Category: Hurricane Harvey Claims

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.

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.

hurricane Harvey insurance lawsuit

Commercial Building Owner Files Hurricane Harvey Insurance Lawsuit Against Underwriters at Lloyd’s

Raizner Slania LLP has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Harris County commercial building owner against Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London after its Hurricane Harvey Insurance claim was wrongfully denied under Texas law.

Hurricane Harvey Drops Unprecedented Rainfall

When Hurricane Harvey made landfall off the Texas coast in late August 2017, few anticipated how much rain the slow moving storm would drop across Texas. Hurricane Harvey’s extreme winds and rain caused substantial damage to our client’s commercial property. Wind compromised sizable portions of the property’s roof, which caused water intrusion and interior damage. Overall, the roof, insulation, ceilings, interiors, and electrical components of the structure were damaged.

Despite substantial damage, the plaintiff felt fortunate to have an insurance policy that would cover the cost of repairs. Immediately after the storm, the plaintiff promptly filed a claim with Underwriters, alerting them to the extensive damages.

Unfortunately, Underwriters’ claims-handling process resulted in a wrongful denial that omitted a wealth of facts, physical evidence, obvious wind damage, and meteorological data from Hurricane Harvey supporting the plaintiff’s claim. Underwriters unreasonably pinned the loss on anything but the wind, an action designed to save the insurer hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to the property and the business.

The plaintiff hired its own public adjuster to estimate repair costs; however, Underwriters and its preferred vendor, Vericlaim, Inc., ignored the estimates provided by the public adjuster. Although Underwriters has, to date, provided no clear documentation of its inspection or findings, it denied the claim in full on December 26, 2017.

In its Denial Letter, Underwriters quoted the opinions of an engineer it claims to have hired to support its conclusions. If any estimates were in fact prepared, none of those documents or explanations were provided to the plaintiff. Instead, Underwriters simply denied the claim and closed the file.

Underwriters at Lloyd’s Violated The Texas Insurance Code

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 promptly provide a reasonable explanation for the denial of a claim, and refusal to pay the claim without conducting a reasonable investigation.

Hurricane Harvey Lawyers

Texans experienced catastrophic losses in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. As if the physical damage wasn’t severe enough, Texans are now facing dishonest insurance companies that are wrongfully denying claims and preventing Texans from rebuilding. If you are struggling with your insurance company with regard to a Hurricane Harvey claim, don’t wait to contact us to learn your rights.

Hurricane Harvey Reservoir Flooding

Hurricane Harvey Upstream and Downstream Reservoir Claims Move Forward To Trial

Raizner Slania LLP is representing homeowners who were flooded as a result of the Addicks and Barker reservoir releases in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Both homes upstream and downstream of the reservoirs suffered catastrophic flood damage as a direct result of the actions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There are a number of lawsuits against the Army Corps of Engineers to recover damages caused to properties; and, while the federal government has tried to have the lawsuits dismissed, judges overseeing the litigation have kept the lawsuits moving forward.

Federal Government Files For Dismissal

In February, the government filed motions to dismiss in both the Downstream and Upstream sub-docket claims regarding flooding caused by the Addicks and Barker reservoirs. The government essentially made three arguments for dismissal:

  1. There was not a constitutional taking of land because the government was “merely acting to mitigate or minimize an inevitable harm to the public” (both downstream and upstream);
  2. Plaintiffs lack a protected property interest in the property purportedly taken. In the downstream case, there is no right to keep land downstream of a flood-control dam free from floodwaters during an extreme storm; and, in the upstream case, there is no right to keep one’s land free from waters backing up from a flood control dam; and
  3. The court does not have jurisdiction over the claims because the case should be brought as a tort, not as a Fifth Amendment takings case (both downstream and upstream).

Essentially, the federal government argued these cases did not represent violations of the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment prohibits the government from taking private land for public use. In the Addicks and Barker Reservoir cases, property owners claim the Army Corps of Engineers intentionally allowed their homes to flood to prevent catastrophic damn failure from flooding much of downtown Houston. Property owners claim allowing their homes to flood constituted a taking of private land for public use.

Recently, both Chief Judge Braden (presiding over the Downstream sub-docket) and Judge Lettow (presiding over the Upstream sub-docket) issued orders deferring ruling on the federal government’s motions to dismiss until trial.

In the same order deferring her ruling on the motion to dismiss, Judge Braden set the trial for the 15 downstream test properties beginning April 8, 2019, and set various other deadlines for discovery and experts. The government has moved for reconsideration of this ruling, contending (among other things) the court should rule on the motion to dismiss before discovery closes. This motion for reconsideration faces long odds of success.

Although Judge Lettow technically deferred ruling on the motion to dismiss in the upstream case, he (unlike Judge Braden) addressed each of the government’s legal arguments in turn. Judge Lettow found in favor of the plaintiffs in nearly all respects. Two passages of his opinion were particularly favorable for the plaintiffs: In one, he specifically recognized the government “misstated Texas property law” with regard to flood control measures, citing a Texas Supreme Court case recognizing “where the government made a conscious decision to subject particular properties to inundation so that other properties would be spared, as happens when a government builds a flood-control dam knowing that certain properties will be flooded by the resulting reservoir[,] . . . of course the government must compensate the owners who lose their land to the reservoir.”

In his second point, Judge Lettow rejected the government’s argument that the plaintiffs cannot state a takings claim simply because the reservoirs were built decades ago. Judge Lettow focused on the government’s action in building and modifying the dams “in such a way that they could and did impound storm water behind the dams on both government and private property. That the government’s action bore fruit or had consequences only some years later does not obviate the reality that action, not inaction, is at issue.” Judge Lettow then entered a scheduling order setting trial for the 14 upstream test properties beginning February 19, 2019.

