Hurricane Laura Lawsuit and Insurance Claims

Table of Contents


Tips for Speaking with Your Adjuster

Download a copy of the “Tips for Speaking with Your Adjuster” checklist here.

 

Hurricane Laura was a Category 4 hurricane that made landfall with wind speeds of more than 130 MPH.

Millions of property owners have been affected and need help rebuilding in their communities. To protect your rights, you may need to contact an experienced Hurricane Laura lawsuit attorney.

At Pierce Skrabanek, our attorneys know firsthand how challenging it can be to deal with a hurricane insurance company. We can step in and protect your legal rights when your insurance company fails to live up to their promises and policy terms.

Contact us at (832) 690-7000 for a free, no-obligation consultation to help determine your next steps for recovery.

 

Hurricane Claim Insurance: Windstorm vs. Flood Recovery

One of the main points to understand about hurricane insurance is the difference between windstorm coverage and flood coverage. Most Texas and Louisiana residents will already have windstorm coverage, but a majority of residents don’t have specific flood coverage.

Many homeowners make the wrong assumption that their homeowner’s insurance policy includes flood coverage. However, you are only covered for flood damage if you have purchased a specific policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which works in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

State law covers windstorm damage claims. Under state laws, hurricane victims can recover monetary damages, bad faith insurance costs, attorneys fees, and other expenses. On the other hand, you may face many difficulties if you need recovery but don’t have any flood insurance coverage.

Since flood insurance claims are handled through federal courts, the same types of fees and penalties might not be applicable as they are in windstorm cases. Furthermore, you might experience delays or reduced compensation. In many cases, it may be necessary to reopen a claim, sometimes two or three times.

Under law, insurance companies may be required to pay additional damages and compensation, plus attorneys fees, in the event of undue delays.

As such, you may need to consider hiring a hurricane damage lawyer to ensure that you’re getting the recovery you are entitled to under your policy and under hurricane damage laws.

Fully grasping the distinctions between windstorm and flood claims can be difficult without the help of a lawyer. Moreover, there can be much overlap and “grey area” with the two. An experienced hurricane property damage attorney can assess your situation and determine the ideal course of action.

If you or a loved one have been affected by Hurricane Laura, contact the attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek at (832) 690-7000 for legal representation. As Texas residents, we understand how devastating hurricane disasters can be, and will do all we can to see that you are fully compensated.

For more in-depth information, listen to Paul Skrabanek discussing the legal impacts of hurricanes in a Ringler Radio Podcast.

 

Challenges When Filing a Hurricane Laura Damages Claim

Hurricane damage means big business for insurance companies. Unfortunately, insurance companies aren’t always on your side when it comes to restoring your property and getting your life back on track promptly and efficiently.

While certain insurance carriers will eventually pay out for full replacement values, the majority of owners will experience delays, denied claims, or underpaid compensation. To illustrate the situation, State Farm received more than 35,000 insurance claim applications in the week following Hurricane Laura.

Under normal, non-catastrophe circumstances, filing a property damage claim is fairly quick and straightforward. However, in the wake of a major crisis like Hurricane Laura, insurance companies could be receiving thousands of calls a day.

To add to the confusion, many insurance companies have an interest in limiting settlement amounts and delaying claims. For instance, they may claim that the damage happened before the hurricane, or that the homeowner somehow contributed to the damage (for instance, by not securing damaged/dangerous property after the storm).

Dealing with Insurance Adjusters

Hurricane insurance adjusters will be bombarded with a heavy workload immediately after a hurricane. They may arrive at the scene from hundreds of miles away, often unfamiliar with the area, and only staying there for weeks at a time. They could be working maybe 16 hour days, 7 days a week.

Due to this immense pressure, adjusters may seek to shuffle through property assessments quickly, and often in a less-than-thorough manner.

On top of this, you will likely have to file the claim on your phone under trying conditions, and will be presented with documents that are hard to read and full of legal language.

These will likely need the review of an attorney, as insurers themselves may not be fully equipped to explain the documents (many of them have the job as a side gig). Many insurance adjusters may be young, and under-educated and inexperienced.

Adjusters also may not be in a position to negotiate with the full leverage that an attorney can, and will often leave large amounts of money on the table for the insured they are supposed to represent.

They usually charge a percentage of the award, which will reduce your overall compensation.

