Month: October 2018

Hurricane Harvey Victims

Houston Finishes Comments On Hurricane Harvey Recovery Plans

For victims of Hurricane Harvey, recovery remains an ongoing process. Homes that were inundated with floodwaters are still in the process of being rebuilt, and property owners are still looking for answers from the city about how the flooding happened. Although recovery has been slow, one huge step has been completed as the city of Houston and Harris County complete a comment period on Hurricane Harvey Recovery plans.

There are currently plans to use approximately $2.3 billion in federal housing funds to help residents affected by Hurricane Harvey. The city of Houston will use $1.1 billion for recovery, and Harris County will use the remaining $1.2 million. These plans still need to be approved by the federal government, but once in place, the plans will provide the necessary funds for Houston to recover.

How The Money Will Be Utilized

Harris County has released a proposal for how the $1.2 billion will be used for recovery and prevention. The County’s proposal includes:

  • $222 million for an affordable rent program
  • $211 million for the Harris County Homeowner Assistance Program
  • $209 million in local infrastructure improvements
  • $200 million for home buyouts
  • $115 million for new single-family home construction
  • $55 million for local planning
  • $16 million in program administration cos
  • $15 million for a homeowner reimbursement program
  • $7.5 million for a homelessness prevention program

The City of Houston focused its proposal on rebuilding homes, and has divided its $1.1 billion accordingly:

  • $600 million for repairing or building single family homes
  • $375 million for repairing or building apartments

Unanswered Questions From Hurricane Harvey Victims

While federal aid will help the city rebuild and recover, the proposals don’t address the unanswered questions from the thousands of property owners affected by the Addicks and Barker reservoir releases. Many property owners learned their homes were built in a floodplain only once Hurricane Harvey’s rainfall caused their homes to flood. Homeowners downstream of the reservoirs also want to know how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will compensate them for homes destroyed by the Army Corps’ decision to begin controlled releases from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs.

Getting Help After Flooding

Raizner Law is currently helping victims of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs flooding in lawsuits against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If your home was flooded by the reservoirs, contact us today to see how we can help.

Hurricane Harvey wind damage

Texas Fast Food Restaurant Property Owner Files Hurricane Harvey Lawsuit

Raizner Law has filed a Hurricane Harvey lawsuit on behalf of a Texas fast food restaurant property owner against Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London, ICAT Syndicate 4242, and National Fire & Marine Insurance Company.

Hurricane Harvey Devastated Restaurant Properties

Our client owns six fast food restaurants in Harris, Galveston, Brazoria, and Calhoun Counties. Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on August 25, 2017 and over the next week caused devastation all along the coast. The plaintiff’s properties suffered catastrophic damage as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Sizable portions of the roofs were compromised by the storm’s high winds, which in turn resulted in damage to the interiors of the properties.

However, as devastating as the damage to the properties was, the plaintiff felt fortunate to be protected by millions of dollars in insurance coverage. Unfortunately, this sense of security borne of a pricey contractual relationship would prove illusory.

Insurance Carriers Acted in Bad Faith and Violated Texas Insurance Codes

Immediately upon discovering the damage, the plaintiff filed an insurance claim with its carriers. The carriers assigned the claim to adjusters who were unqualified and incapable of adequately assessing damage to these types of commercial properties and were the source of many delays throughout the claims process. It took months just for the properties to be inspected.

Finally, the claim was denied even though wind damage was obvious. According to the denial letter, the claim was denied because “damages found to the property do not exceed your policy deductible,” and the carriers were “unable to find a Covered Cause of Loss.”

The carriers’ conclusions, denials, and refusal to acknowledge or pay the claim were based on an outcome-oriented investigation aimed at denying the plaintiff’s claim from the outset.

Our client cites numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code, including “failure to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim,” “failure to provide promptly a reasonable explanation for the denial of a claim,” and “misrepresentation of the policy under which is affords property coverage to the policyholder.”

