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Is Your Flooded Louisiana Property “Substantially Damaged”? What It May Mean To You!

On August 22, 2016, FEMA directed flood insurance claims adjusters to help local government officials in promptly identifying “Substantially Damaged” property. Specifically, FEMA stated that claims adjusters are required to submit daily reports of possible substantially damaged properties to the National Flood Insurance Program Bureau & Statistical Agent. Substantially Damaged is a term that applies to a damaged structure in a Special Flood Hazard Area or floodplain where the cost total cost of repair is 50 percent or more than the structure’s market value before the flood occurred. For example, if the value before the flood was $250,000 and the repairs cost $130,000, the structure is “substantially damaged.” The land value is excluded from the calculation. The decision about whether a structure is substantially damaged is made at the local government level, generally by a building inspectors, zoning administrators and other permit official that enforce the flood-plain management requirements of a community participating in the National Flood Insurance Program. A “substantial damage” determination is important because the determination will dictate whether additional work will be needed to comply with local codes and ordinances, such as elevating a house in a floodplain (or flood proofed if it is a non-residential structure) to or above the level of the 100-year or base flood, and meet other applicable requirements. If the structure is substantially damaged and not brought into compliance with community floodplain management regulations, then your flood insurance premiums could increase to thousands of dollars per year. If you need help with […]

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Injured Car Passenger Awarded Damages, But Louisiana Appellate Court Affirms Finding that Neck Injury Was Not Related to the Accident

Reviewing a judgment in favor of the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld both the liability and the damages findings of the lower court.  The appellate court in this case stated the Louisiana rule of comparative negligence as it applied to the facts of this case, as well as the rule that a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit must prove the causal connection between the accident and their subsequent injuries. Shone Bush was a passenger in a red Camaro driven by Todd Williams. Mr. Williams drove into the parking lot of a restaurant in Marrero, Louisiana, and while attempting to travel to a parking place, he collided with a gate/ramp extending from the rear of a delivery truck.  The car suffered damage, and Mr. Bush alleged he sustained physical injuries due to the accident. Mr. Bush and Mr. Williams brought a lawsuit for damages against the owner of the truck and its insurance company.  At the completion of the trial, the court found that the defendants were liable and allocated fault 75% to Mr. Williams and 25% to the owner of the truck.  Mr. Bush was awarded $3,511.50 and Mr. Williams $2,376.25 in damages.  Mr. Bush appealed the trial court’s decisions on liability and damages.

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Louisiana Flood Insurance Policyholder? FEMA Makes Available Early Partial Settlement Payments

In an effort to speed up Louisiana recovery efforts and get settlement cash into the hands of Louisiana’s Flood Insurance Policyholders, FEMA is making available early partial settlement payments even before an adjuster’s inspection.  FEMA has made changes to allow for the following: • Homeowners can get up to $5,000 each for a policy covering their home and a policy covering their contents by signing an advance payment form.  This form can be obtained from the company servicing your policy. •Up to half of the estimated settlement amount can be paid out if the homeowners has a copy of a contractor’s estimate and gets the property inspected by the adjuster.  FEMA is providing National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Servicing Agent and Independent Adjusting Firms with Advance Payments Guidance for both opportunities.  The FEMA guidance says that the insurer must notify the policyholder in writing of the following conditions: 1.The advance payment is not a payment for Additional Living Expenses (ALE). ALE is specifically excluded in the SFIP. 2.The advance payment is conditioned upon the insured signing an Advance Payment Request which contains a Non-Waiver Agreement (which means that no claims by the insured or insurer, or available defenses to the insured or insurer, are prejudiced or waived by the issuance and acceptance of the advance payment, and coverage under the policy is not admitted). 3.Acceptance of an advance payment will not affect the insured’s right to seek additional payments under the terms and conditions of their SFIP. 4.After the claim is settled, […]

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Louisiana Appellate Court Affirms Judgment in Favor of Out-of-State Employer When Injured Employee Completed Pre-Employment Requirements Outside Louisiana and Job Located Outside the State

Recently, the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal addressed the issue of jurisdiction, or the power of a court to hear a lawsuit. In Louisiana, the Office of Workers’ Compensation has jurisdiction over workers’ compensation proceedings.  The law provides for extraterritorial coverage, or coverage outside the state, provided that the employee meets certain requirements.  In this case, the appellate court reviewed whether the trial court properly found that the Louisiana resident in this case had not met those requirements. Lemcy Cortez was a Louisiana resident hired by a Texas corporation to drive trucks in Oklahoma.  While working, Mr. Cortez suffered injuries in an automobile accident. He filed a Disputed Claim for Compensation with the Louisiana Office of Workers’ Compensation against his employer and their insurance company for workers’ compensation.  Mr. Cortez claimed that his employer refused to pay his workers’ compensation benefits, even though he was injured in the course and scope of his employment.

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