MY HOME WAS DAMAGED IN TPC EXPLOSION – DO I NEED A LAWYER?

Maybe, just not now.  Look, I am a lawyer who for the last 15 years has handled property damage claims for homeowners.  My firm has 3 lawyers with years of experience evaluating insurance claims for property damage.  Since we charge a percentage for the recovery we make for our clients, the more clients and recovery, the more money for us.  BUT –  and this is a loud BUT – I do not need to be involved in the claim until there is a dispute.  Otherwise, I would be charging my clients for money that they would have recovered EVEN IF I DID NOT REPRESENT THEM.  So….to answer the question, you may, at some point, need a lawyer.  I can see insurance companies and TPC limiting payouts on some of the structural damage because an engineer they hired claimed the damage was caused by “prior foundation movement, etc., etc.  We do some pretty neat things on property claims and have a firm that is tops in the State.  We have verdicts and awards from Orange to Beaumont to Fort Bend to Bryan to Amarillo – and have NEVER lost in trial to the insurance companies.  I am not aware of ANY other law firm in the State that can claim that.  We have a team of experts, like structural forensic engineers and cost estimators, that we retain who help us fight toe-to-toe with the insurance company.

But, all that being said, you don’t need us right now.  Maybe you will, maybe you won’t.  I just returned from visiting a dear friend in Port Neches, in Zone 1, on Gloria St. and told them the same thing.  So, here is what you do need to do regarding your insurance claim:

  1. FILE your claim – call your agent or insurance company and open a claim – it is their responsibility to investigate your claim for damages.
  2. DOCUMENT your damages
    1. Take photos of your damage – every crack, blown door, loose trim, flashing, siding, etc.;
    2. Video your damages as you walk through;
    3. Keep looking – It is not uncommon to find new damage days later;
    4. Make a list – in a good old spiral bound notebook or your Notes app if you are a techie;
    5. If you have surveillance cameras, save the videos from the time of the explosions (first and second explosions); and
    6. Talk to your immediate neighbors to see what damage they suffered – they may see something you don’t and you may find the same damage – compare notes.
  3. COOPERATE with your insurance company –
    1. Make your home available for inspection;
    2. Be there for the inspection;
    3. Identify all the areas you have documented; and
    4. Ask the adjuster to get in the attic to check the structural components of the roof.
  4. PAYMENT OF CLAIM. Your insurance company has the following timelines:
    1. 15 days to acknowledge receipt of your claim, commence an investigation, and request from you all items they need to complete the investigation.
    2. After that, they have 15 business days to accept or reject your claim.
    3. If they accept, from the time of acceptance, they have 5 business days to pay your claim. Delays in payment can result in statutory penalties. The insurance company can request an extension of time for up to 45 days.
  5. DISPUTE with insurance company
    1. If you feel like the amount is not enough to repair your damages, contact your insurance company and let them know
    2. Secure your own bid for the damages
    3. Request another adjustment

If after step 5 you still have been underpaid for your claim, call us!  We are happy to help.  In fact, you can call us (for FREE) at any point along the way – like, if you want us to look at the estimate from the insurance company.  We have looked at thousands of these estimates and can sort through them quickly.  At no charge, we are happy to review the estimate you get from either TPC or your insurance company.

We have a proven track record of success. Take a look at some of our representative verdicts and settlements for policyholders:

  • Insurance company paid $5k, we won $1.88 million for the First Baptist Church, Vidor, TX
  • Insurance company denied a claim for a homeowner, we fought for 20+ days in trial for a homeowner who had policy limits of $52,500 and won an $850k verdict and fought it all the way to the Supreme Court of Texas (and won!).

    Clint Brasher and Joe Muckleroy with Latosha Lewis. We fought 23 days for her in court and appealed up to the Supreme Court.

  • Insurance company denied claim for a duplex in College Station whose damages were $79K; we won a verdict after an 8-day trial for $370k.
  • Insurance company said “loss under deductible” we worked case up and settled for policy limits of $143,000.
  • Insurance company denied claim for a homeowner in Amarillo whose house was destroyed in a hailstorm. Damages were $55,000. We won a verdict the week after Thanksgiving for the family in the amount of $325K.

