roof, you may want to get some witness reports. If the tree was left there out of negligence, you may file a lawsuit against them.
Maintenance documents can also be helpful. For example, if your home was supposedly reinforced recently, you may file for negligence against the company. Bring copies of the documents that show the date and the services provided.
Also, make sure to take pictures of everything. Start with the exterior of your home, taking in every side. After that, snap many pictures of the roof and the yard. If you had indoor damage that could not have been avoided, you should take pictures of that as well.
- File an Insurance Claim
Now that you gathered all of your necessary documents, it is time to get to business. Remember that there are specific deadlines you need to respect when it comes to hurricane damage. A regular lawsuit often allows for a two-year statute of limitations, but for hurricanes, you have less.
When Hurricane Ida took place, citizens had only 180 days to file an insurance claim. The window may be extended in certain circumstances, but you still have to notify your insurance company. Even if you cannot gather the documents and file them by then, they should be aware of your intentions.
It’s important to act as fast as possible. If you postpone the insurance claim, it may suggest that the damage was not enough to be significant. Moreover, if you wait too long, the insurance company may refute that the damage was caused post-hurricane. The sooner you file, the stronger the proof will be.
- Make Notes of the Conversation
As you deal with your insurance company, you must keep a proper record of everything that involves your claim. Make a note of the date and time of your compensation, how much you were offered, as well as the person you talked with at the insurance company.
If you are filing a lawsuit against someone, you should keep a record of your discussions with them. There is a saying in the law world: anything they say can and will be used against them. Lawsuits are no exception. If they say something that helps your case, you may use that information.
- Hire a Lawyer
When filing a hurricane damage lawsuit, hiring a lawyer is the best way to ensure you get what you are owed. You need to get someone that can address your specific damages. Certain cities such as Salem in Oregon require you to be very selective about the type of lawyer you choose, as each receives a different kind of education and experience.
For example, if only your home was damaged, you may get an insurance lawyer. That being said, if you were also injured in the process, you need to hire Salem personal injury attorneys. They will know exactly how to approach your case.
The Bottom Line
Hurricanes are never fun, especially when they lead to damaged property. To get back what you lost, you need to file a lawsuit and an experienced attorney can help you through the process.