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Correa & Martinez Trial Lawyers: Expert Legal Assistance for Property Owners

When dealing with sinkhole damage, it's crucial to have legal experts on your side who are familiar with the local geological conditions and relevant Florida statutes. This ensures that your case is built on a strong foundation and handled with the utmost care and precision. Correa & Martinez Trial Lawyers are ready to evaluate your situation and advise you on the best course of action. With a confident and knowledgeable team, we pursue claims with the intent of achieving a fair resolution for those impacted by sinkhole-related destruction.

A sinkhole in the ground

What Causes Sinkhole Damage?

Sinkholes are geological occurrences resulting from the erosion of soluble rocks like limestone, gypsum, or dolomite. Rainwater naturally turns acidic as it absorbs carbon dioxide and reacts with plant debris. As this acidic water percolates through the soil, it can dissolve these soluble rocks, creating underground voids.

When the support for the land above these voids becomes too weak, a sudden collapse may occur, forming what is known as a sinkhole. Common triggers include:

  • Heavy Rainfall: Sudden heavy rains can lead to the swift collapse of an already weakened soil layer.
  • Drought: Extended periods without rain can dry out surface material, giving way under weight.
  • Water Level Fluctuations: Sudden increases or decreases in groundwater caused by drilling, mining, or heavy water withdrawal can provoke sinkhole formation.
  • Human Activity: Construction and development can alter water drainage patterns, leading to erosion that can initiate or exacerbate sinkhole formation.

Understanding these causes can help you identify potential risks around your property in Miami and take steps to mitigate sinkhole damage. If such an event affects your property despite precautions, a specialized sinkhole damage lawyer can assist in navigating the legal aspects of property recovery.

What Laws Cover Sinkhole Damage in Miami?

In Miami, sinkhole damage is primarily covered under Florida Statute 627.706. This law mandates that all insurers providing property insurance must also offer coverage for catastrophic ground cover collapse, which typically includes sinkholes.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Insurers must provide this as an optional coverage, and you, as a policyholder, have the right to decide whether to purchase it
  • If you suspect sinkhole activity, it’s essential to notify your insurer immediately since there are specific protocols in place
  • The law also governs how insurers assess sinkhole claims:
    • Insurers must perform an investigation when a claim is filed.
    • A professional geologist or engineer must conduct testing if sinkhole activity is suspected.

Florida Statute 627.7073 outlines the standards for structural examinations and evaluations in cases of sinkhole claims.

Be aware of the following as well:

  • Sinkhole Database: The Florida Geological Survey maintains a database of confirmed sinkholes, offering a source for identifying past activity in your area.
  • Public Adjuster Regulations: Under Florida Statute 626.854, you have the right to hire a public adjuster to represent you in a sinkhole claim. However, these adjusters must meet certain restrictions and qualifications.
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Who Can I Sue for Sinkhole Damage in Miami?

Property Insurers

Check your insurance policy for sinkhole coverage. Some may cover sinkhole damage, while others might not.

Homebuilders or Contractors

Builders or contractors may be liable if the sinkhole damage results from poor construction or negligence.

Previous Property Owners

If you recently purchased your property and the previous owners did not disclose known sinkhole activity or repairs, they could be responsible.

Local Government

In certain circumstances, municipal entities may be liable if the sinkhole is due to mishandled or neglected infrastructure such as water lines.

Neighboring Property Owners

Sometimes, activity on an adjacent property can lead to sinkhole formation on yours. The neighboring property owner may be at fault if this is due to negligence.

Will My Insurance Cover Sinkhole Damage in Miami?

In Florida, insurers are legally required to cover "catastrophic ground cover collapse." However, this differs from sinkhole coverage, which is optional and often requires an additional premium.

Catastrophic ground cover collapse typically covers situations where:

  • The abrupt collapse of ground cover is apparent
  • A depression in the ground cover is clearly visible
  • Structural damage to the building, including the foundation
  • The insured structure is condemned and ordered to be vacated by the governmental agency authorized to issue such an order for that structure

Here’s what you need to know about optional sinkhole coverage:

  • Better suited for damage not fitting the above criteria
  • Often requires a separate assessment of sinkhole risk
  • Inspection might be necessary before approval
  • May carry a higher deductible
Large sinkhole in the road

Florida Statutes on Sinkhole Insurance Claims

Florida law requires insurers to provide coverage for sinkhole damage as an optional coverage:

  • According to Florida Statutes 627.706, you must notify your insurer if you believe sinkhole activity has damaged your property
  • On receipt of your claim, the insurer must engage a professional geologist or other qualified individuals to inspect and test the site using standardized methods
  • Immediate notification to your insurer is recommended
  • The insurer must send a professional for structural damage assessment
  • If your claim is denied, you have a right to demand a neutral evaluation as per Florida Statutes 627.7074

Assessment of Sinkhole Damages and Legal Grounds

The law specifies that a damage evaluation must be conducted by experts, such as a geotechnical engineer, who use scientific methods to determine the presence of sinkhole activity beneath your property. For a valid claim, their findings must indicate structural damage directly attributable to sinkhole activity. By adhering to the guidelines set forth by Florida statutes, you can strengthen your legal position in sinkhole damage claims.

What Compensation Can I Get for Sinkhole Damage in Miami?

If you have experienced sinkhole damage to your property in Miami, you may be entitled to various forms of compensation:

Table showing type of compensation

Do I Need a Lawyer for Sinkhole Damage in Miami?

If you own property in Miami and have experienced sinkhole damage, hiring a lawyer may be beneficial for several reasons:

Understanding Insurance Policies

Your lawyer can interpret the complex language of insurance policies to determine whether sinkhole damage is covered under your current plan.

Claim Filing Assistance

They can assist with the precise filing of claims to ensure all procedures are correctly followed to avoid unnecessary claim denials.

Expert Negotiations

Lawyers can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to seek fair compensation.

Legal Representation

If disputes arise, your lawyer can represent you in court, providing a strong legal defense and working to protect your interests.

Damage Assessment

A lawyer can arrange for a professional evaluation of the property to establish the extent of the damage, which is critical for your claim.

It's a good idea to hire a lawyer when dealing with sinkhole claims early on. This can help you avoid common problems affecting your right to compensation. It's also important to act quickly after finding sinkhole damage, as there may be deadlines for filing a claim with your insurance. A lawyer specializing in sinkhole damage can provide the legal help you need and improve your chances of getting a positive result.

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Why Choose Correa & Martinez Trial Lawyers for Sinkhole Damage Cases in Miami?

When dealing with sinkhole damage to your property, choosing Correa & Martinez Trial Lawyers means having an experienced legal team on your side. We are skilled at negotiating with insurance companies and take a strong approach to counter tactics insurance adjusters use to minimize your claim.

Furthermore, our willingness to go to trial if necessary supports our confidence in negotiations. Our lawyers diligently investigate your claim, working with experts such as geologists to support your case. This attention to detail is combined with clear communication to keep you informed every step of the way.

Pursuing a fair resolution is our top priority. Schedule a consultation with Correa & Martinez Trial Lawyers today to protect your property and rights.

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