Wrongful Denial of Claims for Major Sinkhole Damage
Has your insurance company denied compensation for structural damage despite confirmed sinkhole activity? This devastating scenario has played out across Florida in recent years as property owners have seen their rights eroded along with the ground beneath them.
However, a new law and subsequent court decisions have actually turned out to be favorable to those property owners who are most severely impacted by sinkholes. As a result, insurers are being held accountable for wrongfully denying legitimate claims for sinkhole-related structural damage.
Denied claim for structural damage?
The Tampa law firm of Corless Barfield Trial Group has a record of results in fighting insurance companies for full coverage of not only the visible damage but remediation of the sinkhole problem itself. Contact us today about suspected structural damage or reopening your sinkhole insurance claim.
Florida Sinkhole Claim Denial Attorney: Structural Damage Cases
A new Florida law enacted in May 2011 stipulated that insurance companies must pay for structural damage but are not obligated to pay for architectural damage. The statute spells out a definition of structural damage, which often is vaguely defined in insurance policies. Many insurers have continued to deny claims that had been brought before the law changed. However, Florida courts have recently sided with property owners and ruled that the law applies retroactively to all insured structures for sinkhole damage occurring on or after Oct. 15, 2005.
Certain insurers, such as USAA, American Mercury and Tower Hill, are notorious for denying these sinkhole claims, often valued at $300,000 or more. How can insurance companies deny structural damage? By arguing that the damage is merely "architectural" or "cosmetic," and that it poses no threat to the safety of occupants or the integrity of the building.
When contested, these cases come down to highly technical engineering and geological assessments, namely whether the load-bearing capacity of the footers, foundation and perimeter walls of the structure has been compromised by sinkholes. The insurance companies send their experts, who almost always conclude that the damage does not meet the structural damage threshold.
We Understand Sinkholes, the Law ... and Insurance Companies
Trial lawyer Ted A. Corless has the trial experience and resources to challenge insurers in these complex cases. He can arrange for independent sinkhole experts to assess the structure and the underlying sinkhole activity on your residential or commercial property. He is highly knowledgeable about sinkholes and the associated architectural, engineering, construction and building code issues in these cases. Mr. Corless also formerly worked in insurance defense; he knows how to anticipate and counter the insurance company tactics.
By design, about 90 percent of the weight of any home or building is distributed to the perimeter, namely the concrete footings. If there is a sinkhole cavity beneath the footings, it will eventually cause the structure itself to lean, twist, bow, buckle, shift or even collapse. You may have serious structural damage even before there are physical signs such as cracks in the wall, tilted floors or jammed windows. It is paramount to identify the imminent threat and correct it through aggressive (and expensive) sinkhole remediation measures.
The insurance companies will go to great lengths to avoid paying these claims. Corless Barfield Trial Group will go to even greater lengths to uphold your rights and protect your family and your property. Arrange a free consultation with our Tampa sinkhole structural damage attorney today by calling 813-498-1623 or 877-517-5595. We handle sinkhole litigation in Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties, in the Ocala and Tallahassee areas, and throughout Florida.