Sink Hole Claims
Tampa First Party Insurance Dispute Attorney
Sinkholes are holes in the land's surface that occur throughout certain counties in Florida. They can be small or large, shallow or deep; however, they are all caused by the dissolving of limestone beneath the ground's surface. Sink holes are directly correlated with hydrologic conditions such as excessive rainfall in a short period of time, or in contrast, lack of rainfall, or even lowered water levels; all of these can play a role in the development of a sinkhole. It is believed that a number of Florida's ponds and lakes are the product of sinkhole formation that occurred in the past.
Since Florida is home to more than 19,000,000 people, sinkholes are classified as geologic hazards that have the propensity to cause extensive structural and road damage, resulting in costly repairs. Sinkholes can also threaten some of Florida's water supplies by draining unfiltered water from wetlands, lakes and streams into the underground water supply.
Although sinkholes can be massive, gaping holes greater than 50 feet in width, it's a common misconception that the only sinkholes that cause damage are large holes that open up and swallow a home. There are many cases where a small sinkhole below the home can destabilize the home's foundation, thus resulting in structural damage.
Florida's Sinkhole Laws
Sinkholes can be a major problem for Florida's residential and commercial property owners. They can cause cracks in the foundation, sloping floors, cracks around doors and all throughout different parts of your home or business, all of which are indicators that your property may be affected by a sinkhole below the surface. Even smaller, less visible sink holes can lead to extensive and costly repairs for the property owner.
Sinkholes are a particular cause for concern in west-central Florida, so much that the state of Florida enacted 2011 Florida Statute 627.706 where it addresses sinkhole insurance. Under §627.706, every insurer authorized to sell property insurance in the state of Florida is required to provide coverage for a catastrophic ground collapse. The insurer must also make available, for an additional premium, coverage for sinkhole losses on any structure, including the contents of personal property.
The insurer may require that they inspect the property before they provide coverage for sinkhole loss coverage and a residential policy may require a deductible for a sinkhole loss equal to 1%, 2%, 5% or 10% of the policy's dwelling limits. The insurer may also restrict catastrophic ground cover collapse and sinkhole loss coverage to the principle building as defined in the policy.
Sinkhole Loss Coverage v. Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse
Sinkhole loss coverage and catastrophic ground cover collapse are two different things. Catastrophic ground cover collapse refers to when geological activity results in a sinkhole that's clearly visible to the naked eye, and that causes structural damage to the building including the foundation. The insured structure must be condemned and ordered vacated by a governmental agency.
As a homeowner, it's important to note that catastrophic ground cover collapse refers to the worst case scenario, where your home is condemned and you are ordered to vacate the premises. In some cases the insurer may offer you a policy that excludes coverage for sinkhole losses, in which case they are required to inform policyholders in bold type stating: "YOUR POLICY PROVIDES COVERAGE FOR A CATASTROPHIC GROUND COVER COLLAPSE THAT RESULTS IN THE PROPERTY BEING CONDEMNED AND UNINHABITABLE. OTHERWISE, YOUR POLICY DOES NOT PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR SINKHOLE LOSSES. YOU MAY PURCHASE ADDITIONAL COVERAGE FOR SINKHOLE LOOSES FOR AN ADDITIONAL PREMIUM." (Florida Statute §627.706) This means that some homeowners may opt out of this additional coverage for sinkhole losses, unless of course they elect to purchase additional coverage.
Tampa Sinkhole Claims Attorneys
If you believe that sinkhole activity may be affecting your home, you may feel uneasy about handling the insurance company on your own. Our attorneys Ernie E. Trichler and Jennifer M. Mandelbaum have an extensive background working in insurance defense and also acting as in-house counsel. Our insider perspective on the insurance industry allows us to quickly interpret your insurance policy and your coverage limits. We are more than willing to closely review your insurance policy and have your property examined by experts if we believe you have a strong case, and from that point forward we can provide a strong and compelling argument on your behalf.
When your home is perhaps the largest investment of your life, you deserve to have an ally with knowledge and experience of the insurance industry fighting for the future of your home and your wallet.
Contact a Tampa sinkhole claim lawyer from our firm to discuss your sinkhole claim at (813) 862-1029.
If I could give Ernie Trichler 10 stars, I definitely would - 5 stars is not enough. Ernie aided myself & family with my mother’s wrongful death case. He didn’t care that she was 100 years old. Ernie is professional, trustworthy, and most importantly, he knows the law. He answered his phone every time I called with questions and he always had the answers. I interviewed at least 4 different attorneys and there was no doubt that Ernie is above and beyond them all. If you are in need of an attorney within the realm of his expertise, I highly recommend Ernie Trichler.- Sandy L
Jennifer Mandelbaum did an amazing job handling my personal injury case. She and her team were completely professional and made the process very easy. The communication was clear and I felt informed the whole time. I highly recommend her and her law firm should you get into an accident. She will absolutely fight for your rights!- Christopher Lai - Tampa Bay Realtor
I went through a very traumatic accident that left me hospitalized for a month and in recovery for much longer. It was such a difficult and expensive process that I never thought I'd ever recover from. Jennifer Mandelbaum took care of me from day 1 making sure I never had to stress which was so amazing for me as to this day suffer from terrible PTSD. She not only made sure that I was taken care of but also that I was treated like family and she walked me through every step, ensuring that I was properly represented and didn't have to struggle with my bills for all my specialized doctors and care. I couldn't recommend a better firm to take care of you in your moment of need!- Nicole Clark
It's a sad day when you find yourself needing a lawyer. So happy to have found Atty. Jennifer Mandelbaum, as she was so very helpful in all aspects. I never needed a lawyer before and did not understand the processes. Jennifer was always so pleasant and stayed in communication with me via text, calls and e-mails. Any time that I had a question or concern she was on it. I appreciate her business and I highly recommend her for your accident lawyer needs.- Paula Nipper
Definitely a touch of class. Always available whenever you need questions answered and straight forward. You’ll always get an honest answer. I’ve dealt with Jennifer in the past and and she cares about what’s best for her clients and will fight until the end. Definitely someone you can trust!- Jequiel York
I would have been lost without Jennifer's guidance and expertise dealing with auto insurance companies. She made the entire process manageable so I could focus on my injuries. From beginning to end she was always available to addres all my questions and concerns. She kept me informed at all times and settled my case for more than I had expected. I highly recommend Jennifer Mandelbaum. Hopefully I will not need her in the future but if I do I she's the attorney I'll call. Thank you so much for such outstanding job Jennifer!- Sandy Shores
Ernie was the epitome of a silver lining in an unfortunate situation. Having never dealt with an attorney in any sort of professional capacity, I was quite intimidated by the prospect. However, Ernie quickly put my mind at ease. Throughout the entirety of my case, he kept in constant contact with me. He updated me on new developments every step of the way and was more than willing to decipher all legal jargon that came my way. He worked tirelessly to yield the best possible results from my case. From the day of our first interaction, I knew the case was in capable hands.- Cullen Murphy
I have to say that I am very pleased with the Trichler Law Center. Ernie handled my case in a very timely and professional manner. He kept me informed every step of way, I was very IMPRESSED in the way he worked with the defense attorneys to get me a very satisfactory settlement. I would highly recommend him to anyone in need of legal assistance. Thank you for a job well done!!- Donnie