HOUSTON PROPERTY DAMAGE LAWYER
INSURANCE & CONTRACT CLAIMS
Property Damage Claims in Houston, TX
You just suffered devastating property damage in Houston. How do you know whether or not to hire a Houston property damage attorney?
At the law office of Reich & Binstock in Houston, we don’t just focus on high-dollar personal injury cases. We also dedicate a large portion of our practice to insurance claims, including those related to property damage.
Victims of accidents that result in property damage count on the reliability of insurance companies to help with expensive repair or replacement payments. But, these insurance companies have a profit motive, so they only want to shell out the bare minimum for each claim. Better yet, they’d love to pay you nothing at all and dismiss your claim altogether. However, we’re here to get you the compensation you deserve for your Houston property damage case. To get in touch with us for a free consultation, please call our office at 713-622-7271 today.
Property Damage Lawyers in Houston, TX
At Reich & Binstock, we understand that insurance companies are for-profit businesses that care more about making money than they do about good faith insurance practices. If you pay for an insurance policy, but the insurance company refuses to settle your claim, you might have a case. Immediately after you receive a denial, call an experienced property damage lawyer with our law firm. We offer a free case evaluation for our clients in multiple practice areas.
When insurance companies deny valid claims, we work hard to make sure that you receive a fair settlement in the end. After all, we have extensive experience handling bad faith insurance claims. Schedule your free legal consultation as soon as possible if you do not receive a fair settlement or if the insurance company denies your claim altogether. We’ll handle insurance companies on your behalf so that you can focus on repairing the damage your property suffered.
Do I Need a Property Damage Attorney?
As with any other personal injury claim, it’s never a bad idea to hire an attorney or at least consult with one. However, if your insurance claim is handled quickly and efficiently by the insurance company, there is no need for a lawyer. It’s when insurance companies don’t treat claims fairly that you should consider hiring an experienced property damage attorney.
It’s also important to note that property damage attorneys often have the most influence in claims involving significant damage to businesses or homes. Examples include natural disasters, hurricane damage, and wind and hail damage.
Other cases in which property damage attorneys are very helpful include:
- Fire damage and smoke damage
- Water damage, leaks, and burst pipes
- Issues with the foundation of the building
- Subsidence, or a sinking building
- Defects in construction
In many cases, documents for homeowners insurance and business insurance are highly complex. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for policyholders to be unaware of exactly what coverage their property insurance includes. Our property damage lawyers can help clear this up for property owners and make sure you know what a fair settlement looks like.
In some cases, we even litigate larger, more complex claims. One recent example is the Hermits Peak fire in New Mexico.
What Should I Do If My House Is Damaged?
If your home or business suffers damage, it can be very frustrating and difficult to recover compensation from either a negligent party or your own insurance provider. However, there are certain steps you can take to have a smoother claims process. We outline these steps below.
- Immediately report the damage to your insurance company once you take stock of the damage. Your insurance policy likely has a clause that requires timely submission of claims notices. Throughout the process, keep careful track of all the damage to structures and items of value.
- Review the terms of your insurance policy with a qualified attorney. Generally, property damage insurance will cover the following damages: fallen trees, water, wind, fire, smoke, storm, hail, tornado, hurricane, and more.
- Be ready for a different claims process after a major disaster. You might encounter public insurance adjusters with biases on who they recommend to repair the damage. Again, speak with your property damage lawyers in order to protect your interests.
- Understand what NOT to do during your insurance claim process. Do not forget to track your valuables, home values, and losses. Don’t repair anything on your own until you contact your insurance company. Don’t forget to obtain all insurance company agreements in writing. Do not throw anything away, even if it is completely ruined. Lastly, don’t accept the first settlement offer they give you unless it completely covers your losses.
What Is a Property Damage Claim?
Property damage claims are basically requests from the injured party for coverage of their losses. These losses or damage to personal property could result from car accidents or severe weather events. A property damage insurance claim can be filed through a number of avenues, including collision coverage, liability coverage, or different additional coverage. For vehicle damage that occurs outside of a car accident, you will likely file your claim with your comprehensive coverage.
Types of Property Damage Claims
There are many different types of property damage claims available to the average person. Unfortunately, filing a property loss claim is much more common than many people realize. Below, we outline some of the most common claim types.
Wind Damage Claims
These are the most common types of claims related to property damage. Wind and hail damage accounts for around 34% of all property claims. These claims generally cover the following types of damage.
- Broken windows
- Roof damage, exterior wall damage, and paint damage
- Damage to the building’s structure
- Broken or destroyed furniture outside the home
- Damaged window units
- Fallen tree damage
- Water damage related to the storm
Water and Flood Damage Claims
Unfortunately, water is much more destructive than many people know, especially to homes. Approximately 24% of all property damage claims resulted from water damage. In some states, it is a necessity to have flood insurance alongside your homeowners’ insurance. Examples of the damages include the following.
