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Recent Florida Appeals Case Means More Challenges for Victims of Sinkhole Damage

Pekar Law, P.A. March 10, 2014

Home and commercial property owners in Florida have faced an unfriendly legal environment when confronted with sinkhole damage. Dealing with an insurance company is rarely simple, and this truth was exacerbated by state laws requiring property owners to demonstrate “structural damage” in order to have a compensable insurance claim. In March of this year, the court system dealt policyholders an additional blow.

In the court case Citizens Property Insurance Corporation v. Trapeo, the Florida Second District Court of Appeal recognized the validity of Citizens’ “notice of stay of litigation pending neutral evaluation.” The result of this judicial opinion will be, in theory, a chance for the parties to resolve their differences out of court. The result in practice, however, will likely by more delays for the policyholder, who has experienced significant sinkhole-related property damage. The opinion will also likely lead to more delays in other sinkhole cases, as judges await the neutral evaluator’s findings.

As the lowering of the water table in the Tampa area and across Florida affects more and more homes and businesses, and as legislation and court precedent continue to create legal challenges for sinkhole victims, it’s important that property owners obtain legal help in disputes with insurers; the insurance companies are familiar with both established and newly evolving insurance law, as well as litigation procedures and effective delay tactics. Insurers will also likely hire their own experts when investigating your sinkhole claim. A knowledgeable property damage claim attorney can provide the assistance you need by:

  • Determining whether needed testing such as ground penetrating radar, electrical resistivity testing or a standard penetration test was conducted and conducted properly

  • Questioning whether the insurer simply did a “drive by” investigation of the damage

  • Determining whether the damage was minimal and aesthetic versus structural

  • Investigating whether relevant information was overlooked

Insurance companies have little to lose by stalling or denying a claim, in hopes your claim will simply “disappear.” Don’t let your claim fade away, and don’t face expensive sinkhole damage without the insurance compensation you need and deserve. Contact us if you have any questions or have sinkhole related damage.