FAQs About Property Damage Claims in Florida
In Florida, it is estimated that there were over 15,000 claims for property damage made last year alone. This does not account for all the cases where no formal claim was filed because they were resolved without litigation or insurance company involvement.
Most people don’t think about property claims until they are in a situation where one is necessary. But it’s always good to be prepared so you know what you need to do if the worst happens and your property gets damaged or destroyed. Have you suffered property damage due to a fire, storm, or other events? If so, read on for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about property damage insurance claims in Florida.
What Counts as Property Damage in a Legal Case?
The difference between property damage and personal damages in a legal case is that property damage constitutes tangible assets, whereas personal damages include physical injuries. What counts as property damage in a court case is determined by the laws of your state and what has been damaged. It’s important to remember, though, that property damage liability is limited to a certain amount per item or per occurrence.
This includes land, buildings (including homes), structures (buildings with an interior room), and vehicles. Sometimes even trees on someone else’s property could constitute as your “property” if they have been damaged by negligence or carelessness from another individual or business entity.
The most common questions regarding what counts as property damage in a court case revolve around the damages to a home. Usually, your insurance company will outline how much each item in your home is worth and how much coverage you have. This is one of the first things you should ask your attorney because it can make a huge difference in your ability to collect damages on a case.
In some instances, theft of personal belongings counts as property damage. However, it can be difficult to prove without actual physical proof of the harm done, so you want to have a good attorney to help you out. Not only do they have the expertise to gather the evidence you need to win your case, but they also have the knowledge and experience to know how to handle the insurance claims process.
Having a solid team of legal professionals on your side will help get you through the claims process quickly and easily while helping to ensure that you do not waste money on a bad case. If you are ever in doubt as to what is covered, don’t sign anything or verbally agree to anything before you discuss it with an attorney. You need to have all of your questions answered beforehand if you are going to have a clear sense of what the legal merits of your claim are. Otherwise, you could find yourself paying for a mistake that could have been avoided.
Does General Liability Insurance Cover Property Damage?
It will depend on your specific policy. However, general liability insurance usually protects your home or business from someone else suing you. It is not intended to cover property damage from incidents like acts of nature or theft. Rather, a general liability policy may protect you from incidents where a person (other than yourself) is injured on or in your property. It can also help protect you against third-party claims for negligence.
What is Accidental Property Damage?
The law tries to differentiate things as “acts constituting negligence,” “unintentional wrongs,” and “force majeure.” Negligent acts that cause property damage, such as theft and vandalism, are not considered accidental.
Property damage can occur for a variety of reasons. Acts of nature such as hurricanes, fires, and tornadoes can all cause massive damage to a home or business. These types of calamities should always be taken care of by a legal expert in the field. If you are unsure whether or not you should proceed with the issue, a legal expert is often able to provide some peace of mind. They can also assist you with filing a claim with your insurance carrier and getting the necessary compensation for your loss.
Some home and business owners choose to hire a Tampa property damage attorney in the event that they accidentally damage someone else’s property. If you have experienced any of these unfortunate events, you should consider hiring a professional property damage attorney in Tampa to handle the issue.
What is Property Damage in a Car Accident?
Property damage can occur in a car accident even if there is no bodily injury involved. For example, if you hit a curb or a street sign, this may be considered property damage. Similarly, if you damage someone’s lawn or house, this could also be considered property damage.
In other words, it is damage to any tangible property that is not a person. Under Florida law, pets are considered personal property. Therefore, if you were to injure or kill an animal in an accident, the incident would also fall under property damage.
What is the Property Damage Insurance Claims Process?
As per usual, before you start making a property damage insurance claim, you would have to contact your insurance company, or your agent, to inform them of the exact incident/accident which occurred. You would also need to provide them with some basic information such as the location of the incident, the extent of the damage, and any witnesses who may be able to corroborate your account of the accident.
