Legal and Practical Guide for Hurricane Season

For the first time in a decade, a hurricane has caused substantial damage on Florida’s Gulf Coast.  Because such events have (thankfully) been rare in recent history, residents should remember the following:

-Do not travel outside your home until the storm warnings have passed.

-If you must travel, use a truck or SUV instead of a sedan or sports car, if possible.

-Do not enter bodies of water with your vehicle or person.

-If your car becomes immersed in water, immediately turn off the ignition.  Do not engage the throttle as many newer cars have air intakes on the undercarriage that will flood the engine in as little as a few inches of rain, disabling your car, blocking others, and creating a dangerous situation.  If at least two strong adults are available, you may be able to shift the car into neutral and push it to higher ground before driving away in another direction.  A smaller adult or teenager may be able to help steer the car, if necessary, while the larger adults push.

-Do not work or play near storm drains due to heavy suction.

-Stay out of pools, lakes, rivers, and flooded streets.

-If your area has not flooded yet, check to ensure that drains and runoff areas are not obstructed or clogged.

-Ensure that you have ample supplies of any essential medicines or consumable products. (Diapers, baby formula, diabetes needles, etc.)

-Fill at least one bathtub with water that can be used in the event the supply is disrupted or contaminated.  In the alternative, purchase at least one case of bottled water for every two family members.

-After the storm passes, patrol your property for any large buildup of water that could host breeding insects, mold, or bacteria.

-Despite these precautions, it is possible that your home, vehicle, or vessel could be damaged.  Remember that if your insurance company fails to promptly pay a valid claim, Florida’s “insurance bad faith” law forces them to absorb your legal fees and costs.

-Businesses and event planners should consider purchasing business disruption insurance, particularly if they derive substantial revenue from a single event during hurricane season. (E.g. a Labor Day or Halloween event.)  This allows businesses to avoid the risks of proceeding with an event that may be rendered dangerous by weather conditions while ensuring that the business can recoup at least some of its profits.

-Attorney Beltran is waiving his generally applicable consultation fee for homeowners and entrepreneurs who have suffered substantial (five figure or higher) damages during hurricane season.

The foregoing is a general guide and does not constitute legal or other professional advice.  You are not my client and I am not your lawyer just because you read this article.  If you need advice applicable to your particular situation, please contact the office.