Millions of customers lost power with little or no warning due to weather-related conditions. Frequently, the power remained off for more than twenty-four hours. Many individuals were unable to operate necessary home medical devices, such as breathing equipment and dialysis machines. Many companies, such as farmers unable to keep newborn chicks warm, suffered similar losses.
The collateral consequences were just as bad. In many areas, the temperature was well below freezing for several days. Pipes froze, causing massive flooding. Legally, insurance companies are financially responsible for these losses. But many companies deny coverage whenever possible, often by exploiting obscure policy loopholes. Even if they cover the loss, they usually authorize only bare minimum repairs.
All these victims need dedicated attorneys who have substantial resources. Large personal injury cases like this one are quite complex, so your attorney must be able to see things through until the end. Furthermore, insurance companies have armies of legal professionals which are only concerned about the company’s bottom line. Fortunately, victims can find all these things under one roof, at Napoli Shkolnik.
Bad Faith Insurance Claims
Regardless of the circumstances, insurance companies have a legal duty to promptly acknowledge your claim, efficiently investigate it, and quickly pay it. A failure in any area could constitute bad faith.
Typically, insurance companies must acknowledge claims within fourteen days. Generally, this deadline cannot be extended. Insurance companies often try to use circumstances, like the number of claims or power infrastructure issues, to justify a delay.
A few days could make a significant difference. Floods cause many businesses to lose thousands of dollars a day. As for residential customers, the longer water remains, the unhealthier their homes become.
Immediately after insurance companies acknowledge claims, the investigation process usually begins. Typically, adjusters must personally inspect the damage. These adjusters cannot instantly rubber-stamp claims as “approved” or “denied.” They must thoroughly examine all the facts. However, they cannot take too long.
These investigations must also be as swift as possible. Finally, investigations must be transparent. At a minimum, this transparency usually includes a written report and supporting material.
As for payment, the insurance company is financially responsible for the full insured value. A company cannot use depreciation as an excuse to reduce payment. Additionally, if additional work is required, the company must do it. For example, if a flood ruins part of the carpet in a basement, the insurance company must usually replace all the carpet.
Typically, insurance companies are large, faceless corporations. Frequently, they are headquartered overseas. Attorneys must expend so much effort just to get a bad faith claim off the ground that they sometimes take the first settlement offer. That doesn’t happen when you partner with Napoli Shkolnik. Our professional team does not give up that easily.
Personal Injury Claims
Generally, local power companies are responsible for the aforementioned personal injury losses. Some of these companies might try to shift the blame to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas or another state agency. But victim/plaintiffs normally do not need to worry about this issue. Defendants can bicker amongst themselves as much as they want.
Local companies are contractually obligated to provide electrical service to paying customers. The impossibility defense sometimes comes into play in these situations. In Texas, this defense applies if an item necessary for performance substantially deteriorates. Some factors to consider on this point include:
- Timing of the contract,
- When the disruptive event occurred,
- Was performance actually objectively impossible (physically impossible) or just subjectively impossible (very difficult), and
- Whether a party made a reasonable effort to perform.
Most of these factors favor victim/plaintiffs.
Damages in these claims usually include compensation for economic losses, such as property damage, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Especially in bad faith insurance claims, additional punitive damages are often available as well.
Negligence, and not the weather itself, caused Texas’ winter storm damage. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact our local Texas Napoli Shkolnik PLLC office. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters and only recover a fee when we win your case.