Although neither Judge Braden nor Judge Lettow explicitly denied the government’s motion to dismiss the cases, their rulings are helpful because they allow the plaintiffs to proceed with discovery. Judge Lettow’s opinion in particular gives reason for optimism because he explicitly rejected several of the government’s legal theories. We remain optimistic that the Courts will ultimately deny the motions, and allow us to proceed with trial on a full factual record for the test properties chosen in both cases in the Spring of 2019.

Get Help With Your Hurricane Harvey Reservoir Flooding Claim

The experienced lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP are working with property owners whose homes were flooded by the Addicks and Barker reservoirs. Our lawyers understand the unique legal complexities of each type of claim and are fighting hard for clients to help them rebuild. If your property was flooded, either downstream or upstream of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, call us immediately to discuss your reservoir claim.

Hurricane Harvey Wind Damage Lawyer

Galveston Condominium Association Files Hurricane Harvey Insurance Lawsuit

Raizner Slania LLP has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a condominium association against Texas Windstorm Insurance Association after its Galveston County Hurricane Harvey wind damage insurance claim was wrongfully denied.

Hurricane Harvey Slams Into Texas Coast

Hurricane Harvey came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane and devastated the Texas coast. When Hurricane Harvey swept through Galveston, Texas, the city and its inhabitants experienced severe gusts of wind up to 54 miles per hour. As a result of Hurricane Harvey’s devastating winds, the building suffered damage to the interiors, exteriors, lighting, elevators, security cameras, and roofing systems, among other components. Immediately upon discovering the damage, the plaintiff filed an insurance claim with Texas Windstorm and asked that the cost of repairs be covered pursuant to the policy.

In response to the claim, Texas Windstorm sent an adjuster to the property on September 29, 2017, who personally observed substantial wind damage resulting from Hurricane Harvey. However, Texas Windstorm relied upon an engineer from BSC Forensics who concluded the damage was not storm related, but instead resulted from long-term trapped moisture, installation deficiencies, and other excuses.

Despite clear evidence of covered damage, Texas Windstorm engaged in and ratified this improper claims conduct and ultimately approved a gross underpayment of the contractual damages. Texas Windstorm instead unreasonably blamed the loss on causes other than wind to avoid contractual responsibilities and to save in excess of $1,000,000. The plaintiff cooperated throughout the claim process and even had consultants meticulously point out the extent of the damages covered by the subject policy.

Texas Windstorm chose to ignore obvious damages to the property. The plaintiff was forced to hire its own representative and demand re-inspections and re-evaluations of the obvious damages to the property that Texas Windstorm ignored.

Texas Windstorm Violated The Texas Insurance Code

Our client alleges Texas Windstorm violated the Texas Insurance Code by failing to adequately pay the claim as it is obligated to do under the terms of the policy in question and under the laws in the State of Texas. Our client also claims Texas Windstorm mishandled the plaintiff’s claim to their detriment by intentionally failing to meet the deadlines or timelines established under subchapter L-1 of Chapter 2210 of the Texas Insurance Code.

Hurricane Harvey Wind Damage Lawyer

Insurance companies have no right to wrongfully deny or underpay valid claims. If you did not receive fair compensation from your Hurricane Harvey wind damage insurance claim, contact Raizner Slania LLP today. Our experienced insurance lawyers can help you get what you deserve under your policy. Call us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

Bridge City Hurricane Harvey Claims

Bridge City Slow To Recover After Hurricane Harvey

Residents of Bridge City, Texas were wary as Hurricane Harvey made landfall and slowly made its way along the Texas coast. Flooding has been problematic for Bridge City in the past, but nothing could prepare residents for the unprecedented rainfall dropped by Harvey.

On the night of August 30, 2017, Bridge City was absolutely inundated with floodwaters, causing widespread damage. The past twenty-four hours had seen over 20 inches of rainfall. By the time Harvey was working its way toward Southeast Texas, it was a slow-moving storm, meaning everywhere in Harvey’s path would be drenched in rainfall for several days before Harvey moved on.

Harvey’s flooding was compounded by the fact that trash and debris clogged the city’s drainage system, preventing rainwaters from draining properly. City officials estimate 90% of the flooding in Bridge City was due to its clogged drainage systems. This resulted in homes and businesses being flooded for several days before the floodwaters finally subsided.

Much of Bridge City suffered catastrophic damage from Hurricane Harvey. After Harvey passed through the small Texas city, the streets were lined with huge piles of debris as property owners immediately began trying to salvage their homes and businesses and prevent further damage. Unfortunately, much of Bridge City is still struggling. Although it’s been more than six months since Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast, recovery has been particularly slow.

Hurricane Harvey victims in Bridge City are discovering insurance companies are less than honest when handling and paying out on Hurricane Harvey claims. An insurance company is first and foremost a business, so natural disasters will cause it to pay out millions or even billions of dollars of claims. To minimize payouts, insurance companies often use bad faith tactics.

Insurance companies have been misrepresenting policies, undervaluing damages, and outright denying valid claims. Without proper payouts from their insurance companies, property owners have been financially unable to completely rebuild. For policyholders struggling with a Bridge City Hurricane Harvey claim, the only way to receive rightful compensation is by partnering with an experienced insurance lawyer.

Bridge City Hurricane Harvey Claims

The experienced insurance lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP have helped victims of bad faith insurance tactics throughout Texas and across the country. We are working with many Hurricane Harvey victims to help them get what they are rightfully owed under their insurance policies. Call us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim. There is no upfront cost for working with us. We work on a contingency fee basis so you won’t owe us anything unless we help you recover compensation.