Articles Posted in Insurance

We have handled many cases over the years where insurance companies have wrongfully denied insurance claims. Common cases include denials of life insurance benefits, home fires, sink hole damage and disability benefits. Jon Street of our office leads the litigation team on these case and he has gained a reputation as a leader in this field in Tennessee.

Unfortunately, the current legislature is attempting to make it more difficult to take your insurance company to Court if they deny your claim. Jim Higgins was recently interviewed regarding these changes. You can watch the interview below:

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Every day innocent people here in Tennessee and across the country are injured through no fault of their own. And every day insurance companies give their all to avoid having to pay legitimate claims to those victims. Using a variety of tricks, they attempt to limit the amount of money they have to pay to those who are entitled to it.

No one is under the illusion that insurance companies are in the business of anything other than making a profit. One of the ways the insurance industry attempts to maximize their profits is by shifting the blame off their client. No blame means no payout. If that is not possible then they will try and minimize the level of fault in order to minimize the loss. This is called “comparative negligence” and is the criteria used by Tennessee law. Under comparative negligence more than one person can be at fault in a situation. The one with the higher burden of fault has the higher burden of penalty put on him. If it can be shown that their client was only 40% to blame then they only have to pay 40% of the penalty.

This split is relatively easy to differentiate when there is straight and easily calculated figures to work with. Things like lost wages, damaged property, and medical bills are concrete numbers that are hard to dispute. Where things get murky is when abstract ideas like pain and suffering or emotional distress. This makes the insurance companies work even harder to keep their payout at a minimum.

All of this legal wrangling is easy for the insurance companies. They have countless numbers of lawyers on staff whose sole function is to do just this: keep the company’s losses as low as possible. They have the resources to fight and battle and prolong a situation until the victim is bewildered and desperate. That’s why it’s vitally important to have a good lawyer in your corner fighting for your rights.
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Flooding and tropical storms have caused sinkholes and sinkhole damage in many areas across the country from Guatemala City to right here in Tennessee. We have all unfortunately experienced the damages flooding can cause and many of us are still picking up the pieces from the recent flooding. Before all this flooding and storms, many of us may never have experienced a sinkhole or the damage it can cause. This is why many sinkhole victims are probably wondering what exactly a sinkhole is and how much damage it can truly cause.

Sinkholes can occur naturally in the landscape in many places in Florida and in Tennessee. Sinkholes are becoming more common in these areas because of new developments in ground water and other land resources. Many sinkholes are usually just an annoyance but as many of us here in Tennessee now know they can also cause substantial or even devastating damage to buildings, roads, and other structures and they can even cause more flood damage when they are plugged up because they can capture surface water and create new lakes and wetlands in areas where they may not have been water before.

There are three types of sinkholes. These include: dissolution sinkholes, cover-subsidence sinkholes, and cover-collapse sinkholes. A dissolution sinkhole is when water comes in contact with rock or with openings in the rock. This can be anywhere from slight like a minor rainfall or aggressive like with the recent flooding. Cover-subsidence sinkholes develop more slowly and cover areas that are easy to break or pass through and may contain sand. Finally, cover-collapse sinkholes can cause catastrophic damages like the ones in Tennessee and across the country and can develop abruptly in a short amount of time. They usually occur in areas containing clay.

Many people may also be wondering if the damage they have experienced is actually from a sinkhole. There are many other things that can cause soil problems and damage to structures that are actually not a sinkhole. These things may include but are not limited to:
• Shrink-Swell Clay (i.e. rainfall amounts causing the soil to absorb large amounts of water and either swell or shrink)
• Buried debris (i.e. foundation damage caused by a builder or people burring materials in the area)
• Vegetation damage (i.e. growing plants)
• Foundation pressure
• High groundwater levels
These things can cause soil or other structure damage and may not be as serious as a sinkhole but can be just as damaging.
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Many of us across the country and even right here in Tennessee have been experiencing sinkholes and sinkhole damage due to recent storms and flooding. This has left many residents of Tennessee sad, scared, and confused not knowing where to turn or what to do next. Well, if you have sinkhole damage, you may be entitled to compensation if your case is heard by an experienced and caring sinkhole damage attorney at the Higgins Firm, but first there are some steps that needed to be taken before a case can be made.

