October 24, 2018

Sinkholes occur in Florida more frequently than any other U.S. state. For more than 20 years, Corless Barfield Trial Group has assisted families, community associations managers, public adjusters, and other law firms and owners to resolve the complex legal and engineering issues arising from sinkhole claims and the litigation process.  Having recovered more than $250 million from insurance companies, and having represented most of Florida’s largest insurance companies, Team Corless Barfield brings a unique perspective to dealing with sinkhole activity.

Sinkholes cause serious, life-threatening damage to the physical structure of homes and businesses. Florida laws, financially backed by insurance lobbyists, allow Florida insurance companies to deny coverage to insureds, hiding in vague and over-lawyered interpretations of legal and scientific concepts. Corless Barfield lawyers will answer your questions and zealously advocate on your behalf when going up against your insurance provider, having handled insurance disputes from the very beginning, in submitting the claim to your insurance company through the claims decision, and if denied, through the filing of a lawsuit and litigating up to and including cases going all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.

The main trigger for sinkholes is water—too much of it or even too little. A good chunk of Florida bedrock is made up of porous rocks such as limestone or sandstone, which can dissolve over time as they interact with acid naturally found in rainwater.  Florida is built on a bedrock of carbonate that dissolves relatively easily in rainwater, which becomes acidic as it seeps through the soil. When a cavity becomes too big to support its ceiling, it suddenly gives way, collapsing the clay and sand above to leave a cavernous hole at the surface.

Florida is especially prone to sinkholes because it is built on limestone. The composition of the sediment above the bedrock is also a factor. Central Florida, including the Orlando and Tampa areas, is at the greatest risk for sinkholes. Tampa Bay is already especially prone to them because of the old limestone with deep cavities. The process that ultimately forms a sinkhole has been going on for millennia.

The annual property damage in Florida from sinkholes is staggering—$300 million is a conservative estimate. Insurance companies routinely hire the same engineering firms time and again in order to provide reports so that the insurance company can deny your sinkhole claim.

Corless Barfield lawyers are known for their thorough investigations and litigation practice when it comes to sinkhole claims and fighting insurance companies on behalf of their policyholder clients. Call us today toll-free at (877) 517-5595 or locally at (813) 258-4998 for questions about sinkhole claims and property damage disputes.

Whether you have sinkhole coverage or not, an experienced and knowledgeable sinkhole attorney will defend your claim and help prove that the damage your home sustained should either be covered under your separate sinkhole policy or that the damage was caused by catastrophic ground cover collapse, and should be covered under your regular insurance policy.

So can you prepare for a sinkhole? Check out maps by the Florida Geological Survey to see if you are in a high-risk area or if your neighbors have reported a sinkhole. Also look around your home and yard for any cracks or holes.

Are you a Licensed Community Association Manager (“LCAM”), and are fielding questions from your owners about potential sinkhole damage, or just have questions about the insurance associated with these claims? If so, we are happy to provide you guidance.  We also regularly provide continuing education training for LCAM certification.

Corless Barfield concentrates our practice in sinkhole litigation, property insurance, and personal injury law. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today for a free consultation.