PROPERTY DAMAGE CLAIMS IN TEXAS
INSURANCE & CONTRACT CLAIMS
Houston Property Damage Lawyer
You just suffered devastating property damage in Houston. How do you know whether or not to hire a Houston property damage lawyer?
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.
What Kind of Lawyer Do I Need for a Property Damage Insurance Claim?
At first, many people are unsure about whether they even need a lawyer, let alone what kind of lawyer. Dedicated property damage attorneys have more impact than others on cases related to home or business property damage. Specifically, homeowners or business owners often seek advice from an attorney when the following types of damage occur.
- Wind damage
- Hurricane damage
- Fire or smoke damage
- Water damage or burst pipes
- Foundation issues
- Subsidence (sinking building)
- Defective construction
Insurance policies that relate to homes or businesses are intentionally complicated. This leads to many people who have insurance policies simply not knowing whether or not certain circumstances receive coverage under their plan. Having a qualified property damage attorney will make understanding your policy much, much easier. Additionally, they help to outline what your specific policy covers, as well as whether or not a settlement offered to you is fair and honest. In some cases, insurance companies act in bad faith, meaning that they are not properly valuing your claim or treating your case fairly. When this happens, you have the right to ask your attorney about bad faith insurance claims.
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.
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.
Call Today to Speak with a Houston Property Damage Lawyer
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 tornados, we also represent those who suffer property damage from fires, windstorms, or other methods of destruction. 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.
There is a never a fee unless we recover on your behalf.