Intense summer storms have plagued the DC area over recent weeks. High winds, saturating rain, and lightning all represent unique threats to the well-being of people and their communities. The damage wrought by these storms is plainly visible after they’ve passed. In a recent blog post we discussed the threats posed by driving in heavy rain, but today we’ll explore the legal avenues available for those seeking compensation after a damaging storm. Can you sue for storm damage? The answer may be more complicated than you’d think.
Allow us to be explicit, so as not to give you the wrong idea: you cannot sue a storm for injuring you or damaging your property. That much should go without saying. But those affected by storms still have a variety of potential paths to recover damages for injury and loss of property. If you own your home and it sustains damage during a storm, you should absolutely file a homeowner’s insurance claim to seek aid with any necessary repairs.
Of course, the insurance claims process can be confusing and acrimonious. Your insurance provider may offer a payout far lower than the value of your damages, or deny it entirely. Though the homeowner may still have recourse if they cannot come to an agreement with their insurance provider. It’s possible that the homeowner’s policy may allow you to hire your own appraiser. They can evaluate the damages at a different rate than the company. Think of it like getting a second opinion from a doctor. You may also be able to renegotiate the proposed insurance settlement through mediation, wherein a neutral mediator is paid by the insurance company to settle the dispute.
If mediation and a second appraisal do not lead to an agreement, you may be able to directly file suit against your insurance company.
As a personal injury law firm, property damage lawsuits are outside of Malloy Law’s practice area. However, there are still storm-related personal injury cases. Negligence is still possible under extreme weather conditions. Indeed, these conditions may highlight existing negligent behavior, with injurious or even deadly consequences.
Let’s explore a common example of negligence that may be exacerbated in a storm. Driving around in the wake of a severe thunderstorm, DC residents often make note of the effects these storms have on trees, snapping off branches or even toppling trees entirely. While large adult trees may appear sturdy and immovable, it’s important to remember that these are living things. A dead tree can stay standing for years after its passing. Oftentimes it takes severe stressors like gale force winds to expose how fragile these trees really are. The results can be devastating. These long-dead trees can snap off near their base and topple over, leading to a whole world of possible damages. These include:
If you or a loved one were injured by a dead falling tree during a storm, you may have a personal injury case. While the storm, obviously cannot be held liable, the owner of the property where the tree was planted can. There is a strong argument that their failure to have the dead tree removed constitutes negligence that led directly to an injury.
You may also have a case if you rent your home. Landlords have an obligation to ensure that their rented property is compliant with minimum safety standards as it pertains to state laws. If landlords choose to ignore these regulations, leading to the injury of a tenant, this is undoubtedly negligent behavior. Tenants may be able to recoup damages in a personal injury lawsuit. If your landlord is refusing to address dangerous conditions in your rental, it’s usually a good idea to keep a record of your communications. This record may be vital to proving negligence down the line.
Extreme weather conditions present serious challenges to individuals, communities, and the infrastructure that links them together. In this era of climate change, weather is becoming more unpredictable than in years past. It’s the sincere recommendation of Malloy Law Offices that all persons obtain a robust insurance policy to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their property from financial hardship in the wake of unforeseen weather events. If those events lead to the injury of yourself or your loved ones, we encourage you to contact Malloy Law for a free consultation. Our experienced and diverse team is standing by to advise and assist you.