- Discolored floors, walls, or ceilings
- Mold and mildew
- Insect or bug infestations
- Foundation weaknesses
- Damaged furniture or appliances
Fire and Smoke Damage Claims
This is another common type of claim, as fires can happen pretty much anywhere and are very destructive. Around 33% of all claims come from fire and smoke damage. Unfortunately, insurance companies usually at least try to blame the homeowner for the fire. If this happens to you, we recommend contacting a property damage attorney right away.
Hurricane Damage Claims
Particularly in states along the East and Gulf coasts, hurricane damage is a major concern. Even very sturdy buildings often suffer damage from the extremely destructive power of a hurricane. In some states, homeowners insurance covers both wind and flooding damage. However, that is not the case in all states. Be sure to double-check your insurance policy to determine whether or not you are covered for both.
Theft and Burglary Losses
While not as outwardly destructive, break-ins can be very costly. You deserve only fairness from your insurance company’s settlement offer when something like this happens. Sadly, an insurance company might engage in bad faith practices, blaming victims for their inadequate security measures. They may even severely undervalue your stolen property. If this happens, you should work with an insurance bad faith lawyer.
How Does Property Damage Insurance Work?
After experiencing property damage, filing a claim might seem at first like a daunting task. However, we recommend following the simple steps below in order to properly file a claim. Having an attorney always helps, but these are the basic steps they’ll have you take:
- Report to your insurance company about the damage. Regardless of how your property suffered damage (accident, natural disaster, etc.), call your insurance company and notify them. We recommend doing this as soon as possible.
- File your claim. This is possible through a number of different methods. These methods include filing your claim by phone, email, fax, app, or website. Whichever method you prefer, use it to file your claim right away.
- Speak with your attorney before speaking with the insurance adjuster. Once you file your claim, the insurance company assigns an adjuster to your case. Because these adjusters are employees of the company, they will have the company’s best interests at heart while speaking with you. Speak with your attorney prior to and after speaking with the adjuster. They will have the best advice on what to say and what to avoid, as well as what is a fair estimate of your settlement.
- Repair or replace the damaged property. Insurance companies often recommend repair shops or specialists, but you can choose whichever one you prefer.
- Finalize your payout amount. Once you finish the repairs, the insurance company sends you a check or pays the repairers directly. At this point, you sign a release, accept the payment, and confirm that you will not pursue further claims related to these damages. Always make sure that your attorney reads over these releases and agreements prior to signing.
When to Hire a Lawyer for Property Damage?
Without a lawyer, it may seem impossible to get compensation for your property damage claim, as these cases are often complicated. The best time to hire a Houston property damage lawyer is right after the damage occurs. In cases of property damage related to negligence, your attorney will seek to prove four factors in your case.
- The defendant owes you a duty of reasonable care.
- The defendant breached that duty by failing to act with reasonable care.
- It was the breach by the defendant that caused the property damage.
- Your property was actually damaged.
If your attorney proves these four elements, you have a greater chance of recovering compensation for your claim. To further help your case, include an accurate estimate of the monetary amount of damage that your property suffered. Document the damage, track the costs and take statements where appropriate.
How Long Do You Have to File a Property Damage Claim?
In the state of Texas, individuals have a two-year statute of limitations period for filing suits or claims regarding the replacement or repair of property damage. The two-year window begins on the day of the damage. This applies to both real property (land or house) and personal property (vehicles or otherwise).
What if you miss the deadline for filing? If you still attempt to file after the filing deadline passes, the defendant has every right to ask the court for a dismissal of the case. Only in rare cases do these dismissals fail to happen. When the dismissal occurs, you lose all right to a legal remedy for the property damages. Therefore, even if you have reason to believe that your case will settle in your favor, we still recommend that you file as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the worse it looks in court for your case.
How to Prepare for Filing Property Damage Claim
To ensure that you both avoid claim denial and have a better chance of receiving the maximum amount of compensation, we recommend preparing in the following ways.
- Especially if something major, such as a natural disaster, is on the way, we recommend reading over your policy. Keep your copy of the insurance with you at all times in a safe, waterproof container.
- Take before and after photos of the property.
- Take pictures of all valuables before and after the storm.
- If you have an inventory list of everything in your home, consider updating it.
- After the storm, take steps to reduce further damage to the property.
- Do not throw anything away. You might throw away some important items by accident.
Reasons Your Texas Property Damage Claim May Be Denied
There are many invalid, bad faith reasons why insurance providers might deny a claim. However, there are also many valid reasons for claim disputes and denials. Below, we list several reasons why an insurance company might deny or dispute your claim.
You failed to meet your filing deadline.
It is better to notify an insurance agent of the damage sooner rather than later. This is because many policies have very time-sensitive requirements.
You have not paid your premiums.
Policy lapses happen sometimes, and that’s okay. However, it’s important to keep track of payments so that you can always have protection as a home or business owner.
The insurance carrier is suspicious of your claim.
The best way to avoid suspicion is to obtain legal assistance and document all the damage to your property. Work with an experienced law firm to avoid denial.