    Awaiting verdict v. State Farm in Amarillo. This was the first trial State Farm had lost after 14 consecutive jury wins for them.

And, for TPC, I see no harm in turning in the evacuation expense sheet or even letting them inspect the property – see what they will do.  But, DO NOT SIGN A RELEASE or give a recorded statement.  We will review it for free. I am sorry for your loss.  I am sorry for the stress it is causing you.  But, we are here for you when you need us. We will even review your insurance company’s estimates and correspondence for free. Call us at (409) 832-3737. You can check out some helpful resources on our website that will assist you on all aspects of your property damage claim: http://brasherattorney.com/bad-faith-insurance/

Clint Brasher

Informational only – not intended to be create an attorney-client relationship. 

FEMA: TS Imelda a Major Disaster for 6 Counties

FEMA MAJOR DISASTER DECLARATION OPENS AID FOR SETXans

FEMA Aid Update:  Chambers, Harris, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery, and Orange Counties have been designated as Major Disaster areas are citizens of those communities can apply for assistance from FEMA whether they have flood insurance or not. 

The application window opened October 5, 2019 and will run through February 28, 2021. 

Below is the information and link to apply:

https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4466

 

Brasher Law Firm Helps Local Business Get Paid for Its Harvey Losses

Cocomo Joe’s is a well-known local business that has served Southeast Texas for a number of years. While its building did not flood in Hurricane Harvey, Joe’s did suffer water damage from a roof failure. Joes filed a claim with its insurance company but was met with a denial. That is where we came in.

After an investigation of the property and an examination of the policy, Brasher Law Firm determined that coverage should be given to the local business. Not satisfied with the denial, Brasher Law Firm filed suit and pushed for trial. Before trial, the case was settled for a confidential amount.

Brasher Law Firm is committed to holding insurance companies accountable for the promises they sell to its customers. Too often insurance companies are happy to receive premiums but look for technical gotchas to deny claims. If this has happened to you or your business, call Brasher Law Firm now. We have an entire website devoted to bad faith insurance and denied and underpaid claims.

Brasher Law Firm Gets Local Resident Riding Again

Hurricane Harvey caused mayhem in Southeast Texas.  And, while struggling to repair a flooded home, many Southeast Texans could at least find solace in a prompt adjustment of their flooded vehicle.  That was the case for Mr. Magee – at least for one of the cars in his garage.  Parked next to his flooded Nissan Altima was his Suzuki Bergman motorbike.  His insurance company totaled his Altima. Because the bike was only worth a few thousand dollars, Mr. Magee attempted to repair it himself – using his local mechanic.  And, while water was found in the motorbike, they got it running.  But it kept having problems.

Mr. Magee next to his new motorbike.

So, a few months later, he notified his insurance company of the claim.  He was met with rejection several times, even after Cowboy Powersports took it apart and identified the water in the engine components.  His insurance claim was denied. Not satisfied and not understanding the denial, he came to Brasher Law Firm.

While the matter seemed small, to Brasher Law Firm it wasn’t about the amount of the damaged motorbike. According the Brasher, “if insurance companies treat small claims with clear coverage like this, imagine how they might treat larger claims.”  At Brasher Law Firm, we hold insurance companies accountable for the policies they sale and the promises they make.  After providing notice to the insurance company, Brasher Law Firm filed suit and set the case for trial. 

Before trial, the case settled for a confidential amount.  Brasher Law Firm is proud of the work it did and happy to help Texans get what they are owed from their insurance company.  Trust Brasher Law Firm with your insurance disputes. Our website has multiple pages of content demonstrating the different types of denied or underpaid claims we handle. Mr. Magee can attest – at Brasher Law Firm we treat every claim like it is our only claim.

Brasher Law Firm Hosting Houston Informational Session

Insurance claims can be daunting, especially after a disaster has taken so much from so many.  Brasher Law Firm is committed to providing residents throughout Southeast Texas with the support to get through these trying times.

