Hurricane-Related Personal Injury Claims
Most of the time, Floridians handle hurricane-related issues with their insurance companies. However, depending on the situation, some claims stemming from hurricane aftermath can fall under the aegis of personal injury law. It can be difficult to know which is which, and if you have been injured, it can be a good idea to contact a Tampa personal injury attorney regardless, just to ensure your questions are answered.
2018: Light So Far
As of this writing, hurricane season is more than half over, and its effects have been light in Tampa and in Florida generally. However, the potential for a storm to hit is higher than many areas in Florida, with Accuweather listing an 11 percent likelihood of Tampa and its environs being hit. (For comparison’s sake, Miami has the highest likelihood of being struck by a hurricane in any given year, at 16 percent). Tampa is much more likely to be affected by hurricanes forming and entering along the Gulf of Mexico than by Atlantic hurricanes, but the possibility remains.
The most recent major storm to affect Tampa was Hurricane Charley in 2004, which caused billions in damages when it touched down to the south, near Punta Gorda. While only 10 deaths were reported, countless homes were damaged and injuries and emergency room visits soared during the weeks immediately following the storm. This was exacerbated by the storm’s abrupt change of course at a relatively late point – originally the storm had been predicted to hit land near Tampa itself, and ultimately wound up shifting south. Tampa residents might have been spared, but thousands in Port Charlotte and its surrounding areas were caught unprepared. If this happens to you, all you can do is attempt to be as prepared as possible for the injuries and property damage that may result.
Debris Is An Issue
While many claims are handled via homeowners’ insurance claims, claims which can be labeled indirect are more tricky to manage. Debris-related claims are perhaps chief among these – while a person in that kind of situation cannot say that the hurricane directly caused their injury or property damage, debris related to that hurricane did. These claims are those most often brought against the state or against a private business owner, because it can be argued that a duty of care exists in that situation, especially for private landowners.
Private property owners are responsible for clearing up any potentially hazardous condition on their land or in their business, and this holds true for hurricane debris as it does for any other potential issue. This type of issue occurs under a legal theory known as premises liability, and if you or a loved one are injured due to hurricane debris that has not been cleared away, you may have a cause of action for your injuries. The crux of the matter is what status you occupied on the land at the time of your injury – for example, if you were trespassing, you are owed no duty of care other than for the landowner to refrain from wantonly injuring you, whereas if you were a business invitee, the landowner has to either make conditions safe or provide appropriate warnings about anything potentially dangerous that they are aware of.
Seek An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Hurricanes can strike out of the blue, but even lesser storms like tropical depressions can cause significant injury and damage. If you believe you have experienced harm due to a natural disaster, you may have a cause of action in premises liability. The Tampa personal injury attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group can sit down with you and try to help answer your questions about how best to seek compensation. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.