Hurricane Damage Attorney in Fort Lauderdale
Florida is home to some of the most beautiful weather in the United States. With average temperatures around 70 degrees and almost 250 sunny days a year, Fort Lauderdale is the perfect location to live.  Unfortunately, Florida’s weather does not always cooperate, and Florida sees an average of one or two hurricanes each year. 
Some of the most serious hurricanes to ever touch ground in the United States did some of its worst damage in Florida. In 2018, Hurricane Michael was the most recent category 5 hurricane, reaching sustained winds of up to 140 miles per hour, causing sixteen deaths, and $25 billion dollars in property damage.  Even smaller hurricanes can cause extensive damage, requiring expensive repairs that put a burden on property owners.
If your home was damaged during a hurricane, Schlacter Law can help. We regularly work with insurance adjusters and insurance companies and understand how important it is that you get the compensation you need to rebuild. Call our Fort Lauderdale hurricane lawyers today, so we can help get you as much compensation as possible.
Types of Hurricane Damage in Fort Lauderdale
When hurricanes hit the Florida coast, they bring with them torrential rain, powerful winds, and severe flooding. Often the types of damage a property sustains are related to all three. Some common hurricane damage includes:
- Broken windows
- Damaged siding
- Damaged roofing and gutters
- Destruction of personal items
- Mold and mildew damage
- Structural and foundational damage
Broken windows are common following a severe storm. Debris from strong winds can easily carry items such as patio furniture, trash, and other small items through the air and into a window. The Florida Building Code requires that any building within one mile of the coast must use impact-resistant windows to help protect them from damage in a storm.  With storm winds recorded in excess of 140 miles per hour, even impact-resistant windows can fail to hold up during a storm. And even when winds are less, severe items can still damage the glass requiring it to be replaced.
Similar to windows, siding can easily be damaged during a hurricane. Any items flung through the air by strong wind gusts can impact a home’s siding causing damage. The effect could include dents, scratches, and in extreme cases, can even rip some siding off the building entirely. Once a building’s siding is removed the structure is prone to water damage which can develop into more serious issues if repairs aren’t made quickly.
Roofs and gutters are also prone to damage during a storm. Items tossed by the wind can land on a roof and hinder a roof’s ability to keep water out of the home. Additionally, torrential rains can inundate gutters, causing water to overflow and flood foundations and basements. Once this water enters into the property it can create even more serious issues.
Flooding is a serious issue when hurricanes hit Fort Lauderdale. Being right on the coast, large storms often bring tidal surges that can flood roads, garages, basements, and even living spaces. Saltwater can corrode pipes, damaged flooring, and destroy personal items, electronics, and appliances. Additionally, large amounts of rainfall in a short amount of time can also flood streets and basements, and if a home’s gutter system or roof is inadequate to handle the excess water it can find its way into the structure.
Anytime a home has been damaged the contents inside are at risk. This includes electronics, books, clothes, appliances, photographs, important documents, and other personal items a homeowner may have in their home. Collectibles, musical instruments, and other rare items are often irreplaceable or expensive to replace.
Anytime water finds its way into a property there is a risk that mold and mildew can form. Both mold and mildew can cause damage to drywall, wood framing, and personal items. Additionally, mold spores can create a serious health risk to anyone who continues to live on the property. Removing mold and mildew often require expensive professional clean up services that specialize in this type of damage.
Structural and foundational issues can be serious. When flooding finds its way into a property it can erode important soil and destroy basement foundations and concrete walls, causing a home to be unstable. Water damage can also destroy drywall and the wood studs used to build walls and floors. Rotting wood must be replaced to ensure that the building remains stable, often requiring the removal of drywall, insulation, and electrical wiring just to get access to the damaged wood.
