Super Storm Sandy swept through the shores of New Jersey 10 months ago. Unlike parts of the Southeast, The New Jersey shore has rarely suffered catastrophic damage due to storms. Many beachfront homes, board walks and businesses were severely damaged or destroyed. Area residents had to reconcile with the sight of vast destruction of the famous boardwalk. Recovery came quickly for some, but others had their reconstruction tied up in financial problems, government red tape or disputes over insurance claims.
Last week Sandy struck once again. A fire destroyed dozens of small businesses as well as a long section of re-constructed boardwalk in Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. Officials believe faulty wiring, possibly damaged by Sandy, sparked the fire. Water, wind and now fire has wreaked havoc on the Jersey shore. The flaming destruction may spark more than just fist sized embers flying through the 30 mph winds. It could spark litigation as to who’s responsible for paying for the damages caused by the disaster. It will require a number of expert witnesses who specialize in fire cause and origin, economic damages and insurance coverage.
The preliminary damages are estimated at $5 to $10 million. Many small businesses didn’t have much success during the summer and were hoping to make up the revenue in the fall. Now their best hopes are claiming insurance coverage and waiting for government aid.
If you’re a plaintiff’s attorney dealing with the aftermath of a major fire, you can be instrumental to the victim of the recent fire. Clients will be very emotional over the loss of their home or business. Those emotions may impact their decisions on how legal or insurance claims should be resolved. Government agencies and fire marshals may get involved. Insurance adjusters will try to determine reconstruction costs and lost income for businesses. Evidence needs to be preserved but reconstruction needs to get started right away.
To help you through this legal, fiscal and emotional ordeal, there are wide ranges of experts. Fire cause and origin expert witnesses may be the key to determining the cause of the fire, and who should cover for the damages. Economics expert witnesses can calculate a monetary number on the fiscal losses. If the issues are complex, insurance coverage experts may be needed to opine on claims handling and insurance bad faith.
As an attorney, you can help homeowners, businesses, and insurance companies resolve claim issues so that everyone can move forward to rebuild Jersey Shore. Expert witnesses can help you and your clients obtain a fair settlement faster by providing expert opinion on the matter through technical and scientific methods. Together, everyone can put the disaster behind them and start the rebuilding process that is to come at the shore.
By Rodney Warner, J.D.