16 May 2015

Homeowners Property Damage Claims

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By Daniel F. Dickenson, Esq.

On the ten year anniversary of Frances and Jeanne hitting the east coast of Florida, now is the time when homeowners should be examining their homeowners policies and making sure they are prepared in event of a major storm. However, homeowners claims in Florida are not just the result of hurricane or storm damage. In fact, most homeowners claims are not.

Often, homeowners are the victims of lightning strikes, water intrusion, burst pipes, overflowing water heaters and washing machines and a number of other potential perils. Homeowners insurers typically dispatch an adjuster to the home, an estimate or scope is created and a check is issued without discussion. Most of the time, the check is insufficient to cover all of the homeowners damages. Unfortunately, most of the time, homeowners do not consult with an attorney to learn the full extent of their rights. This is a huge part of the insurance company playbook. Hope that the insured does not realized they are entitled to be made whole.

Homeowners insurers in the state of Florida are held to the same standard as any other insurer. They have a duty to adjust claims in good faith. If they fail to follow any of a number of statutory rules which require good faith, they can be sued and attorneys fees can be payable under Florida Statute 627.428. The Statute provides as follows:

627.428 Attorney’s fee.—

(1) Upon the rendition of a judgment or decree by any of the courts of this state against an insurer and in favor of any named or omnibus insured or the named beneficiary under a policy or contract executed by the insurer, the trial court or, in the event of an appeal in which the insured or beneficiary prevails, the appellate court shall adjudge or decree against the insurer and in favor of the insured or beneficiary a reasonable sum as fees or compensation for the insured’s or beneficiary’s attorney prosecuting the suit in which the recovery is had.

This section provides insurers with a big stick against their insurers. The leverage created by this statute allows property damage attorneys to more quickly and effectively resolve their clients’ claims. Once the insurers see that you have a Florida licensed attorney, a legitimate claim and the willingness to proceed to a lawsuit, your claim is often taken much more seriously.

Consult with a licensed Florida attorney on this subject to maximize your recovery and get your home repaired in a timely manner.

Daniel F. Dickenson, Esq.

Daniel is a trial lawyer specializing in personal injury, insurance litigation and general civil litigation in Boca Raton, Florida.  

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