Buildings in Gainesville often experience problems from water entering unwanted locations. High humidity, groundwater, and frequent rain can cause water intrusion damage to homes and commercial structures. It is not surprising that we affectionately call the University of Florida football stadium “The Swamp.”
It can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more to find the source of the water intrusion, fix the leak, and repair the damage. Uncorrected water intrusion can lead to rot, toxic mold, and structural problems. If your property insurance is denying your claim for water intrusion damage, you might need to work with a water intrusion damage property claim lawyer in Gainesville to get a fair settlement.
Call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine at 1 (800) 747-3733 to get started.
Water Intrusion and How to Prevent it
All buildings come into contact with water. Rain and storms pelt the roof, doors, windows, and exterior walls with water. When everything works as it should, the building’s structure should keep the rainwater out. When rain gets in through breaks in the exterior, the water can travel inside of walls great distances from the site of the leak.
Pipes carry water and other liquids in and out of buildings. When these pipes maintain their integrity, all is well. If they leak, the parts of the building around the pipes can get damaged.
Groundwater can seep into a home if the house is not waterproofed or if the waterproofing fails. Wet crawl spaces can be a source of water damage. Also, when exterior walls that should be above grade are actually below grade, water intrusion damage can take place.
Causes of Water Intrusion Damage
A building with water intrusion can become what the industry calls a “sick” building, which is one with rotting components and dangerous conditions like toxic mold. People who live and work in these structures can develop severe and sometimes fatal illnesses, as supported by scientific research similar to a 2017 study from Frontiers in Immunology.
Errors made during the design or construction of the building can make it likely the structure will have problems with water intrusion. For example:
- Building plans without sufficient focus on waterproofing for our climate
- Incorrect assembly of the structure such that parts of the building have gaps
- Failure to apply sealants correctly
- Use of wet materials, such as lumber that did not dry out completely after a rainstorm
- Sloppy installation of windows, doors, or other exterior components
Those buildings can develop water intrusion problems within months or a few years of construction. Older structures have water intrusion problems for different reasons, such as:
- Substandard repairs from previous storm damage
- Wear and tear over time on components like the roof, sealants, windows, and doors
- Leaks that the property owner does not notice until the damage becomes significant. For example, roof leaks can cause extensive damage to the attic and areas inside the walls before the problem becomes visible.
Insurance companies often try to deny coverage for water intrusion in a newer building, placing the blame on the contractor. With an older home, the insurer might allege that the damage happened years before the homeowner bought the current insurance policy.
Establishing Who Is Responsible for Water Intrusion Damage
You should not have to act like a detective to get your homeowner’s or commercial property insurer to pay for covered damage to your structure. Sometimes it is impossible to prove who—if anyone—was negligent and caused the problem with your building.
If your policy covers the damage to your building, the insurer should pay the loss. The insurance company can elect to go after a third party to pay the insurer back for the money paid on your claim if there is clear evidence of liability of that third party.
Three Things to Do if You Have Water Intrusion Damage to Your Gainesville Property
Dealing with water intrusion damage can quickly reach tens of thousands of dollars or even six figures as you:
- Hire a top-notch professional to find all the sources of the leaks
- Fix the building components that are allowing the water intrusion
- Repair all the damage from the water
- Remove any toxic mold
- Prevent future water intrusion
As a result of the high costs, insurers tend to play hardball on these claims, wrongfully denying coverage or taking a long time to process and pay the losses. Every situation is different, and you should do what makes sense in your circumstance. Here are some suggestions of things you might want to consider when you have a water intrusion property damage claim:
- Talk to a lawyer right away. A lawyer who handles these types of claims can help you avoid falling prey to the insurer’s tactics. Also, the adjuster from the insurance company might not try the same tricks on a lawyer that he would with someone who tried to handle the property damage claim without legal representation.
- Pay attention to deadlines. An insurer will be happy to deny your claim based on procedural reasons, regardless of how solid your claim seems. Make sure that you notify your insurance carrier immediately when you notice the water or mold problem.
- Use the forms that your insurance company requires. Another loophole that some insurers use to try to deny legitimate claims is to say that the policyholder submitted the wrong form. Make sure that all professionals you hire, like public adjusters, appraisers, and people who write repair estimates also use the forms your insurer requires.
A water intrusion damage property claim lawyer in Gainesville can help you navigate through the claims process and avoid common pitfalls.
What Not to Do After Water Intrusion Property Damage
When you deal with an insurance company, they are quick to find any reason to deny your claim. Be aware of these common mistakes that can hurt the value of your claim:
- Do not provide a recorded statement. The insurer can twist your words to try to pay you less money or deny your claim. If the adjuster asks for a recorded statement, tell him to talk to your lawyer.
- Do not accept a wrongful denial for your claim or less than you feel your policy provides for your loss. Once you sign the paperwork resolving your claim, there is usually no turning back and asking for more money. Having a lawyer negotiate with the insurance carrier to pursue a fair settlement or file a lawsuit on your behalf can often result in a better outcome.
- Do not post any photos or comments about the water damage or the insurance company on social media. Many people memorialize events from daily life on social media. However, doing so when you are in the midst of a property damage claim can backfire on you.
These are but a few suggestions of mistakes that can harm your water intrusion property damage claim. Your water intrusion damage property claim lawyer in Gainesville can provide additional advice and guidance if you think your insurance company violated your rights under the Florida Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights.
Getting Legal Help for Your Gainesville Water Intrusion Property Damage Claim
At the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, we go the extra mile for our clients. Call us today at 1 (800) 747-3733 for a free consultation.