Florida Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Homeowners in Water Damage Case
On September 20, 2017, in the case of the Milhomme v. Tower Hill Signature Insurance Company, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal reversed a lower court decision in a property damage insurance dispute. Originally, the lower court ruled in favor of the insurance company. This case centered around a dispute over water damage sustained by homeowners in North Miami Beach, Florida. Here, our top-rated Fort Lauderdale property insurance dispute attorneys discuss this decision.
After their home sustained substantial water damage, Mr. and Mrs. Milhomme filed a property damage claim with their homeowners’ insurance company, Tower Hill. Following an investigation by its representative, Tower Hill accepted the water damage claim, and sent a check to the homeowners. However, this check was nearly $20,000 less than the estimate for repairs presented by Mr. and Mrs. Milhomme.
The Initial Decision
The homeowners quickly filed a lawsuit against Tower Hill, seeking compensation for the gap between the payment they actually received from the insurance company and the independent adjuster’s estimate for the repair and restoration costs. Tower Hill countered that the lawsuit must be dismissed on the grounds that the company never breached the insurance policy. Specifically, the insurance company pointed to the fact that they sent a note along with their check indicating that the homeowners still had the ability to file a “supplemental claim” if initial payment was determined to be insufficient during the actual course of repairs. The trial court agreed and dismissed the lawsuit.
The Appeal and Reversal
Upon appeal, Florida’s Third District Court reversed the ruling and remanded the case back to the trial court for reconsideration. The appeals court noted an error in the reasoning. The independent adjuster adjusted loss as part of the initial claim. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to compel the homeowners to file a supplemental claim for the same damage that was originally presented. The claim that had been filed initially was valid, and as such, the insurance company had a legal duty to pay the full amount that would be required to repair and restore the damage to the property that was caused by the water. Should additional damage be discovered, beyond what the independent adjuster had assessed, then the homeowners would still have the right to file a supplemental claim for that loss as well.
Was Your Property Insurance Claim Denied in Broward County?
At Geyer Fuxa Tyler, we have extensive experience handling a wide array of property damage cases, including complex water damage claims. If your home or business sustains serious water damage, but your property insurance company refuses to pay you full compensation, we can help. To schedule your risk free case evaluation, please call us at (954) 990-5251 or fill out our short online contact form.