Month: June 2018

DFW Hailstorm

DFW Hailstorm Caused An Estimated $1 Billion In Insured Losses

On June 6, a massive hailstorm swept through the Dallas-Fort Worth area causing damage to thousands of homes and businesses. In the weeks since the storm, property owners have been working diligently to get repairs underway, but it won’t be a quick process. The Insurance Council of Texas reported the hail damaged an estimated 20,000 properties.

While some areas only received small sized hail, golf-ball and baseball-sized hail rocked through Dallas, Tarrant, and Denton Counties. According to Boston-based catastrophe modeler Karen Clark & Co., the June 6 hailstorm caused nearly $1 billion in insured damages. Damage was most significant for roofs, windows, skylights, solar panels, HVAC systems, satellite dishes, and any other equipment located on the roof.

For most property owners, hail damage is a covered loss under their insurance policies; however, that doesn’t mean insurance companies will be quick to pay out. Natural disasters like the June 6 hailstorm present huge losses for insurance companies. These companies often do everything in their power to minimize paying out on claims. There are various bad faith tactics insurance companies use to minimize or deny claims, but the most common tactics include:

  • Blaming covered damage on inadequate maintenance to the property
  • Blaming covered damage on regular wear and tear to the property
  • Wrongly claiming some damage is not covered under the policy when in fact it is
  • Failing to provide an estimate of damages to the insured
  • Failing to engage appropriate experts to evaluate damage
  • Causing unnecessary delays

Don’t Face The Insurance Company Alone

If you own commercial property, you can’t afford to go back and forth with the insurance company only to get a fraction of what repairs will cost. To get full compensation under your policy, you need to speak with an experienced insurance attorney who can hold the insurance company responsible.

At Raizner Slania LLP, our lawyers have earned nationwide recognition for helping policyholders fight for their rightful claims against insurance companies that operate in bad faith. Please contact us today for a free initial consultation. We handle all bad faith insurance cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will not pay attorney’s fees unless we help you recover on your claim.

NCAA Concussion Litigation

NCAA Concussion Lawsuit Settles After Three Days In Court

Although many NCAA concussion lawsuits have been filed in courts across the country, it wasn’t until early this month that one of these cases finally made it to trial. Debra Hardin-Ploetz would have finally been able to share the tragic story of her late husband who was diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE after his death. Although nothing can reverse her or her late husband’s suffering, Ms. Hardin-Ploetz did get some justice as her case settled just three days into the trial.

Ms. Hardin-Ploetz’s late husband, Greg Ploetz, played as a linebacker and defensive tackle for the University of Texas at Austin football team from 1968 to 1971. Later in his life, Mr. Ploetz suffered from a myriad of neurological issues, including depression and memory loss. Research connecting the concussions sustained during football and long-term neurological issues has existed since the 1970s; however, the NCAA and universities ignored this evidence for decades.

The settlement came after hearing testimony from several witnesses. The jury listened to Boston University neurologist Dr. Robert Cantu discuss his concussion research with football players and explain the effects of repeated impacts on the brain to an individual’s long-term health and wellbeing. The jury also considered the deposition of the NCAA’s Chief Medical Officer, neurologist Brain Hainline, in which Dr. Hainline acknowledged the link between concussions sustained while playing football and long-term degenerative brain disorders.

It is no coincidence that the NCAA agreed to settle the case out of court immediately after the jury heard compelling evidence from both Dr. Cantu and Dr. Hainline. Although this only represents the resolution of one case, the NCAA is facing many more concussion lawsuits and may decide to settle the remaining cases, bringing just a little bit of peace to injured players and their loved ones.

NCAA Concussion Litigation

The experienced concussion lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP are representing former college football players and other athletes in lawsuits against the NCAA and other responsible parties. If you played collegiate football, contact us immediately to learn your legal rights and hold the NCAA responsible. All of our consultations are free, and we work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t owe us anything unless we help you recover compensation.

Hurricane Harvey Damage Report

Harris County Flood Control District Releases Final Hurricane Harvey Damage Report

It’s been nearly a year since Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and the rest of the Texas coast, and many are still recovering While all hurricanes cause significant damage, Harvey was particularly unique in that the storm stalled soon after it made landfall and dropped an unprecedented amount of rainfall. The Harris County Flood Control District has been working to collect and analyze data and recently released its final report on flood damage.

