Deadline for Filing Ike-Related Lawsuits Could Be Fast Approaching, Houston Attorney Says

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Houston attorney Brad T. Wyly says policyholders could lose their right to sue insurance companies over hurricane property damage claims if no legal action is taken in the coming months.

Brad T. Wyly

As with any claim, a Hurricane Ike claim needs to be filed before the statute of limitations runs, or else the claim is barred under Texas law.

Texas homeowners and businesses in fights with their insurance carriers over Hurricane Ike-related property damages may need to take legal action in the coming months or else lose their right to sue, Houston personal injury attorney Brad T. Wyly says.

“As with any claim, a Hurricane Ike claim needs to be filed before the statute of limitations runs, or else the claim is barred under Texas law,” says Wyly, the founding partner of Wyly Law Firm, P.C. “For many policyholders, the deadline for filing a lawsuit could be fast approaching on or near the two-year anniversary of this terrible storm.”

Hurricane Ike slammed the Texas coast near Galveston as a Category 2 storm on September 13, 2008. The hurricane killed 112 people along the Gulf Coast and wreaked an estimated $29.6 billion in damages in coastal and inland areas. It was one of the third costliest hurricanes in U.S. history.

Although it’s been nearly two years since the storm hit, Wyly says that many homeowners and businesses in Houston and its surrounding communities in Harris and Galveston counties are still in disputes with their insurance carriers over underpaid or unpaid property damage claims.

“It’s unfortunate that the insurance industry’s poor treatment of standard property damage claims has imposed hardship on so many Texas residents,” Wyly says. “Many people have been forced to take their disputes to the courts.”

The Texas Insurance Code and Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act provide relief for those who are victims of unfair or bad-faith insurance practices, such as unreasonable delay or denial of claims.

However, the statute of limitations for such claims – the period in which a lawsuit must be filed – is two years from the date when the wrongful act occurred. For many policyholders, that means the deadline for asserting a claim could start as early as September, Wyly says.

“The time for starting the statute of limitations period could be later if a person’s legal injury was simply undiscoverable or couldn’t be discovered because of fraud,” Wyly says. “But the bottom line is that you shouldn’t risk losing your rights to compensation by waiting too long to take legal action.”

According to a report in the Galveston Daily News, Galveston County’s court officials expect as many as 7,000 Hurricane Ike-related lawsuits to be filed during the coming year, which is roughly three times higher than the usual number of civil suits.

Although some filing deadlines may arrive in the coming months, Wyly pointed out that breach of insurance contract lawsuits could linger through 2012. Under Texas law, the statute of limitations period for breach of contract claims is four years.

About Wyly Law Firm

The Wyly Law Firm, P.C., handles cases in Houston and the surrounding communities, including Baytown, Harris County, Pasadena, Galveston and Beaumont. The firm also handles business law issues and disputes. Attorney Brad T. Wyly, the firm’s founder, is a skilled negotiator and lawyer. Wyly has extensive experience in personal injury cases, including claims involving complex accidents, catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths. He was named a Rising Star in Law & Politics magazine in 2005 and 2006. To contact Wyly Law Firm, P.C., call (713) 574-7034 or use the firm’s online form.

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