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What To Consider In The Aftermath of a Hurricane
After a hurricane, property owners need to be aware of their premises liability as well as how they can recoup their losses through homeowner and hurricane insurance.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, many people have questions about how they will be able to recoup their losses and what steps to take in order to minimize continued losses. While hurricanes are devastating in their own right, often it is what happens afterwards that can be even more harmful. Once winds reach 74 mph, a storm is considered a hurricane, and as we saw with the devastation of Irma’s winds reaching 185 mph when it landed on the island of Barbuda, those winds create a lot of damage. Trees are uprooted, cars are tossed about like toys, and buildings can be destroyed. However, the rain that accompanies the storm, the floods that follow it, and the activities that come afterward can be just as dangerous.
While an estimated 50 people died as a result of Hurricane Harvey and an estimated 32 died as a result of Hurricane Irma, people are actually at a greater risk of harm after a hurricane than during. With people in such a hurry to restore normality to their lives, they are often prone to ignore dangers like floodwaters, carbon monoxide poisoning, and the risks involved in cleaning up after such an incident. After Hurricane Ike, 14 people died from carbon monoxide poisoning by using gas-powered generators or gas grills in their homes, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reported that more people died after the storm than during, with half of the post-hurricane fatalities due to falling from a ladder, roof, or tree while cleaning up debris.
As encouraging as it is to see neighbors helping one another after such an experience, there is also the possibility of people getting injured and suing for premises liability. While it is more of a challenge to prove such a case after a hurricane, considering neglect must be proven, it does still happen, and property owners should be aware and be prepared with the proper insurance coverage. For both commercial and residential property owners, not cleaning up the clutter in a timely manner can be construed as neglect, making a slip or fall a potential risk, as property owners have a duty to keep their properties reasonably safe for anyone visiting the property.
Hurricanes already carry with them a lot of damages, with 1992’s Hurricane Andrew causing roughly $34 billion in damages and Hurricane Harvey estimated at $150 billion to $180 billion in damages. Unfortunately, Andrew also resulted in many fraudulent and questionable claims, resulting in a number of investigations and litigation. These instances have made it more challenging for property owners to be recompensed for damages under homeowner’s insurance, and even for the additional hurricane insurance.
Insurance companies will often deny claims by stating that damages occurred due to water damage after the hurricane instead of during, by assuming the damages occurred before the storm, by stating that the building wasn’t up to code, or by arguing that the property owner was living in unsafe living conditions by living too close to the shoreline in the first place.
If you’ve experienced loss due to the recent storms and need help ensuring that you recoup your losses in order to put your life back together, contact us for a free consultation. Surviving a hurricane can be a harrowing ordeal, and we are here to help you overcome whatever catastrophes you may have faced. Contact us today and let us help you get back to your normal life.