Unprecedented Rainfall

From August 25 through August 29, 2017, Hurricane Harvey dropped between 26 and 47 inches of rain across Harris County. This represents a trillion gallons of water. If you’re wondering just how much a trillion gallons of water is, it’s enough water to run Niagara Falls for 15 whole days.

According to the Harris County Flood Control District, this much water flooded 154,170 homes across Harris County, which is about 9% to 12% of the total number of buildings in the entire county. This number is particularly devastating considering nearly half of all of the homes flooded were outside of both the 100 and 500 year floodplains. After unprecedented rainfall, Hurricane Harvey ended up being the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history, right behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 

Reservoir Flooding

With such large amounts of rainfall during and after Hurricane Harvey, Houston’s reservoirs and bayous quickly filled up and started flooding. In particular, the Addicks and Barker reservoirs caused catastrophic flooding to homes and businesses both upstream and downstream of the reservoirs. Property owners upstream of these reservoirs had no idea they were located in Addicks and Barker dry reservoirs and were shocked to learn land developers built homes in these dangerous areas. Properties downstream of the reservoirs also suffered serious flooding when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided to begin controlled dam releases to reduce the amount of pressure on the dams and prevent total failure.

Still Recovering After Hurricane Harvey

It’s going to take several more years for Houston to completely recover from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey. Raizner Slania LLP is a local Houston law firm helping Hurricane Harvey victims with a wide variety of claims. If your insurance company is denying your Hurricane Harvey property damage claim, or if your property was flooded by the reservoirs, contact us today to learn your legal options.

Houston Hurricane Lawyers

2018 Hurricane Season Forecast and Preparedness

The start of Hurricane Season on June 1st had many Houstonians worried. It’s been less than a year since Hurricane Harvey caused devastation across the city and throughout Texas, and many people still live with constant reminders of the storm’s damage. Each year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides a forecast of the upcoming Hurricane Season, and this year the agency had a few interesting insights.

An Average Hurricane Season

NOAA reported that the 2018 Hurricane Season has a 75% chance of being normal or slightly above normal. But what exactly does normal mean? To the NOAA, normal still means Houston could weather a few storms. A normal or average hurricane season includes 12 named storms, six of which become hurricanes, and three of those hurricanes become major hurricanes (category three and above). Currently, the NOAA is predicting approximately ten to 16 named storms, with five to nine of them developing into hurricanes, and one to four could develop into major hurricanes.

Preparing For Hurricanes

Even though this year’s Hurricane Season isn’t currently predicted to be particularly active, it only takes one major hurricane to cause catastrophic damage. For this reason, everyone should make some preparations in the event of a major storm. Here are a few helpful tips to get you ready for the upcoming Hurricane Season:

  1. In case of an evacuation, have a plan ready, including where you will go, what routes you’ll take to get there, and what you will take with you. If you have pets, you may need to make separate arrangements for them.
  2. Stock up on extra water bottles and nonperishable food. Hurricanes have the potential to cause catastrophic damage to infrastructure. You may not have electricity or clean drinking water immediately after a storm, and even if you do, the roads may be damaged or blocked, preventing you from getting to a store.
  3. Closely monitor changing weather conditions. Battery powered or crank radios are ideal for monitoring weather conditions because they don’t rely on an electrical source or Internet connection.
  4. Make sure loved ones know where you are and how to contact you. All natural disasters are incredibly disruptive, so plan ahead and make sure other family members know how to reach you and keep them updated on your whereabouts.

Houston Hurricane Lawyers

At Raizner Slania LLP, we understand the challenges of rebuilding after a hurricane. Most people believe their property and belongings are protected under insurance policies, but the reality is that insurance companies are often less than honest when handling natural disaster claims, which can rob policyholders of coverage and slow down recovery. If you are still struggling with your insurance company over your Hurricane Harvey damage insurance claim, call the Houston hurricane lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP today.

Hurricane Harvey Insurance Claim

Houston Is About To Get $1 Billion In FEMA Funding, But It’s Not Nearly Enough

It’s been nearly ten months since Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas, but complete recovery is still a long way away. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has promised Houston recovery funds, but according to estimates the amount won’t be anywhere near enough.