There is not enough evidence of the damage.
When you buy an insurance policy, it’s important to take inventory of the items in your home. Otherwise, the insurance company may say that your claim does not have enough evidence of loss.
There is an exclusion clause in your policy.
Not every homeowner’s or casualty insurance policy covers all kinds of damage. Some of the most commonly-excluded damages are water, flooding, wind, hurricane, and even earthquakes. To cover these types of damages, you may need supplemental coverage.
The insurance company claims you did not take preventative measures after the damage occurred.
Companies expect you to prevent further damage following a natural disaster or car accident. If they suspect that you purposefully allowed more damage to happen during the processing period, they may deny the claim.
You haven’t met your deductible.
Maybe the damage you suffered wasn’t devastating, but you still file a claim. If an adjuster says that you can repair your home for less than your deductible, they will likely refuse to cover the costs. Additionally, the company will not cover anything below the deductible amount.
Liability lies with someone else.
If you hire someone to work on your home or in your yard, there is always the possibility of them causing damage to your property. Unfortunately, your insurance company will not cover this damage. You will need to rely on the policy of the workers you hired to cover the costs.
Types of Property Damage Covered by Homeowners’ Insurance in Texas
Certain types of damage are typically covered under homeowners’ insurance policies. These damage types vary according to the state in which you live. Texas’s Consumer Bill of Rights outlines what renters and homeowners insurance will cover. Although Texas law does not require consumers to purchase homeowners’ insurance, it is not a bad idea to have. Below, we list the damages that your policy should cover in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Insurance.
- Coverage for personal property, including clothing, furniture, and other items
- Dwelling coverage, including costs associated with damage to property during a storm or a car accident
- Coverage for structures other than the home or business that are a part of the property
- Medical bill coverage for those harmed on the property
- Personal liability coverage, which includes lost income, medical expenses, and other costs associated with people being injured on your property
- Loss of use coverage includes living expenses, rent, food, and other costs associated with having to move out of the home for repairs
My Property Has Storm Damage. What Can I Claim?
As with many property damage cases, it largely depends on what type of property sustains damage. Below, we outline what types of damage warrant what types of claims:
- Vehicle damage: Generally, if you have comprehensive coverage for your vehicle, this will cover the damages.
- Damaged rental: Let’s say you rent a house or apartment. If you have renter’s insurance, which many rental spaces require, it usually covers storm damage. This is, of course, limited to your specific policy’s upper limits. However, your landlord’s insurance on the property usually does not cover tenants.
- Damaged home: In most storm damage, flooding, hail, or hurricane damage cases, your homeowner’s insurance covers these occurrences.
How Do I Sue the City for Property Damage?
In the past, government entities or agencies were protected by something called sovereign immunity. This prevented governments from being sued unless they themselves consented to the lawsuit. However, today you can absolutely sue the city or other government agency for damages. In many cases, the government in question requires you to file an administrative claim before filing your civil case. If or when they deny your claim, then you proceed with the civil case alongside your Houston property damage lawyer.
How to Calculate a Property Damage Claim?
Property damage claims are set to certain amounts according to certain values, which we explain in this section. If the property in question is completely destroyed, the claim value is generally set at its fair market value immediately prior to its destruction. In cases where it is possible to repair or restore damaged property, the claim amount is equal to the cost of repairs, plus the loss of owner use.
How Can an Attorney Help With Your Property Damage Claim?
Having insurance is highly beneficial for many people in many different ways. However, insurance companies do not always operate in good faith. They exist to make a profit, so they’ll try to deny as many claims as possible to save money. They also use their teams of lawyers and law firms to outgun policyholders. In other words, they don’t have your best interest in mind.
The property damage attorneys at Reich & Binstock are here to help you navigate the complexities of the insurance realm. We can help you fight back against greedy insurers and make your claim as strong as possible. With years of experience under our belts, we know the deceptive practices that insurance companies try to use against their policyholders.
Call Today to Speak with a Houston Property Damage Attorney
At Reich & Binstock, we have proudly and aggressively fought for our clients across the state of Texas for property damage compensation. Not only do we represent clients suffering from the effects of natural disasters like hurricanes and tornado damage, but we also represent those who suffer property damage from fires, windstorms, or other methods of destruction. We even handle cases of theft of personal belongings.
If you or someone you know needs a Houston property damage lawyer to fight on their behalf, call Reich & Binstock of Houston at 713-622-7271 today to schedule a free case evaluation. We operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t accept a cent unless we can secure a recovery for you. When you establish an attorney-client relationship with us, we fight tooth and nail to ensure that your personal injury case is handled quickly and fairly.
Other Practice Areas We Handle Include:
- Auto accident claims
- Premises liability claims
- Medical malpractice lawsuits
- Personal injury cases
- Watercraft accidents
- Sexual abuse lawsuits
- Third-party claims
- And much more
There is a never a fee unless we recover on your behalf.