Disasters, such as the recent storms that ravaged Southwest Florida and other parts of our country, can cause a chain of legal issues that will arise days, weeks and even months afterwards. As victims of natural disasters start working on rebuilding their lives, they may have to deal with different legal issues either at home or in business that can last long after the water recedes. The stress that comes with rebuilding can oftentimes be combined with other unwanted stresses; however, the law and legal institutions are there to effectively assist in the recovery process.
Below are some of the legal issues that victims of hurricanes or natural disasters may have to deal with during the aftermath of these disastrous events.
The aftermath of a disaster is always followed by insurance claims for damage, as well as business interruption. The first step that both individuals and businesses alike should take is communicating the loss that they have suffered to their insurance companies. In order to effectively submit your claim, keep these key things in mind:
- Inventory and take pictures.
- Examine your insurance policy and the recovery options available to you.
- If necessary, assemble a team of experts to help you navigate the entire process, as well as help you maximize your loss recovery.
Natural disasters can wreak havoc and cause plenty of damage to any business. Some employers are forced to close shop temporary or in some cases, completely and hence dismiss their employees. If that is the case, some employees might argue they require unemployment compensation. When dealing with such matters, employers need to understand their state’s unemployment compensation laws. The State of Florida offers disaster unemployment assistance in order to assist those whose jobs have been affected by the recent hurricane. The laws vary state-by-state, so it is important that your business gets in touch with a knowledgeable source to be sure that proper steps are being taken regarding your employees.
Landlord-Tenant Legal Issues
If you are a renter and the property you were renting is damaged in the disaster, you need to give a written notice to the landlord about the damage if your landlord hasn’t done this already. Many times, the landlord will conduct his/her own inspection of the property and make the necessary claims to their insurance without inconveniencing you. If the landlord does not make the repairs within a reasonable time, you can move out of the property only after giving a written notice. In such a case, you are entitled to a refund of prepaid rent and the security deposit. However, if the property is too damaged and you have to move, you are entitled to your security deposit, but only after giving notice and also your forwarding address.
Issues relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) can also arise as damages occur to medical buildings, causing records to become displaced. In such instances, such a breach will require these affected offices to notify patients accordingly.
Navigating the legal procedures during a disaster can be difficult, especially when you have to deal with damaged property. It is advisable to have legal counsel assist you and guide you through this process. The experts at Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. have called Southwest Florida home for the past 46 years. Call (239) 649-6555 for the Naples office, (239) 394-5161 for the Marco Island office or visit www.wpl-legal.com for more information.