A New York and New Jersey Lawyer Who Represents Policyholders and Beneficiaries in Life Insurance Denial Cases

A Columbia University Law Professor, Michael Gerrard, recently penned an article in the New York Law Journal addressing governmental and private liability for flooding.

This is a particularly prescient article given that the New York/New Jersey region was recently hit by Hurricane Irene. In fact, on a trip to New Jersey after it occurred, I observed a water level that was nearly to the top of a bridge underpass that had a sign saying there was a 13 foot clearance.

Some key points from the article:

  • Government has no duty to protect persons and property from flooding or to construct drainage systems, but if government construction worsens flooding conditions, there may be liability; examples are if levies or dams are negligent designed or constructed – say when a dam collapses;
  • Government generally is not liable for issuing incorrect weather forecasts;
  • Government has no legal duty to provide emergency services, unless a statute requires it, but if it chooses to do so, it will be liable if they are negligently performed;
  • Flood Insurance: many insurance policies do not provide coverage for flood damage, while covering wind damage. It is further important to understand that some policies cover all risks except for those that are specifically excluded, while other policies only cover enumerated risk. (Thus, read your policy carefully!) There has been much litigation after natural disasters and severe storms about whether the damage was caused by wind or water. Because the private market has, in effect, contracted itself out of the flood insurance business, that type of coverage has been made available by the government (see the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968), but beware – the program is expiring.
  • Architects and Engineers: these professionals may be liable if structures do not withstand foreseeable floods and damage ensues.

The first step, after suffering flood damage, is always to make a claim against applicable insurance policies. If the claim is denied, whether there is legal recourse against the insurance company, or perhaps other parties, is a question that is highly-fact dependent and also involves a careful analysis of the law.

One Response to “Who Is Liable For Flooding?”

  1. Lolita Tarpy says:

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