The city of Houston released an action plan and summary last week that detailed exactly how the city will spend over $1 billion in FEMA long-term housing aid. Although $1 billion is by no means a meager sum, according to FEMA’s own estimates, this represents less than one-third of what Houston still needs to recover. According to the City of Houston, even after receiving $1 billion of FEMA funds, the city will still have an “unmet housing need” of approximately $2.3 billion.

As staggering as an additional $2.3 billion is, many argue that estimate severely underestimates the needs of displaced Houstonians. To better gauge where Hurricane Harvey victims are in the recovery process, the General Land Office and researchers at the University of Texas at Austin are extensively surveying counties declared disaster areas. Researchers want to know whether victims are still displaced and exactly how much damage remains to be fixed in their homes.

While FEMA helps provide immediate and short-term housing options for victims displaced by natural disasters, there are far fewer long-term options. Rebuilding homes and businesses could take years, and many victims can feel forgotten and hopeless as news coverage and community support slowly fades.

Insurance Companies Slowing Down Recovery

Some Houstonians were fortunate enough to have property insurance to cover the damage wrought by Hurricane Harvey. Unfortunately, surplus lines insurers dominate the Texas commercial property insurance market, and these carriers are in no hurry to pay out on claims. A surplus lines insurer is not really an insurance company – it’s more like a file cabinet. Insurers enter into insurance contracts with foreign entities not licensed to operate in Texas. These foreign entities don’t have offices in the state or often in the entire country. They collect insurance premiums, but when it comes time to process and handle claims, there’s no one to do it. These foreign entities then rely on third party claims adjusters who are incentivized to minimize the value of insurance claims as much as possible. In the end, the policyholders are left hung out to dry with grossly underpaid or downright denied claims.

Get Help With Your Hurricane Harvey Insurance Claim

Although state and federal agencies are still struggling to understand the full extent of the impact Harvey had on the city, Houstonians understand it all to well. Many of our homes remain uninhabitable and businesses have yet to reopen their doors. Raizner Slania LLP is a local Houston law firm representing Hurricane Harvey victims in a wide array of insurance claims. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options.

Commercial Property Hail Damage Lawyers

Hailstorm Devastates DFW Area

For most people, last Wednesday, June 6th was pretty unremarkable. Unfortunately for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the early morning was marked by a catastrophic hailstorm. Many places in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and North Texas suffered hail damage, including the cities of Coppell, Carrollton, Arlington, Irving, Frisco, and Farmers Branch.

The storm caused widespread damage and turned severe just after midnight. At 12:30 a.m., the National Weather Service released warnings for portions of Denton and Collin Counties. The storm continued to move southwest, moving through the Dallas-Fort Worth area dumping large chunks of hail along the way. Early Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service recorded wind gusts at DFW airport at 59 miles per hour.

The reports of hail size varied from 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter in places like southeast Arlington to softball-sized hail in parts of Coppell and Carrollton. For property owners, even small pieces of hail can cause serious damage. Hail can damage roofs, creating openings for rainfall that damage interiors. Hail can also damage other building components like HVAC systems, which can require costly repairs.

Filing A Commercial Property Hail Damage Claim

While most commercial property owners have insurance policies to protect against hail damage, it’s important to understand how insurance companies might try to minimize paying out on claims. Storms like the one that caused widespread damage in the DFW area cost insurance companies millions. To avoid paying out, insurance companies might use a variety of bad faith tactics. Oftentimes insurance companies will claim the damage to a property is just regular wear and tear or due to inadequate maintenance. Other times insurance companies will misrepresent the terms of their policies, claiming certain hail damage isn’t covered when in fact it is. For commercial property owners, talking to an experienced bad faith insurance lawyer can help make sure you get what you are rightfully entitled to under your policy.

Commercial Property Hail Damage Lawyers

When policyholders regularly pay their insurance premiums, they deserve full coverage under their policies. At Raizner Slania LLP, we have extensive experience taking on large insurance companies and obtaining successful outcomes for our clients. Call one of our commercial property hail damage lawyers today for a free consultation to discuss your case.