This week on legal break, Gary Bruce gives us his advice on how to handle damaged property after a storm. Something as simple as documenting storm damage by photo or video can make all the difference.
Maureen: Hello there and welcome to legal break! I’m Maureen Akers and with me today, as with every Wednesday, is Gary Bruce with Gary Bruce law. Thank you so much for joining us today!
Gary: Good to be here again.
Maureen: We’re here to talk about topics of the day, and by the way we do have email an address on the screen if you’ve got a suggestion, email Amanda Gary, we would love to have them. Bad storms happen in Georgia, gosh the Albany area has been hit twice us just this last month. There’s going to be a lot of repair work going on, how do headed the general consumer avoid from getting ripped off, if you will, from dishonest folks?
Gary: What I think we see primarily is price gouging, using inferior materials, not doing what they say they’re going to do, or it’s getting the money up front and disappearing. You know these are the things that happen to people routinely, and what it comes down to is this – use your common sense. You don’t do business with people you don’t know, and make sure that you get it in writing. Make sure you get an estimate from one or two people and don’t pay them up front, you know. If they’re credible, if they really do the job, they’re going to be able to finance most of the job and then you pay them along the way or when the work is done.
Maureen: Right so do we have any recourse if they’ve done something dishonest or, you know, harmed our belongings or property in any way?
Gary: Yes you do, but the problem is the scoundrels are usually pretty slick so they either disappear or they are judgment-proof, you know. They don’t have assets that you’re going to be able to attach. The legal process is expensive, you know these are the kind of situations where a lawyer sometimes will take things on a contingency fee, but unless you get punitive damages that you can collect you’re going to end up paying the lawyer some of what you lost. So sometimes the lawyer in a civil situation is the way to go, certainly, but sometimes you’re kind of throwing good money after bad. So being careful up front is probably the best thing to do, and of course there’s law enforcement that can enter into it if it’s a real fraud.
Maureen: Right and like you mentioned being careful up front with the different estimates and such as that. But on the other side of that, Gary, what if the insurance company is not handling things in a timely manner?
Gary: Right well we see that too. There are exclusions in people’s contracts, but we never read them, you know. Nobody looks at all that fine print, but it’s there and it serves somebody, not you necessarily. So generally we don’t see a lot of exclusions but you’ve got to be careful, some things aren’t covered and some things are. Make sure your coverage is there for you.
I recommend people document their possessions, take some videos, it’s so easy now. Keep saved somewhere, right, and then it’s there for you to fight if there’s a dispute about what you lost. So that’s one way to deal with it. If they want a statement be leery, it’s not for you, and that maybe when you talk to a lawyer.
Maureen: Yeah, very good! So if you have more questions you can get in touch with Gary Bruce. Thank you so much for joining us today, and we’ll see you again on the very next Legal Break!