Frequently Asked Questions
Will I have to go to court?
The statistics reflect that vast majority of cases settle out of court and before a trial begins. Some cases are settled during trial and some are settled after trial. If we feel that the settlement offered is unfair to you, we will try your case. Don't worry- we will be with you every step of the way. We will fight hard to get you results, whether the case is resolved before, during or after trial.
Why do you so frequently win favorable settlements?
Preparation. We deal from a position of strength, never weakness. We start with researching the law applicable to a case, develop a discovery plan to satisfy all legal elements and present our findings in settlement discussions. Sooner or later the defendant recognizes how prepared we are and decides to settle the case. There is no guarantee, of course, but with preparation - at the right point - a favorable settlement becomes more likely.
Why can't other lawyers handle my case?
No doubt other lawyers are available that could handle your case. This firm concentrates its practice in a few areas of law. Our experience and expertise in these areas is comparable to the finest anywhere. Use our firm for these legal needs and other law firms for other areas of law.
Can I afford your services?
Hopefully, yes. We offer representation in a variety of ways. We offer legal representation on an hourly basis, a contingency basis and a flat fee basis. In our first meeting, we will discuss your case and determine the best way to represent you.
I have a replacement cost policy, but my insurance carrier only paid me the actual cash value of my loss. Do I have to actually make the repairs before I can receive the full replacement cost?
Yes. Most homeowners wisely purchase replacement cost insurance. This type of coverage protects you by providing coverage for the full cost to repair or replace damaged property following a loss. But unfortunately, for a variety of historical reasons, most modern replacement cost policies require the insured to repair or replace the damaged property prior to recovering its full replacement cost. However, as strange as it may seem, most insurance policies do not define the term "actual cash value". Thus, what constitutes actual cash value has traditionally been left to state regulatory authorities and caselaw. As recently as September 28, 2008, the Texas Commissioner of Insurance issued Bulletin No. #B-0068-08 that defined the standard method for determining the actual cash value of a structure under a replacement cost policy to be the reasonable and necessary expenses to repair or replace the damaged property, less proper deduction for depreciation. These expenses include the services of a prospective contractor without deduction for overhead, profit and taxes.
I suffered a loss to my home. My insurance carrier issued a check jointly payable to me and my mortgage company. I gave the check to the mortgage company. I completed the repairs, but the mortgage company has not released the insurance company's payment. How do I force the mortgage company to pay?
With regard to residential real property, Texas law requires the mortgage company to provide you with notice of each requirement that you must comply with in order to obtain the proceeds of the check within 10 days of receiving payment. §557.002(a) TEX. INS. CODE. After you have completed the required repairs, you need to send the mortgage company notice of the completion of the repairs and a request for payment. Within 10 days of receiving notice and a request for payment, the mortgage company must release the proceeds to you or provide notice to you that specifically explains the reason for its refusal to release the proceeds to you and each requirement with which you need to comply in order for the mortgage company to release the proceeds to you. §557.003 TEX. INS. CODE. If the mortgage company fails to comply with either of these statutes, it must pay you 10 percent interest on the proceeds for the period of noncompliance until paid.
If my property has been only partially damaged, does my insurance company owe additional money so that my siding, paint, carpet, shingles and bricks match?
Yes. Your carrier owes up to the insurance policy limits to repair your property with like kind and quality materials to its pre-loss condition. The appearance of your home after repairs is supposed to be "uniform and consistent." Accordingly, the carrier is required to pay to match your siding, paint, carpet, shingles, and bricks.
What are the most common problems insureds have after a loss with their insurance companies?
Frustrating delays, numerous adjusters, incorrect information about coverage, and grossly inadequate repair estimates are most common. If your claim is not paid within 60-90 days from reporting of the loss, it's time to consider hiring an attorney.
What remedies are available under Texas law for an insurance case?
The answer to this question varies with the facts of each case. Texas remedies may include: the value of withheld policy benefits; penalty interest (18% per annum); reasonable attorney's fees and costs; mental anguish damages; and punitive or exemplary damages.
How long do I have to file my insurance case?
Limitations in insurance cases generally run within 2 years from the date your claim was denied or you reasonably should have known your case was denied.
How long will my insurance case take to be resolved?
This question varies with the facts and the carrier, but generally most insurance cases are resolved within 18-24 months from the date of filing.
On what basis do you accept insurance cases?
Our firm accepts cases on one of three basis: hourly, contingent and flat fee.
I am having problems getting a fair settlement on my insurance claim, what are my options?
If you are having problems with your adjuster, you basically have four options in seeking resolution. First, you can try to get another adjuster assigned to your claim. Often insurance carriers will assign another adjuster to a file upon a request. Second, you can hire a public insurance adjuster. A public insurance adjuster can measure and document your loss in a professional manner that exceeds most homeowner's abilities. However, it is important to pick an established public insurance adjuster with full time office in this area. There are many stories of incompetent public insurance adjusters that actually harm, rather than help an insured. Contact me for a referral to some reputable public insurance adjusters. Third, if your dispute is determined by the insurance carrier to be a covered claim, you can consider appraisal. I usually recommend against the appraisal process because it is fraught with traps that can take advantage of unwary policyholders and can actually cause you to lose valuable rights. Finally, you have the option to hire an attorney. Attorneys skilled in insurance matters are a comprehensive solution. They can handle all aspects of your claim and enforce your rights under the law in ways that public insurance adjusters and appraisal can not.