CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK WITH A WINTER STORM PROPERTY DAMAGE ATTORNEY FOR FREE
Millions of Texans have suffered tremendously due to the recent storm in February. A large number of Texans are still suffering. As the recovery process is underway, there are several steps to take in order to make sure you will be able to recover smoothly.
If you or your loved one has suffered winter storm property damage, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our winter storm property damage attorneys.
Tips on Protecting Your Home and Staying Safe in a Winter Storm
Though Texas is not a state that generally faces catastrophic winter storms, this winter was an exception. Below are some tips to follow during a winter storm so that you may not experience more damage than you must.
Check on the Ice Dams
Ice dams form when snow and ice clog up the eaves on your roof. As a result, once the snow on the roof starts to melt, it is unable to naturally travel down your roof. When this happens, the water can leak into your house. Therefore, after a winter storm, you should get a rake or some other snow-removing apparatus to remove the snow on your roof. This prevents the snow from accumulating.
Another way to prevent ice dams is to install water-repellant barriers on your roof.
Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing
Frozen pipes are not only a hassle because of the cost of repairs, but they are also life-threatening as frozen pipes mean that you may not be able to access water or heat. If you believe that there will be a winter storm, you should make sure that you keep your heat on. Though you may incur a higher heating bill, you will at least not have to worry about fixing your pipes, which can be much more expensive.
Insulate Your Home
Heat escapes through the smallest of holes and cracks. During a winter storm, you will want to be as warm as possible. That is why you may wish to caulk your windows and other areas of your house that have small cracks from which heat can escape.
Once a winter storm is over, it is vital that you clear the pathways that you use to leave and enter your home. This is because ice can accumulate, which can lead to dangerous slip and falls. One way to prevent ice from accumulating on your pathways is by sprinkling rock salt on them.
Statute of Limitations Regarding Property Damage
If you are planning to file a property damage lawsuit, you should realize that there is a time limit to do so. The statute of limitations regarding property damage lawsuits in the state of Texas states that an individual has two years from the date of the damage to file a lawsuit.
If you fail to file a lawsuit within the allotted time period, it is almost certain that the opposing party will file a motion to dismiss the case due to the statute of limitations. If this occurs and the judge grants the motion, you will likely no longer have a legal remedy. Even if you are planning to settle a winter storm property damage claim, you still want to make sure you start the settlement process as quickly as possible. This is because if your settlement goes awry, you may need to file a lawsuit.
Of course, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations. For instance, if the defendant you are planning to file a lawsuit against is not residing in Texas, the statute of limitations does not apply until the defendant returns to Texas. Another instance when the statute of limitations can be suspended is if the potential plaintiff is under a legal disability. A legal disability may mean that the potential plaintiff is under the age of eighteen or that the potential plaintiff is of an unsound mind.
Mistakes Property Damage Policy Holders Make
Not Filing a Claim
When a winter storm like the one that hit Texas in February damages your home, it is not wise to not file a claim in fear that your policy may get cancelled. Certain damages are caused by what some insurers label as “Acts of God.” Acts of God damages are those damages that were not at all preventable by the policyholder. For these types of damages, your policy will not likely go up or be cancelled because you file a winter storm property damage claim.
Filing an Unnecessary Claim
Though in the previous section it was suggested that you should generally file a claim if your property was damaged by an Act of God, you should not file a claim if the property damage was only very slight.
Contracting with a Storm Chaser
After a storm, some contracting companies drive through storm-stricken neighborhoods looking for work. Though seemingly well-intentioned, many of these companies are owned and managed by people who are not even from the state; they are simply there to grab your cash and leave.
If you do meet a representative from one of these companies offering you what seems like a great deal, be very skeptical. Be sure to look up their reputation online before you decide to contract with them. In fact, it may be better to forgo their services altogether. Consider perhaps hiring a company that has been certified by the state of Texas.
What Should I Do If My Claims Adjuster Denies Coverage?
If your adjuster denies your claim, you should first ask for a written letter that explains why he or she denied your claim. When you write this letter, you want to tell the adjuster to be specific in his or her reasoning. Ask the adjuster for the specific policy provisions that would allow the insurance company to deny you coverage.
If the adjuster refuses to write you a letter, you will want to document this fact by writing another letter to the adjuster noting that the adjuster refused to write you a letter. This letter will be important if you plan to file a lawsuit later.
Do not be feel that hope is lost if the insurance company’s lawyer sends you a letter stating that your winter storm property damage claim is beyond the scope of the company. After all, if the lawyer works for the insurance company, he or she is more likely to interpret the company’s policy provisions in a manner that favors the insurance company.
Do Not Let the Claims Adjuster Rush You
Claims adjusters are often graded by how many claims they can close. This leads to an incentive for a claims adjuster to not be very thorough with your claim. If the claims adjuster sends an investigator to conduct a check of the damages of your home, you may find yourself being sent a report with less damages than there actually are. This is because the investigator may be inexperienced. The investigator may also be trained to ignore certain damages so that the insurance company does not have to pay more. In such cases, you may want to hire an intendent investigator to counter a rushed report. Do not settle for an underpaid insurance claim.
Should I Hire an Attorney?
Hiring an attorney in a property damage case is not always advisable. Below are some scenarios in which you may wish to forgo hiring an attorney and some scenarios in which you may wish to hire an attorney.
The Insurance Company Is Planning to Give You the Largest Compensation Available
If an insurance company is going to give you the maximum amount under its policy, you probably will not need an attorney. The insurance company has fully negotiated its end of the deal. Of course, it may be a different story if you are filing a winter storm property damage claim with a defendant’s insurance company. In that case, depending on how much money the defendant has, you may wish to hire an attorney to file a lawsuit against the defendant to collect compensation beyond the amount given by the insurance company.
You Feel Confident That You Can Research the Law and Settlement Process
Some plaintiffs like to be in control of everything. If you feel as though you can put in the hours to research the law and settlement process, you may not need a lawyer.
Your Property Damage Was Severe
If your property was severely damaged, you may wish to hire an experienced attorney. An experienced attorney who has done many property damage cases will be able to find out the full extent of the damages to your property. He or she will have investigators at hand and know the tricks that insurance companies use to deceive policyholders. In some cases, having an attorney can be a great leverage in getting the insurance company to give you a more satisfactory settlement. This is because an insurance company generally does not like going to trial. Trials are expensive for all parties. If the insurance company believes that giving a higher settlement offer will remove the possibility of trial, it may do so.
CONTACT A WINTER STORM PROPERTY DAMAGE ATTORNEY
The experienced attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you with a property damage claim. After an accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about affording legal representation, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case.
Meetings with attorneys are by appointment only.