To help make the claims process smoother, property owners are advised to keep a current and comprehensive list of their belongings. It is best to keep this list in a place where it won’t be destroyed in the event of an accident. One great way to do this is to keep digital copies of receipts, photos, serial numbers, etc. stored in the cloud. Doing this will help your insurance company immediately identify the value of the items and could help avoid any discrepancy in the value of the claim.
The next step would be to fill out your claim forms provided by your insurance company. Some claims can be filed through the agent, while others can be filed through the claims department of your insurance company. After your claim has been filed, you would need to wait for some time until the claims adjuster is in touch with you and your insurance company. They will carefully go through all the details of your claim and determine whether or not they will cover your claim.
What Can I Do if the Insurance Company’s Settlement Offer is Too Low?
The insurance company is a for-profit business. This means they will have many loopholes built into your insurance policy designed to maximize profit for itself. If you feel they are offering a settlement that is far below the value of the items or the payout allowances under your policy, you should immediately contact a property damage attorney.
What Happens if my Property Damage Claim is Denied?
Unfortunately, denial of property damage claims is an all too common occurrence. If you believe your claim was erroneously denied, you still have legal rights available to you. Depending on the circumstances of the accident and the reason for denial, you may be able to pursue compensation either from a third party or go directly after the insurance company.
Going up against an insurance company is a very complex process. They are experts at getting out of paying for claims. The only way to know which way to go is to contact a property damage attorney. They will guide you on the best course of action and can help you better understand the legal process for filing a lawsuit for property damage.
What is the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights in Florida?
Under Florida law, insurance companies are required to provide their customers with a Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights. This document details only the rights of a claimant as it pertains to filing a claim, and is not an exhaustive list of remedies and rights available to a claimant. Unfortunately, if the company doesn’t do this, it is not admissible in a civil case against the insurance company. However, the company could face administrative action against it levied by the state of Florida.
Some of the rights due to you under the Florida Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights include:
- Written acknowledgment of your claim within 14 days of receiving it.
- Receive payment of your settlement within 90 days (subject to some stipulations).
- Free mediation services (subject to certain restrictions) by the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services.
- Free neutral claim examination if the property damage was from a sinkhole.
- Upon written request, receive a proof-of-loss statement and get an update to the status of your claim.
What Does “Bad Faith” Mean in an Insurance Claim?
If the insurance company is not responding to, undervaluing, denying, or delaying your property damage claim, they could be acting in “bad faith.” In other words, the company may be trying to intentionally deceive you to help save their bottom line. This is against the law.
Recently, the Florida Senate passed legislation to provide a new framework for insurance companies and bad faith actions. As this new framework is put into place, it is important to discuss any issues you come across with a property damage attorney who has experience with bad faith claims.
How to Sue Someone for Property Damage
If you are in a dispute with someone over property damages, one of the first steps you must take is learning about your local laws regarding this area of the law. Some states make it very easy to sue, while other states make it more difficult. It all depends on where the property is located and what the surrounding circumstances are. Because property law can be very complex, it is best to hire an attorney. An attorney will tell you what type of case you have and instruct you on how to file a lawsuit for property damage.
Hire an Expert Property Damage Attorney in Tampa
When you contact a property damage attorney in Tampa, you should expect to discuss a variety of topics. These topics can include general information about property damage and your rights, as well as your obligations. You should also expect to be asked to provide proof of insurance and other documents related to your specific case. Once all of the documentation is gathered, the legal professional will be able to review the information and determine what steps are best taken for your situation.
If an agreement can be made, then the attorney will help you obtain the necessary forms to process your claim. In addition, hiring a property damage attorney in Tampa will ensure that you receive full compensation for any damage that occurs. Your attorney will know exactly what the laws are regarding damage of this nature and will fight for your rights whenever possible.
At the law firm of Darrigo & Diaz, we have expertise in representing clients in personal injury cases. We’ve been serving the Tampa Bay area for more than 20 years and successfully recovered millions for our clients. We can provide a free consultation where we will discuss your case in confidence. For a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your case, contact us 24/7 by calling (813) 774-3341 to discuss your legal options right over the phone.