Raizner Law Can Help You With Your Hurricane Harvey Claims

The experienced insurance lawyers at Raizner Law believe policyholders who regularly pay their premiums deserve full protection under their policies. If your insurance company is delaying, underpaying, or denying your Hurricane Harvey insurance claim, contact us today to see how we can help.

Concussion Injury Lawyer

High School Football Player Receives Fatal Brain Injury During Game

Although football has been one of America’s most popular sports for decades, participation is slowly decreasing. Football can be extremely dangerous. Recently, a teenager in Georgia received a fatal brain injury during a football game, highlighting the dangers players face on the field.

The Tragic Outcome of an Overlooked Hit

The high school linebacker was rushed to the hospital during a Friday night game in late September. The teen was six feet tall but only 150 pounds. Players on the opposite team had players up to 265 pounds. After a hit in the third quarter, the referee stopped the game, so the teen could come off the field after a play.

Initially, the teen was brought off the field for a leg injury; however, he quickly began to experience other symptoms as his left leg and arm went numb. He eventually became unresponsive and was rushed to the hospital. Doctors undertook two surgeries to relieve the boy’s brain swelling, but after several days, he succumbed to his injuries.

What is particularly tragic about this account is the teen’s family believes it was a hit during the second quarter that caused the teen’s brain injury. The teen played through the rest of the second quarter and into the third quarter before being evaluated, and he was only evaluated because of another perceived injury.

Football Head Injuries are Causing Long-term Damage

While fatal brain injuries during football games are uncommon, players are taking hits to the head that are causing long-term damage. Football players can develop debilitating neurological conditions later in life due to their time spent on the field in younger years. Every time a brain cell dies, it releases a protein that causes damage and eventually death to other brain cells. There is no way to stop this process, so it’s incredibly important for football players to decrease the number of hits to the head.

Sports Organizations Have A Responsibility to Protect Players

Unfortunately, organizations like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) didn’t warn players the hits they take on the field could cause permanent damage. Until recent years, the NCAA did not have adequate concussion management protocols in place to protect students from serious injuries. The NCAA had a responsibility to keep players safe, but blatantly chose not to.

Former NCAA players may be able to hold the NCAA accountable for its negligence. Raizner Law is helping former NCAA football players file lawsuits against the NCAA to obtain compensation for their injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your legal options and how we can help.

Hurricane Harvey Claim

Harris County Approves New Flood Plain Maps, But Will They Come Too Late?

Harris County learned a devastating lesson during Hurricane Harvey, when widespread flooding destroyed thousands of homes and businesses. Property owners learned too late that the maps outlining Houston’s flood plains were wildly out of date – and they were in the storm’s line of fire for flooding. Harris County is working to update these maps, but will they come too late for property owners?

Out Of Date Flood Maps

Flood maps utilize rainfall data to help predict the likelihood of flooding. Flood plain maps help determine where homes are allowed to be built, the cost of flood insurance, and locations for flood control projects. Unfortunately, some areas of the Harris County flood map hadn’t been updated with rainfall data since 2001. To address the outdated maps, Harris County has committed $14.5 million to update the county’s flood plain maps. The county has accepted $6.5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help pay for the new maps and will be contributing $8 million of its own funds.

Although funds have been set aside for new flood plain maps, many are worried they won’t be available fast enough to help Houstonians. The maps are currently scheduled to be completed in 2023. This means Harris County residents will have to face at least four more hurricane seasons without updated flood information. While the city has been spared by any catastrophic storms so far this hurricane season, there’s no telling if we will get this lucky in the years to come.

Houston Still Struggling Through Recovery

While some affected by Hurricane Harvey have been able to rebuild completely, others are still struggling. Homes flooded by the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs dam releases are still waiting for their day in court with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Many other property owners are fighting with insurance companies over damages.

Have Questions About A Hurricane Harvey Claim?

