How to Handle Personal Injury During a Flood

October 17, 2018 @ 10:45 am

personal injury and flooding blog photo

In the South, flooding is an unfortunate fact of life. Nearly every community along the Gulf Coast is within one mile of a river or stream. When you factor in the amount of rainfall, hurricane seasons, storm surges and levee malfunctions, water can quickly become a consistent source of disaster for the region’s homeowners.

Flooding, Homeowners Insurance and the Risk of Personal Injury

In the last forty years, FEMA has recorded nearly 120 “significant flood events” with financial losses sometimes accounting for billions of dollars per event. While only FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program covers water damage caused by weather and other external forces, it covers only the insured buildings and certain specified contents within those buildings.

It has no provision for bodily harm that might occur to the people within those buildings or the personal injury claims that may result. For those claims, homeowners must rely on their regular homeowners insurance — a fact that many insurance companies are reluctant to acknowledge.

Personal Injuries During Flooding

Flooding and other natural disasters are dangerous because they can happen so quickly and be so pervasive. Within minutes, water can turn everything — from roads and driveways to electrical, water and sewage systems — into long-term hazards that can worsen over time.

Whether fast-flowing or stagnant, water can do significant harm, even if it’s contained within your home. Lacerations, puncture wounds, embedded foreign materials, shocks, contamination from toxins, slips and falls, strikes from moving objects and entrapment all become causes for considerable concern during a home flood situation.

In the unsanitary conditions common to flooded environments, even a small cut can result in a life-threatening medical condition. To pay for these health expenses, injured parties may have little choice but to file a personal injury claim against their homeowners insurance — or a lawsuit if this claim is rejected.

Personal Liability Coverage for Personal Injury Claims

Homeowners insurance policies typically have a provision for personal liability in case someone is hurt while they are on your property. It’s important to note that the term within a homeowners insurance policy is personal liability, not personal injury. Homeowners insurance distinguishes between the two:

  • Personal liability usually covers bodily injury or property damage that you would be considered responsible for because it happened on your property. It’s usually a standard part of a homeowners insurance policy.
  • Personal injury covers issues other than bodily injury or property damage. It’s usually an optional, added endorsement to cover emotional or psychological damages that you may be considered responsible for.

Despite the fact that personal liability is usually a standard part of a homeowners insurance policy, insurance providers may attempt to reject or dispute bodily injury claims that result from situations associated with a natural disaster—like flooding.

Even though the insurance company has a legal obligation to cover the injury to the policy’s established limit, homeowners facing a personal injury suit often must seek out legal representation to get their provider to do the right thing.

How To Get Compensation for Personal Injuries Sustained in Flooding

If someone is hurt in your home, your homeowners insurance personal liability coverage should pay for the injured party’s losses. Compensation typically includes death benefits, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering as well as your legal costs.

If you are facing a personal injury suit or an insurance company has attempted to deny your legitimate personal injury claim, Morrow, Morrow, Ryan, Bassett & Haik is here to help. Contact us through our website, or call us at 800-655-4783 for a free consultation.