The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey has been, and will continue to be, a rush of rebuilding and reinvesting in and around the Houston area. Natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornados result in a multitude of property, injury, and liability claims. Investigating these claims comes in the normal course of our business and likely yours. In addition to damage assessments, verification of liability, and documentation of injuries, other substantial investigative issues arise when these deadly storms tear our homes and businesses apart.
After hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, a number of individuals and businesses were prosecuted for filing false claims with insurers and the federal government. False claims of damage were exaggerations, self-inflicted, or in some cases, damage was nonexistent. Other times, these claims were part of a larger scheme to submit multiple false claims by interrelated persons. Learning from this historical event, insurance companies and individuals recognize that it is critical to know who is filing a claim and the true reality of the assessed damage.
In addition to physical damage to property, determining the liability of individuals and businesses who have neglected their responsibility can be a challenge without assistance from licensed investigators. Dominating the media after recent hurricanes, we read tragic news of the deaths of nursing home residents abandoned in the midst of the storm. In cases such as this, businesses and individuals must determine the potential for injury from the process of evacuation from a hurricane as opposed to the decision to stay and shelter. Uncovering the facts that led to the decision process can be critical especially when families of affected individuals receive the horrific news. Interviews of employees, neighbors, residents and local officials, as well as reviews of news media, security video and cellular phone data, are necessary when investigating such events. Many times, we find that detailing a time line of activity can be extraordinarily helpful. Queuing up the warnings and predictions to specific times can be an effective trial strategy for either side.
Additional liability investigations after a hurricane can even include environmental damages or widespread disaster with manufacturing and refinery facilities. Again, a key factor in those investigations will be determining what affirmative action business managers took leading up to, during, and after the storm. Past records of facility inspections, safety warnings and infractions can help bolster either legal argument. Investigators must determine whether proper standards and appropriate safety measures were adhered to during a natural disaster.
Turning to Bearden Investigative Agency for help, our clients gain peace of mind knowing that all claims reported are fully investigated, and evidence obtained by our attorney-led investigations will hold up in a court of law or any potential legal proceedings. Investigations and the resulting documentation start with detailed public record research, neighborhood interviews, and surveillance if necessary.
During this hurricane season, if you need assistance in investigating hurricane claims or in litigation surrounding hurricane activities in the Houston or New Orleans area, please contact our office at 1.800.943.2670.