If you are struggling with your insurance company over your Hurricane Harvey insurance claim or if the Addicks or Barker reservoirs flooded your home, contact Raizner Law today. We are proud to represent Hurricane Harvey victims and their families and help them rebuild. Contact us today for a free consultation.

dangers of concussions

High School Football Participation Is Decreasing After Mounting Concussion Research

For decades, football has been the most popular sport in America. Thousands of children across the country grew up playing football, many with a dream that one day they would play college football or even make it to the National Football League (NFL). However, football’s popularity is quickly decreasing in children, and this is due in part to mounting research about the dangers of concussions sustained during play.

Ten Years of Decline

Studies showing the dangerous long-term effects of concussions sustained while playing football have existed since the 1970s; however, it hasn’t been until the last ten years that high school football participation has decreased. According to the National Federation of High School Associations’ athletic participation survey, there has been a 6.5% decrease in 11-player football participation from its peak in 2009-2010 to the 2017-2018 school year.

A Dangerous Sport

Football is a contact sport and players frequently take hits to their bodies and their heads. For years, young kids were told to “shake it off” and keep playing, but research shows these concussive and sub-concussive hits are extremely damaging, particularly to young adults whose brains are still developing. When an individual suffers a concussion, brain cells die and release Tau proteins, or T-proteins. Over time, T-proteins actually cause more brain cells to die.

When a person suffers continual impacts to the head, T-proteins build up so much that they can cause degenerative neurological diseases such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), among others. Since there is no way to stop T-proteins from harming additional brain cells, it is incredibly important to prevent them from building up in the first place.

NCAA Failures Put Students At Risk

Fewer high school football players means less future neurological conditions. Organizations like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) didn’t warn student athletes that playing the game could have long-term consequences; and, now these former students are suffering from Dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS, among other debilitating neurological conditions. The NCAA had a duty to protect student athletes and they let students down.

Get Help With Your NCAA Lawsuit

If you played football for an NCAA regulated team, contact Raizner Law today. We can explain your legal options and help you hold the NCAA accountable.

Reservoir Claim

Study Finds 100-Year Rain Events Will Strike Houston More Often

We use terms like “100-year events” to help understand the likelihood of certain weather events. However, they really only work if they’re accurate. According to new research, Houston needs to be prepared for more rain events. This is particularly concerning considering Houston has not been able to make much progress in flood mitigation in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

100-Year Rain Events

A 100-year rain event can be thought of in two ways: (1) the rain event on average would occur once every one hundred years or (2) the rain event has a 1% chance of happening every year. A 1% chance is pretty low, but according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Houston’s 100-year rain events are occurring more frequently.

A 100-year rain event can drop 13 inches of water in a 24-hour period. According to a study by NOAA, these events are closer to a 25-year event. This means that in any given year, there is a 25% chance a rain event will drop 13 inches of rain in 24 hours. Those chances are a lot worse.

The increase in rain events led the NOAA to redefine 100-year rain events for the Houston area – they are now defined by rainfall of up to 18 inches in 24 hours.

Hurricane Harvey Drops Unprecedented Rainfall

NOAA’s updating of 100-year flood events isn’t surprising for Texans who withstood Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. The National Hurricane Center determined the flooding brought on by Hurricane Harvey was greater than a 1,000-year event, the highest level that’s ever been calculated. Regardless of the odds, Hurricane Harvey happened and Houston – as well as the rest of Texas – wasn’t prepared.

Two of Houston’s reservoirs, the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, were unable to hold the rainfall dropped by Hurricane Harvey. Not only did these reservoirs fill nearly to full capacity, causing flooding of thousands of homes, but controlled releases were needed to prevent catastrophic dam failure which caused flooding downstream. Houstonians can expect future rain events to cause serious property damage and the city isn’t prepared.

Get Help With Your Reservoir Claim

Houston residents upstream and downstream of the reservoirs released in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey saw first hand how unprepared Houston was for a catastrophic rain event. If the Addicks or Barker reservoir flooded your home, contact Raizner Law today. We can help explain your legal options and pursue compensation.