With so many types of damage to a home following a hurricane, the costs can be expensive. Making repairs are important to ensure that any damage does not get worse. Our Fort Lauderdale hurricane attorneys can assist with getting you the compensation you need to rebuild. From insurance claims to lawsuits, we will fight hard to help ensure that your home is as good as new.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
Often the first avenue for getting help to pay for repairs is by filing a claim with your insurance company. Insurance for hurricane damage is the most common way to seek compensation since most homeowners carry some form of homeowner’s insurance. Filing a claim is a smart first step in recovering compensation, however, insurance companies are often more concerned with their bottom line than ensuring that you are fully compensated. Following a storm, it is in their best interest to pay out as little compensation as possible. Often there are tactics used by these companies to deny a claim or pay an inadequate amount of compensation. These tactics include:
- Paying too little on a claim
- Claiming the damage existed before the storm
- Claiming some of the repairs are unnecessary
- Claiming the policy did not cover the specific type of damage
- Requiring unnecessary paperwork to slow the process down or deter a claim
- Waiting until important deadlines to deny a claim
One of the most common tactics used by insurance companies is to offer a settlement for the damage that is inadequate to cover the costs of repairs. Insurance companies will hire their own adjusters to survey the damage, estimate the cost of repairs, and come up with what they deem is a fair settlement. It is important not to accept a settlement agreement without first speaking with a hurricane attorney.
Schlacter Law has experience dealing with hurricane claims and knows that it is always a good idea to get an estimate from an independent adjuster who is not working for the insurance companies. This additional estimate can be used to make a counteroffer during the settlement process. Fortunately, the fees for an adjuster can often be paid for by the attorney, ensuring that you would not have to pay any additional fees out of your own pocket. And the attorney’s fees are paid for by the insurance company. This ensures that you keep all of your settlement to use for repairs, not to pay fees.
Denying a claim because it isn’t covered under the policy is another common tactic used to deny a claim following a storm. It is important to read your policy to determine what is and what isn’t covered. Not surprising, often a policy is laden with language that is difficult to understand. This is done intentionally with the hope that you might not be able to determine what obligations the company has. Our experienced Fort Lauderdale hurricane damage lawyers know the common tricks insurers use to try and deny a claim.
It is also important to know important deadlines related to filing a claim. Some carriers require that a claim be made in as little as thirty days to file a claim. Failing to file a claim could result in the company dismissing the claim, leaving you with few options for recovering compensation. Be sure to read your policy for these important deadlines or have Schlacter Law assist you by reading through the policy to ensure that there are no hidden deadlines that are difficult to detect.
Getting compensation following a hurricane should be an easy process. However, insurance companies often attempt to slow down the process to run out any important deadlines or make inadequate settlement offers. We understand how important compensation is in getting your home repaired. Call us for a consultation so we can help get you the money you need today.
- http://www.worldclimate.com/climate/us/florida ↩
- https://www.tripsavvy.com/how-often-do-hurricanes-hit-florida-3266726 ↩
- https://www.npr.org/2019/04/19/715134716/hurricane-michael-was-a-category-5-noaa-finds-the-first-since-andrew-in-1992 ↩
- http://www.floridabuilding.org/fbc/publications/Fact_Sheets_0307/WindowSystems061506revised.pdf ↩
How We Handle Cases
- Your attorney will aggressively investigate your case. Schlacter Law will compile all necessary evidence needed to maximize the value of your case. Which includes but is not limited to photographs, police reports, security camera footage, witness statements, medical bills and medical records.
- You will remain in constant contact with Schlacter Law about the progression of your case.
- Your attorney will present your case to the insurance company and will attempt to resolve your case before the case goes to court for maximum compensation.
- Your attorney will make every effort possible to resolve the case as quickly as possible for the most amount of money you may be entitled to. You will be actively involved in the negotiation process with your attorney. Schlacter Law understands that this is your one opportunity to get justice for your loss.
- If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, Schlacter Law will be fully prepared to bring your case to court to fight for the justice you deserve.
- At no cost to you, Schlacter Law will hire any experts and professionals needed to maximize your recovery and present your case in the strongest form possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much compensation can I expect to receive?
Determining how much compensation you might be able to receive would depend on the amount of damage your property sustained in a hurricane and the extent of your insurance policy coverage. To help calculate the amount of money you may be able to recover, it is important that you speak with a Fort Lauderdale hurricane damage attorney today. We can look over your policy, hire an adjuster, and ensure that you get as much compensation as possible.
Can I negotiate with the insurance company on my own?
While you can certainly work with an insurance carrier without an attorney, a hurricane damage lawyer can help ensure that you get the compensation you deserve. Most insurance companies are looking out for their own best interests, not yours. When offering a settlement to make repairs the amount of compensation is often inadequate. An experienced Fort Lauderdale hurricane damage attorney knows what common issues to look for and will fight hard to help you get as much money as possible.