How to Handle a Sinkhole Accident 

 November 15, 2013

By  LMW Attorneys

You may have noticed cracks in your home’s walls or some soil heaving in the backyard, but until a sinkhole accident happens, it is difficult to predict the amount of possible damage. Aside from property damage, you may have loved ones that were hurt during the event. Hiring a lawyer is one of the many steps to handle a sinkhole accident properly.

Initial Sinkhole Occurrence

Immediately leave your property and congregate at a neighbor’s house down the street. Call emergency responders if the sinkhole is large enough to harm other people, including cars driving on an adjacent street or your neighbors’ homes. Once emergency responders arrive and evaluate your property, ask for a written report. You want as much documentation as possible for your legal rights.

Calling the Insurance Company

Regardless of the severity of the sinkhole, call your insurance company. They typically send an environmental engineer to survey the property. Confirm the appointment and be there as they perform their procedure. Ask for all information in written-form. They usually take soil samples for further testing so the results will not be completed immediately. Do not sign any liability documents after the first insurance evaluation to preserve your rights.

A Lawyer Protects Your Rights

Contact a lawyer that is familiar with environmental law, particularly sinkholes. Certain areas, like northern-central Florida, are prone to sinkholes because of natural geological processes. The lawyer typically visits the home and questions you about history and use. Most lawyers do not require an upfront fee for sinkhole cases. They take a portion of the proceeds if you win a lawsuit against the city or real estate agency previously involved.

Liability Issues

Allow your lawyer to correspond with the insurance company to ensure that you receive all the funds you rightly deserve. There may be a delay in funding the repairs, however, so be patient as the legal proceedings persist. Depending on the case, the insurance may not pay for repairs until several weeks or months pass.

Sinkholes are frightening experiences, especially if they are large enough to significantly damage your home. Keep calm and work with a qualified lawyer to protect your rights. Repairing sinkhole damage on your own can cripple you financially.