First, it is important to know what sinkhole damage looks like because many other things can cause soil and structure damage besides just sinkholes. The most common signs of sinkhole damage include but are not limited to:
• Cracks in windows or doors • Cracks in exterior blocks or to the foundation • Windows and doors are harder to close • Depressions or soft spots in your yard or nearby yards • Deep cracks in the pavement • Dying plants in circular patterns • Actual signs of a cavity opening in the ground

Once you have determined that you most likely are suffering from damages due to a sinkhole, you should contact your insurance company and they will see if further investigation is needed. If an actual sinkhole starts to form, it is recommended that you close off the area with rope and contact your insurance company right away. After your insurance company determines that you do have sinkhole damage, a professional will be called to do testing for the sinkhole and its damage. This may take a few days to complete. After the testing is completed, your insurance company will provide you with a report about the findings. If this is sinkhole activity, then it is the insurance company’s job to determine what they will do and how they will handle your claim. Finally, if you do not agree with the report or the insurance company about your sinkhole claim, then you can hire an experienced and caring Tennessee sinkhole damage attorney to help you.
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Many of the residents here in Tennessee and people across the country, have been experiencing sinkhole damage because of large amounts of rainfall and constant flowing. Many residents have experienced damage to their homes, schools, and businesses and many people have turned to their insurance companies for help only to unfortunately find out that their insurance does not cover sinkhole damage to their property. This has left many people scared, confused, and not knowing what to do next. If the insurance company has denied your claim of sinkhole damage or failed to handle it properly, then you may want to seriously considering hiring a local Tennessee sinkhole damage attorney to hear your case. Here are some tips on how to do just that.

If you have had your property tested for sinkhole damage and it has been determined that you do have sinkhole activity, you may be entitled to compensation by your insurance company for your claim.
By now, you may be wondering what attorney can do about my sinkhole claim. Well, this is very good question. An attorney will go back and read the results from the report that the insurance company gave to you. If they feel that you have a valid claim, then may contact their own experts and specialists to re-exam your property, then they will help you to file an appeal about the denied insurance claim.

One of the experienced Tennessee sinkhole claim attorneys at the Higgins Firm will be able to make sure that your insurance company does not just pay the maximum amount on your home but also pays for the repairs to it as well. If the sinkhole damage to your property is extensive then an attorney can help make sure you are fairly compensated for the damages. They will also be able to help you find the best contactors to get the repairs completed properly.
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After the recent flooding all across the area and right here in Nashville, Tennessee, many people are struggling to deal with damages to their homes, property damage, personal items being loss or destroyed and much more. After something like this happens, it is very emotional and many people can be very confused about what to do or who to turn to for help. If you call your insurance company, you may unfortunately find out that you are not covered by flood insurance or that the insurance only covers part of the damage. This can make the confusion and emotional process of it that much harder. Here at the Higgins Firm, we are a local firm located right here in Nashville and we understand what flooding can do to your home, property and lives because we were recently affected by the flooding as well. We care about you and your property and want to help you get the answers you seek and the help you need.

Many people tend to think that when you buy insurance that it covers everything, your home and all the property inside of your home as well. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. Most insurance agents may not explain to their customers as well as they should, that they may need additional flood coverage to cover the home and items lost or damaged during a flood. People get insurance for a reason, and it is to make sure they are covered and can feel protected when things like floods occur. Therefore, if an insurance agent fails to properly explain about flood coverage then the agent should be the one at fault when it comes to misleading or not explaining things properly to their customers. In Tennessee, insurance agents have a duty to explain to their clients about their coverage and the importance of it, including flood coverage. They should not just assume that their clients know that they are not covered.

Here are some facts about flood insurance from that every customer should know:
• Homeowners insurance usually does not cover floods • Just an inch of water can cause damage to your property • New land development and construction may increase a flood risk • It may take 30 days after purchasing for a policy to go into effect • If you live in a moderate to low risk flooding area, you may still be eligible for flood insurance
References and for more information about flooding and flood insurance tips, you may visit: Continue Reading

This week I finished a case where an insurance company had refused to pay the benefits owed under a life insurance policy. Basically my clients’ young son lost his life in car wreck. To help pay for the medical and funeral expenses my clients made a claim for payment on their child’s policy. The claim was denied. What puzzled my client most is that the claim was denied because of something in his sons medical history which was accidentally omitted. Remember this child died in a automobile accident not because of health problems. The insurance company claimed that if they would have had an accurate medical history they never would have insured the child and therefore the legally do not have to pay.

Fortunately, we were able to resolve the case in favor of my client. This did not occur, however, until a lawsuit was filed and significant litigation took place. It amazes me how this insurance company went out of their way to avoid paying this claim. Unfortunately, I have several other cases where insurance companies have denied claims based upon grounds that appear border line frivolous. I can’t help but wonder how many people simply accept the insurance companies rejection. Tennessee does have some modest laws that allow us to punish the insurance company if the denial is made in bad faith. This is often difficult to prove under the law and the financial punishment can be modest in light of the financial power of these companies. Seeing these cases on a day to day basis I truly believe that we should all be discussing “insurance reform” instead of tort reform

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