For the victims of Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area, Brasher Law Firm will host a seminar to provide information and resources to help them through the process of filing an insurance claim.  The informational session will take place Thursday, Sept. 14, from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. at the Hillendahl Neighborhood Library, 2436 Gessner Road, Houston, TX 77080.

Our attorneys, who specialize in insurance litigation, will provide information on how to file flood claims, what to expect, as well as guides/tools that will help walk you through the process. The seminar is open to the public, but RSVPs are welcome. Call (409) 832-3737 or e-mail Jennifer@brasherattorney.com to secure a seat.

 

FEMA Waives and Extends Proof of Loss Requirement for Harvey Victims

This week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a memorandum that waives the requirement that National Flood Insurance Policy policyholders have to submit and sign a proof of loss or sign an adjuster’s report prior to receiving payment on their claim. Now, the insurance company is directed to pay policyholders, as soon as possible and without the need for this extra step in signing and swearing to a proof of loss form or signing and swearing to an adjuster’s report / estimate of damages.

Additionally, if policyholders believe that there are extra or additional damages not covered by the adjuster’s report / estimate, then they are given one year from the date of loss to sign and submit their proof of loss of damages. This is significant as policyholders can now get independent contractors or adjusters to evaluate and assess their damages to see if all damages were covered by the insurance company’s adjuster in his/her estimate.

Moreover, the memorandum makes clear that your insurance carrier is to pay your claim as quickly as possible.

To read the full memorandum, please click here.

The Brasher Law Firm is experienced in handling flood claims and issues surrounding flood insurance disputes. If you believe that your insurance company has handled your claim unfairly, please call us at (409) 832-3737 for a free consultation today.

The Truth about Insurance Law Changes

During the course of Hurricane Harvey ravaging Southeast Texas, Corpus Christi, Dickinson, Rockport, Houston and surrounding counties, like Jefferson, Orange, Hardin, Jasper, Tyler, etc…, speculation from both sides of the aisle spread like wildfire about what the new changes to the Texas Insurance Code would mean for victims of Hurricane Harvey. People barely made it to shelters, and the sponsor of House Bill 1774 (HB 1774), Senator Kelly Hancock, issued a press release claiming the bill would have “no impact on the insurance claims process”. Simultaneously, the group that lobbied for the bill for the past few years, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, tried to justify this bill by saying that “If your insurer does improperly deny or delay paying your claim, Texas has the strongest consumer protections in the nation for you, which will continue to be the case after September 1, 2017.” Yet, despite these statements, the State Bar of Texas president-elect, Joe Longley, strongly encouraged homeowners to file their claims before September 1, 2017 as the changes in the law could adversely affect them.

So where is the disconnect coming from? What Texans for Lawsuit Reform (also known as TLR) failed to mention is that this bill strips the so-called strong consumer protections that Texans used to have if their insurance company fails to timely pay a claim or unreasonably denies a claim. And despite Sen. Hancock’s statements, the bill will have an impact on the insurance claims process. Because quite simply put, the insurance companies will now have less of an incentive to pay you properly and timely.

How did we get here?:

TLR and the group of legislators that supported HB 1774 have been trying for years to get a bill like this passed. In the 2015 legislative session, Senator Larry Taylor, an insurance agent and state senator, tried to pass a similar piece of legislation. This piece of legislation became known as the “hailstorm bill” based on the large number of hailstorm claims that Hidalgo County and other parts of the Valley saw in 2012-2014, which then led to numerous lawsuits because of insurance companies not paying or adjusting these claims properly. Homeowners and business owners from across the state testified against the bill. And the bill eventually failed.

However, before the 2017 legislative session even began, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick made it a top legislative priority to pass the “hailstorm bill”. He even had the Senate Committee on Business & Commerce discuss the issues prior to the start of the legislative session to expedite the process. Thus, it was destined that the “hailstorm bill” would become revived in the 2017 Legislative Session, and with a Republican majority, certainly pass. But they did not simply leave it at only hailstorms – they included every single natural disaster in the new bill.

What does it mean for me?:

So what does the bill mean for you and how will it impact you?

