Storm and hurricane damage

Homeowner’s insurance; you pay it every month and it has offered peace of mind, just like your insurance rep said it would. But, when it comes time for the insurance company to pay for your claims, that peace of mind can quickly disappear.

That’s where Schlacter Law comes in. We understand that you’ve already weathered the storm and that a whole new battle is not something that you need right now. We’re ready to stand with you for every need that will come after the storm. Let Schlacter Law take on the insurance companies for you!

If your insurance company has underpaid or is refusing to pay your claim, Miami attorney Brett L. Schlacter will take on your case and ensure that every penny you are owed is paid in full.

Contact Schlacter Law today for a free, no obligation case review and property inspection. There is no financial commitment needed upfront. We get paid when you win! Remember – Fight Back Call Schlac™.

HURRICANE DORIAN POTENTIAL IMPACT

STORM CHECKLIST:

  • Know your insurance policy and what your insurance company’s commitments and responsibilities are.
  • Take photos before the storm and after of any and all damage.
  • If you embark on repairs, take photos of all repairs after they are complete.
  • Save all receipts.
  • Secure a property claims attorney.
  • Beware of individuals who solicit you after a storm.

HOW DO ATTORNEYS HELP AFTER DISASTERS?

Without a lawyer skilled in hurricane damage, it can be difficult for the average policyholder to know whether their property’s hurricane damage should or should not be covered. A hurricane damage law firm can help you navigate the claims process and hold insurance companies accountable. A civil litigation attorney can help their client dispute claim denials or fight for a client who feels they were misled about their coverage when they purchased their insurance policy.

After a large hurricane, like Dorian, the insurance company will send out a representative adjuster to assess the damage.  Often times there may not be enough claims adjusters to go around, which means temporary or out-of-state adjusters are brought in to pick up the slack. These claims adjusters aren’t always thoroughly trained or familiar with the types of damage hurricanes can cause, which sometimes results in policyholders getting shortchanged on their insurance claim settlement offer.

Schlacter Law is not only well adept at navigating property damage lawsuits and claims, but is also incredibly skilled at the property inspection process. Schlacter Law is the perfect partner to have by your side throughout the property damage claims process that comes after the hurricane.

Especially since hurricanes, tropical storms, and tropical depressions can vary greatly in size and scale, as well as the amount and types of damage they can cause.

Hurricanes can achieve incredibly high wind speeds and produce over 2 trillion gallons of water in the form of rain over the life of the storm.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the traditional hurricane season for the Atlantic Ocean peaks in the middle of August and lasts through late October. On average, up to six hurricanes form each year, with numerous other tropical storms, depressions, and unnamed storms.

The word ‘hurricane’ stems from the Spanish word, huracán, used to describe the weather gods and evil spirits. The storms were so named because of their power to sink large ships. The term ‘hurricane’ is used to describe storms which develop in the Atlantic Ocean or in the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean. In the northern Indian Ocean these same storms are referred to as cyclones and as typhoons in the western Pacific Ocean.

To reach hurricane status, a tropical storm’s wind gusts must reach over 74 miles per hour. With wind speeds reaching at least 38 miles per hour, a tropical depression is formed, followed by a tropical storm. When the speed of the winds increases to the necessary 74 mph, the storm is upgraded to a hurricane.

These storms are formed when storm systems hover over warm ocean waters. The warm energy from the water feeds the system, drawing the moist ocean air upwards and producing condensation through severe thunderstorms. As a hurricane’s winds spiral around within the storm, they push water into a mound at the storm’s center. This mound of water becomes dangerous when the storm reaches land because it causes flooding along the coast. A hurricane will cause more storm surge in areas where the ocean floor slopes gradually.

Hurricanes are categorized by the speed of their sustained winds. There are five hurricane category classifications, as measured by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. These categories include:

Category One wind speeds of 74-95 miles per hour, capable of producing

dangerous winds causing damage to a building’s exterior, trees, and power lines.  Hurricane Earl hit Mexico as a Category 1 hurricane in 2016, the strongest storm to hit Mexico since 2005’s hurricane Stan.

Category Two wind speeds of 96-110 miles per hour, capable of causing extensive damage to a building’s structure, uprooting trees, and damaging vehicles and other items exposed to the weather. Hurricane Katia was the sixth named storm of an usually active 2017 season. It came ashore on Mexico’s eastern coast as a category 2 hurricane.

Category Three – wind speeds of 111-129 miles per hour capable of causing devastating damage to buildings, trees, roads, and power lines. Hurricane Wilma impacted Florida as a Category 3 storm in 2005.