Thus, you should do all you can to ensure that your claim gets a full review and that you fully prepare for the process, so that you don’t miss out on the full compensation. In some cases, you can request an adjuster; if possible, ask for a large loss adjuster. You may also need to hire a lawyer early on.

If you feel that an insurance company has ignored your claim or violated your rights, you may need to file a Hurricane Laura lawsuit for full compensation. A hurricane lawyer can assist you in the process so your rights are protected. There are also several steps you can take to protect yourself.

 

5 Steps to Take If Hurricane Laura Damaged Your Property

There are many ways you can prepare for the insurance claims process and increase your chances of obtaining a favorable payout amount. These include:

  1. Documenting your property extensively: Be sure to take plenty of photos and videos of any hurricane property damage. Before you throw anything away, make sure the damage is well-documented so you have proof to show the adjuster. Make a list of every single item and area affected.
  2. Mitigating potential additional damages: As mentioned, insurance companies and adjusters might look for ways to put the blame on you for the damage. They may try to claim you caused additional damages to lower your overall claim. If there is anything you can do to reduce (mitigate) additional property damage after the hurricane, such as boarding up windows or covering rubble with tarp, you should do so.
  3. Checking the adjuster’s background and credentials: Insurance adjusters are paid to examine property damage and help the insured person with their claim. However, they should be properly licensed and certified. Be sure to check their credentials before working with them. If you can get a recommendation for an adjuster from a friend or family member, all the better.
  4. Filing your claim promptly: Insurance companies will be backlogged immediately following a major event like Hurricane Laura. To avoid missing deadlines or any other delays, contact your insurance company as soon as it is safe for you to do so. Your compensation depends on when you file, as the investigation doesn’t start until you contact the insurance company. So it’s up to you to start the process quickly.
  5. Consulting with a qualified hurricane lawyer: If an insurance company denied your Hurricane Laura claim, or if the outcome was unsatisfactory, contact a hurricane property damage attorney. An attorney can review your claim as well as possible legal alternatives so you get the justice you deserve. It is also recommended that you work with a hurricane lawyer at the outset, even before you file your claim. They can then help guide you through the process as you prepare your claim.  

See our Hurricane Insurance Claim Checklist for convenient reference:

 

Hurricane Laura Insurance Claim Checklist

  • Copy of most recent insurance policy
  • List of items damaged
  • Receipts for purchase of personal property damaged or lost
  • Estimates obtained for property damage
  • Extensive photo and video documentation of all property damage (both before and after the hurricane)
  • Receipts for expenses related to temporary repairs
  • Records of alternative living expenses (hotel and rental car invoices, etc.)
  • Any questions you may have for an adjuster or lawyer

 

5 Tips on Documenting Property Damage

The following are tips to help you when you documenting your property damage in preparation for a claim:

  1. Take several photos and extensive video of any damaged property
  2. Take notes describing the damaged property, its cost, and when it was purchased
  3. Try to locate receipts and invoices that help support your claims
  4. Don’t throw away any property until it’s been photographed and inspected by an adjuster
  5. Before submitting any documents, photos, or videos to the adjuster, double-check to see that you have made copies for your own records

Make sure you remain present and attentive the entire time when the adjuster makes their inspections. Confirm that they conduct a thorough and comprehensive assessment of your property — after a disaster, insurance adjusters may attempt to speed the process along so they can get to their next inspection. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed through the assessment.

Lastly, be sure you take the inspector throughout the entire property, even in areas that have no apparent damage. Inspectors are trained to locate damage and may detect damage that isn’t apparent to an untrained person.

 

Blue and white traffic sign reading "Hurricane Evacuation Route"

 

6 Common Types of Hurricane Property Damage

Hurricanes cause property damage through high winds, flying objects, floodwaters, and other factors. The following are common examples of the type of property damage frequently caused by storms like Hurricane Laura:

