The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. helps insurance policyholders recover what they are due on their insurance claims, zealously advocates on behalf of victims of catastrophic personal injuries or wrongful death and fights for the rights of consumers and small businesses in Miami and throughout Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Below are some initial questions many clients have when they first contact J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A.. The questions below may address many initial concerns you may have. If you don't find the answers here, you should contact us for answers to questions specific to your case. The consultation is free.
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What is a sinkhole?
Florida leads the nation in sinkhole activity. Florida law defines a sinkhole as "land form created by subsidence of soil, sediment, or rock as underlying strata are dissolved by groundwater. A sinkhole may form by collapse into subterranean voids created by dissolution (the dissolving) of limestone or dolostone or by the subsidence as these strata are dissolved."
Is sinkhole damage covered by my insurance policy?
Only by reading your insurance policy can we determine whether sinkhole damage is covered by your policy, but a recent change in Florida law requires all authorized insurance companies doing business in Florida to cover for "catastrophic ground cover collapse," but damage caused by a sinkhole may not be covered by your policy. Florida law defines catastrophic ground cover collapse differently from sinkholes.
Under Florida law "catastrophic ground cover collapse" is defined as geological activity that results in all of the following:
1) The abrupt collapse of the ground cover
2) A depression in the ground cover clearly visible to the naked eye
3) Structural damage to the building including the foundation; and
4) The insured structure being condemned and ordered to be vacated by the government agency authorized by law to issue such an order for that structure.
This means that if your home is damaged by sinkhole activity, but does not meet all four criteria for catastrophic ground cover collapse, for instance, you may have foundation cracks, but the home is still livable, your insurance company may not pay for the damages sustained if you do not have sinkhole coverage.
All insurance companies licensed to do business in Florida must offer sinkhole coverage, usually as an addendum or rider to an existing policy, and for an additional premium charge.
If you feel you have sustained sinkhole damage, contact our office for a free consultation with insurance claims attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo.
What are some sinkhole activity signs I should look for?
Below are just a few tell-tale sinkhole activity signs you should be on the look out for:
Foundation cracks that are forming in a zig-zag fashion
Separation of walls from foundation or ceiling
Separation of house structure from foundation
Sudden or slow creation of uneven floors and cracks
Sinking or shifting of a portion of your home
Doors and windows that all of a sudden do not close appropriately
Crack on the walls and ceiling
Fence or mailbox posts that are sinking
Shifting of your entire property
Outdoor pavements that are starting to crack
Observation of holes in your yard that did not exist before
Bursting of pipes and swimming pool leaks
What are my rights as a homeowner when sustaining sinkhole damage?
All insurance companies licensed to do business in Florida must offer sinkhole coverage, usually as an addendum or rider to an existing policy, and for an additional premium charge. Furthermore, Florida law requires that once a sinkhole insurance claim is filed, the insurance company must send (at no cost to you) a geotechnical engineering firm to perform tests to eliminate sinkhole activity within a certain level of confidence. Therefore, the burden of proving that sinkhole activity is not present is shifted to the insurance company. Since the insurance company selects the testing firm, this may lead to a denial of your sinkhole claim.
If you feel your sinkhole claim has been wrongfully denied, please contact the insurance claims lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo for a free consultation.
My sinkhole damage claim was approved, but I disagree with the manner the insurance company wants to make repairs to the sinkhole, what can I do?
Your insurance company may attempt short cuts in repairing your sinkhole damages. One common method some insurance companies attempt is to pour concrete directly into the sinkhole. The problem with this method is that valid questions exist as to whether this is a temporary (patch work) or permanent repair to the sinkhole.
Please contact the Law Office of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation.
How much will it cost me to hire the Law Offices of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. for my sinkhole damages case?
We understand that many of our clients do not have the resources or means to pay lawyer fees out of pocket. This is why we offer a free consultation. In the great majority of cases, if we decide to go forward with your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis. This means that if there is no recovery on your claim, you do not pay fees for our services or costs advanced by our office. Furthermore, under certain circumstances your insurance company will become responsible for paying your attorney's fees and costs. Since not all insurance claim cases are alike, please contact our office to discuss your case in more detail.