Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hurricane Ike FAQ Update

17.  What is the statute of limitations for my claim?  What is a statute of limitations? Why should I pay particular attention to that date?  In Texas, a statute of limitations is the time period in which you must file suit or forever be barred from suit being filed.  There is law in Texas that allows parties to a contract to limit the statute of limitations by agreement.  Because an insurance policy is a contract insurance companies often take the position that the statute of limitations for a particular claim runs when the policy says it runs. To avoid this issue you should pay attention to your policy.  Most insurance policies have a section entitled "Suit Against Us" or something similar.  Within that provision you can normally find the limitations period which will apply to you.  You must file a suit and diligently attempt service within that time period.  To fail to do so could mean you forever lose your rights to have your claim heard in court. Some flood policies have a limitations period that runs at the one year anniversary of the date of the loss.  You must read your policy or call someone to ask questions about what the policy means. Sometimes, you may not know you were taken advantage of until much later. When in doubt, call our firm. We can help you by explaining your rights.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Scam Alert - "Orange Savings Bank"

From time to time national scams catch on locally and become an issue for our friends and clients. One such example made the online edition of the Beaumont Enterprise today. Please take the time to read about the latest scam involving the unauthorized use of the name "Orange Savings Bank."

Please avoid giving out personal information in response to unsolicited email or phone calls. As sure as this scam can be applied to take advantage of the Orange Savings Bank customers it can also be adapted to your own bank.  Be cautious.

New Ike FAQ Entry

An additional question has come since the most recent rain bands passing through our area:

16.  My home or business was damaged as a result of Hurricane Ike. Later, before I could get repairs completed, a new set of rain showers came through and did additional damage to my home or business. How should I handle this?  You should report the claim to your insurance company as soon as possible. A new rain storm may mean a new covered loss. To an insurance company this may mean a new claim number will be assigned and a new adjustment of the property will be desired.  You have an obligation to allow inspection of any additional loss. Similarly, your insurance company has the same duties and obligations to you that it has arising out of a Hurricane.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Houston Bar Association Ike FAQ

In addition to our Ike FAQ you may want to review the Houston Bar Association Ike FAQ which deals with a number of additional issues including: FEMA relief, price gouging, employment, and others.  They have offered a series of videos which may help you on a specific question we have not yet addressed.

Two New Useful Links

Two new links have been added to the "Useful Links" section of this page.  You can find those to the right.  

1.  Texas Lemon law information at the Texas Department of Transportation Website.  This site provides information that can assist you in the event you believe the car you just bought may be so thoroughly defective you are entitled to a new one.  Under their "Additional Information" link you can find guides to car buying, car repair, and a sample letter that can be used to get the lemon law complaint process going.

2.  The Office of the Attorney General of Texas.  This site provides guidance on a broad range of legal subjects including child support and consumer protection.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Is the Texas Residential Construction Commission Worth Keeping?

A little over a month ago, a local news station in the Panhandle raised the question: Is the TRCC worth keeping? For a little background, the TRCC was created in 2003 and was largely supported by home builders and contractors.  A local representative, Allan Ritter, authored the bill, carried it to passage, and has recently argued that it should survive.  What has come out as of late through the work of the Sunset Review Commission is that the TRCC was never really meant to regulate the contractors and   as much as it was meant to protect them from being held accountable for their mistakes.  What the TRCC does is create a lengthy process for resolving disputes with contractors. That process must be followed and has been known to drag disputes out for years before any resolution is reached.  For that reason, many attorneys no longer accept claims where the TRCC process is implicated.

Friday, October 3, 2008

IRS Provides Guidance on Ike Related Issues

The IRS has postponed certain deadlines for businesses and individuals located in counties affected by Hurricane Ike.  The postponement may affect your deadline for return filing, tax payment, deposit penalties for employment and excise deposits, and more.  You can find the details associated with the postponement at the IRS website.

In addition to relief from these deadlines the IRS has also provided some direction as to how casualty losses will be handled.  Specifically, "individuals may deduct personal property losses that are not covered by insurance or other reimbursements but they must first subtract $100 for each casualty event and then subtract 10 percent of their adjusted gross income from their total casualty losses for the year." Hurricane Ike losses, therefore, require special attention when considering the income tax implications.

Useful Links

This page created by the TRCC is a useful collection of Hurricane Ike related links.  I have added some additional links on the right side of this page.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Roofer Scams has a helpful video available on their website which discusses a hazard common after Rita and likely to rear its ugly head after Ike, the scamming roofer.  If you sustained roof damage during Hurricane Ike it is worth your time to watch this video and educate yourself in hopes that you can avoid becoming a victim of more than just the storm.