  1. Structural Damage: High winds can damage walls, windows, fenders, and other areas of the house. Flying objects can also damage the property.
  2. Roof Damage: Powerful winds often damage roof tiles, or even lift entire portions of the roof off of the house. This leads to further property damage as the inside of the home becomes exposed to the storm. Damaged shingles can also affect the seal of the roof. Metal roof repairs are often more expensive than standard roofing.
  3. Broken Windows: High pressure can cause windows to shatter, even if they are shuttered. Flying objects can also break exposed glass. 130+ mph winds can also affect the gases within windows, causing them to fog up.
  4. Damaged Doors: Similar to how roofs can be pulled off of a house, high winds are also known to create a pull on doors of all types. In particular, garage doors and sliding glass doors are more likely to be damaged due to their large size.
  5. Water Damage: Water can damage a home in a host of different ways, including rain and flooding. This leads to mold and mildew issues after the hurricane has passed.
  6. Clothes and Other Personal Property: Excessive moisture can severely damage basic necessities such as clothing, especially if they have been sitting in the moisture for a long time. A power surge can also damage ALL electronics and appliances that were plugged in during the storm.

Other property and assets not attached to a home can also suffer damage in a hurricane. For instance, automobiles, swimming pools, storage units, and tool sheds can often be completely damaged in a major hurricane.

Be sure also to document additional living expenses (ALE); these can include costs of temporary housing/hotel stays, travel expenses (keep track of your mileage), power generators, rental cars, and other costs.

Homeowner’s insurance should cover these types of damages and losses. However, as mentioned, full compensation may be delayed or affected if you don’t fully document your claim.

 

Contact an Experienced Hurricane Damage Lawyer for Assistance

If you have experienced delays or underpayment for your Hurricane Laura claim, you may need a qualified attorney on your side. As Texas residents, we have lived through major hurricane events and know firsthand how difficult it can be to start over.

We have experience negotiating and interacting with insurance companies and adjusters, and are here to help answer your questions and explain your rights. Get in touch with us at (832) 219-1601 for a free consultation to determine what’s next for you and your family. We are doing all we can to help the community rebuild and recover.

 

Hurricane Laura Lawsuit FAQs

 

This depends on many factors, including the victim’s individual coverage plan. In most cases, standard homeowner’s insurance won’t cover flood damage, and therefore many residents may be left without coverage in the event of a flood.

Thus, it’s important to enlist the assistance of experienced Hurricane Laura lawsuit attorneys who can assess your claim. Pursuing a flood damage claim will be difficult without the guidance of those who are trained to handle such matters.

Absolutely. As mentioned, adjusters may be in a rush or may skim over the property if they are experiencing a backlog of claims. If you know someone such as an engineer who can speak to the damage of your property (especially water or flood damage), the insurance company is obliged to factor in their feedback. This will typically work in your favor.

If you haven’t already done so, you should file a claim as soon as you are able to. You will be facing important filing deadlines, which can affect your ability to recover compensation.

As mentioned, even when you do submit your claim, you may experience delays, so it’s best not to wait. Before you file, be sure to document the damages as described above.

Experiencing a natural disaster like Hurricane Laura can be traumatizing, and you might not know where to start. Contacting a lawyer early on can help set you on the right path. A qualified Hurricane Laura lawsuit attorney can help you:

  • Prepare the documentation for your claim
  • Negotiate with insurance companies and property adjusters
  • Review your policy closely to maximize your recovery amount
  • Pursue legal action if your case is denied or unduly delayed

At Pierce Skrabanek, we are passionate about helping our fellow local residents put their lives back together after a catastrophic event. We want to make sure our neighbors and communities are fully accounted for.

Contact us at (832) 219-1601 if you or a loved one have been affected by a hurricane and need assistance for a claim.

 

Client Testimonials

“My experience with Paul and his assistants was wonderful. They took care of me very well and I would recommend them to anyone that needs a good lawyer.”
– Harriet H.

“Fantastic team of attorneys and staff dedicated to their clients. Michael Pierce is an outstanding trial attorney for personal injury cases. ”
– Diane T.

 

Verdicts and Settlements

At Pierce Skrabanek, we place the highest priority on obtaining the best results for our clients. Our proven track record of verdicts and settlements speaks for itself. Notable results for clients include:

Recovery for Ambulance Accident Case — $117 Million

Attorney Mike Pierce served as a lead lawyer in a case that returned a $117 million in recovery for a catastrophic crash victim. This is the single largest injury verdict in Louisiana history.

Jones Act Jury Verdict in a Work Injury Case — $16.9 Million

Pierce Skrabanek secured a $16.9 million verdict on behalf of a seaman who contracted pneumonia while working on a jack-up rig. The victim was also awarded $2 million in punitive damages.