First, if you want to file a claim for damages to your property, as a result of wind or rain damage, there are potential benefits to doing so before Friday, September 1, 2017. Here’s why:

  • The old Texas Insurance Code §542.060 allowed an 18% penalty interest if an insurance company delayed in paying your claim or failed to adhere to certain timelines under the insurance code in handling your claim.
  • The new Texas Insurance Code §542.060 cuts that 18% penalty interest by almost half (a 45% reduction) to only 5% on top of the interest that is already allowed by the Finance Code (about 5%).

So if your claim ends up being improperly denied, improperly handled, or not timely paid, then the insurance company would get away with a slap on the wrist instead of a much larger penalty.

How is the interest calculated or determined? Based on the timing of when you give notice of your claim. So, the advice that the State Bar of Texas president-elect, Joe Longley, is giving regarding filing claims before September 1, 2017 has merit.

Second, the majority of the bill is aimed at cutting protections for Texans once they file a lawsuit. Almost all Texans who suffered due to Hurricane Harvey won’t be filing a lawsuit before September 1, 2017, so the remaining of the bill’s changes and cuts to consumer protections will apply no matter if you file your claim before or after September 1, 2017.

These provisions will cut the amount your attorney can recover for his/her fees (which cannot legally be shared with you anyways, despite statements to the contrary) for working on your case and taking it all the way to trial and, in some cases, through the appellate process. Many of the attorneys working in this area of law have “contingency fee” contracts, which means, even if the claim takes years through the litigation process, they don’t get paid a dime until they recover something for you. Despite the fact that most insurance companies’ lawyers get paid by the hour, they still saw it fit to cut the contingency fee lawyers’ bills. This will discourage many lawyers from taking these types of cases and will leave many homeowners without local lawyers who can help them out.

If an adjuster messes up in handling your case – he / she is no longer liable for their actions. Instead, the insurance company can just take up their defense, and the lawyers are prevented from even telling the jury that the insurance company has taken up the adjuster’s defense.

The provisions will also make it easier for an insurance company to get cases filed against them dismissed. Pre-suit notice was always required even before this new law took effect. So the groups claiming that the point was to give pre-suit notice fail to inform you that this was always required. However, now, the insurance companies and our courts will determine if it is “sufficient” and if they feel as though it is not, the case will be dismissed. If you don’t give the insurance company, who has had multiple opportunities to handle your claim and inspect the damages, another bite at the apple to inspect your damages – then your case is automatically abates (meaning your lawsuit is basically put on hold).

So how can these groups claim that the protections are the same? Well, you’d have to ask them. In the meantime, The Brasher Law Firm is here to help you and we welcome your questions.

Resource Guide for Hurricane Harvey Victims

It can be terrifying to figure out where to start or what to do in the aftermath of a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey. Therefore, we’ve created a free resource guide, that we strongly encourage you to share with your family, friends, neighbors, and loved ones who may have been affected by this horrific disaster and in need of some assistance. We encourage you to call our office with any questions that you may have. We’re here to help, and to listen.

Resource Guide for those affected by Harvey

Nishi Kothari joins Brasher Law Firm

Brasher Law Firm is welcoming a new member to its elite team of attorneys. Nishi Kothari, a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, who previously spent time as a Limited Partner at Arguello, Hope, and Associates, PLLC., is the newest addition to the Texas Law Firm. Ms. Kothari spent her time at Arguello, Hope and Associates, focusing her practice on homeowner’s insurance disputes. 
Her arrival comes on the heels of two successful trials, in which she teamed up with Brasher Law Firm to earn significant judgments for their clients.
While in law school, Ms. Kothari was awarded a public service scholarship, which she used to actively fight for the immigration needs of low-income individuals and families. 
Ms. Kothari is also an active member in the community. She is a member of the Houston Bar Association, Houston Trial Lawyers Association, and former Co-VP of Outreach and CLE for the South Asian Bar Association, Houston chapter.

Insurance companies making record profits

At the same time insurance companies are asking for changes to the law protecting their customers, they are making record profits.  While neglecting to pay out to their policyholders, insurance companies have been fortunate enough to take in at least double the 10-year average percent of underwriting profit of direct premiums earned since 2012. According […]