Category Four – wind speeds of 130-156 miles per hour, capable of causing catastrophic damage to buildings, bridges, roadways, trees, and power, with great potential for long-term power and utility loss in affected areas. Hurricane Irma came struck Florida as a category 4 storm in 2017.

Category Five – wind speeds upwards of 157 miles per hour, capable of causing catastrophic damage to the affected area, with potential for total building collapse, severe damage to property, and devastation to entire communities, leaving them uninhabitable for months or years. Hurricane Michael struck Florida in 2018 as a category 5 storm.

There are several elements of a hurricane which cause destruction, chaos, injury, and even death. The hurricane category often provides insight into what will occur. Lower category storms should not be taken lightly and those affected should always be prepared for the worst-case scenario. With regards to higher-classed hurricane categories, evacuations are often declared mandatory to prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths.

Some of the more dangerous elements of a hurricane are:

THE STORM SURGE

Hurricanes can affect an area even before making landfall. The severe storms produce significant amounts of rain and the high winds kick up the ocean, producing a storm surge, which can often reach 20 feet high and 100 miles across. Storm surges affect a large number of people living along the coast and are typically the number one cause of death during a hurricane. The ocean waters rise due to the rain and winds, forcing the water over their traditional banks. The high winds continue to push the water inland, causing fast-moving floods and inescapable rip currents.

The quick-moving flood waters trap people in their homes and often lead to drowning. Floods destroy entire communities, causing catastrophic damage to buildings, vehicles, and property in a short period of time. Flood waters are contaminated by sewage and other pollutants, posing health risks to human life and pets.

THE THUNDERSTORMS

Hurricanes produce severe thunderstorms, capable of deadly lightning strikes and even tornadoes. Lightning strikes to buildings and other objects can result in fires. Tornadoes cause their own path of destruction, demolishing anything standing in their way. Severe rain leads to inland flooding, landslides, and very costly region-wide damage.

HIGH WINDS

Tornadic or hurricane-force winds can pick up and move very heavy objects (cars, building materials, trees) and project them into the air, causing the potential for severe human injuries and death. Winds will destroy power lines, fuel supplies, and other vital necessities, making recovery that much harder.

The dangers after a hurricane has passed are just as significant, if not moreso, than the actual storm. Recovering from a hurricane is no easy task. Months and years may be needed to restore normalcy in the hardest hit areas. In the aftermath of a hurricane, personal safety must be a number one priority.

Flood waters are often contaminated with all kinds of pollutants (gas, oils, sewage), which can cause severe health risks. Protective gear should be worn during clean up to protect breathing and skin.

Hurricane-force winds can demolish parts of buildings, leaving unreliable structures and debris everywhere. During cleanup, injuries and death occur when buildings collapse or people fall over debris. Roadways and bridges are damaged by floodwaters and can lead to automobile accidents.

While people do stock up on supplies before a storm, they often lack the foresight to plan for after the storm. Lack of clean water, food, and habitable shelter are often issues that lead to illness and stress-related diseases.

Damage to power lines and other utilities can lead to life without power for weeks or even months in the most heavily damaged areas. Without access to phones, gas, and electricity, people feel isolated and are often unable to receive outside help for long periods of time. Without refrigeration or an effective way to heat meals, people may suffer from malnutrition, lack of energy, and illness due to lack of edible food and proper nutrition. People may also suffer food-borne diseases after eating spoiled foods or drinking dirty water.

Even after the storm has passed, streams and rivers continue to rise and flood their banks. Downed power lines electrify the waters and can lead to electrocution deaths. The contaminated waters halt restoration and recovery efforts and make travel difficult, if not impossible.

For the groups of people living in shelters in the aftermath of a hurricane, the CDC warns about the spread of infectious diseases. After hurricanes, there can be outbreaks of contagious diseases especially for those with already compromised immune systems (children, pregnant women, and the elderly).

While the power of a hurricane can be unpredictable, history can show us how long-lasting the aftereffects of a hurricane can be. It took the Gulf Coast years to recover from Hurricane Katrina, with rebuilding efforts still ongoing over a decade after landfall.

Preparation before a hurricane is the most important part of the process. Ultimately, evacuation is the preferred method of avoiding personal risk during a hurricane. Replacing a home and personal property is much more plausible than replacing a life.

COMMITTED TO MEETING YOUR LEGAL NEEDS

At Schlacter Law, our Miami property claims attorney has guided numerous clients through the Florida legal system. If your property has suffered damage, we can help you file a first party property claim with your insurance company. Our legal team has the experience necessary to guide you through the process.

Contact us today to discuss your case with our legal advocate.

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