While sunny days continue to reign over Houston entering the month of June, the city experienced serious flooding in May – a watery catastrophe that has enticed some area attorneys to start fishing for clients.
Many Houston trial lawyers, such as Steve Mostyn for example, have already baited their firm websites with lures to reel in flood victims.
One H-Town attorney, Donald Worley of McDonald Worley, even sent out a press release on Wednesday, June 3, announcing “his intent that no valid damage claimants looking for just compensation from their flood insurance company shall be ignored.”
“The firm has announced they are making themselves available for members of the community who feel their insurers aren't living up to their obligations, or are taking too long to compensate them fairly for their losses,” the press release states.
"The people impacted by the widespread flooding in Texas are our friends and neighbors, businesses our office frequents, members of our community and state, and I (Worley) won't stand for their being treated unfairly by giant insurance companies looking after their bottom line.”
The Record asked Worley if his press release could be construed as an attempt to fish for clients in the wake of a disaster, to which he replied: “Always interested in clients, as this is how I make my living.”
“But very few flood victims will become clients,” Worley said. “Because there are caps and because the damage will probably exceed the policy limits, most flood insurance companies will tender the policy limits.”
Storm cleanup is now underway in the city, with the full extent of the flood damage yet to be revealed.
Despite an ongoing assessment process, Worley believes insurance companies should process and pay claims immediately, because a lot of victims don't have a place to live.
“I do not think that a delay is warranted by the number of claims, because each policyholder pays for coverage and there are plenty of independent adjusters that can be hired to process the claims,” he added.
Mark Hanna, a spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas, says additional adjusters are brought in to handle the massive number of claims following weather catastrophes.
“It does take time to reach all of those policyholders who have been affected, and that process is taking place as we speak,” said Hanna.
“Oftentimes, those that have been hit the worse are given a priority status, but all of those who have contacted their agent or company about a claims should have already heard back from an adjuster or when that person will be there to estimate property damages.”
Instead of filing suit right of the bat, Hanna recommends policyholders in disagreement with their adjuster should always speak with their agent first.
And if the two sides still can’t reach an agreement, Hanna says the disgruntle policyholder can file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance – an insurance industry regulator.
“Filing a complaint with TDI is much quicker and all of the money that is due a policyholder goes to the policyholder, rather than to any attorney who enters the picture,” Hanna added.
Many parts of Houston came to a standstill from the flooding.
Hanna said not even counting flooded homes and apartment complexes, Houston had thousands of cars and trucks that were damaged by floodwaters.