While being struck by lightning has become a metaphor for unlikelihood, rarity hardly equates to myth. Lightning can accompany common thunderstorms and severe hurricanes alike. As we enter the warm weather months, it’s important to understand what kind of damage lightning causes. The fallacy that lightning never strikes seems to be perpetuated by the assumption that a bolt will be directly thrown through a person. The odds of your body succumbing to lightning burns is not the risk with which you should be the most concerned. Even if you are struck, there is a chance that the currents will merely leave you with a tattoo of a snowflake engraved like a stretch mark. However, even if lightning does not strike your person, it can still put your home in grave danger if it strikes anywhere in the surrounding area. These non-bodily brushes are the ones that you are most likely to encounter.Sparked up above, lightning is essentially looking for a straight shot from the sky to the ground. Unfortunately, your home might end up being a bolt’s bullseye. The likelihood of your home being struck goes up with higher elevation and the presence of metal rods on your roof. However, there are really no absolute conditions that exempt your house from risk. If your home decides to welcome in a shiny shot of electrical currents, chances are, the point of entry will be the roof. It is critical to call the fire department right away. Even if you may not immediately witness a fire, there may be one brewing in an attic or crawlspace that will inevitably spread. Of course, with or without a fire, your home has been subjected to a fair amount of damage. Most homeowners policies do cover lightning incidents, but because roof damage can be especially complicated, proving its source to your insurer may prove arduous.
But, before we can address solutions to claim underpayment or denial, there is another form of lightning damage to consider. Even if lightning does not strike your home directly, it can still trigger substantial damage to your electrical system—specifically, your electronics—if it strikes in the area. If a touch down occurs on a neighboring power line, your panel may not survive without surge protection. Just like the fire in the attic scenario, the extent of the damage may not be immediately visible. It is best to have your electrical system examined by a reputable electrician. If you go to turn on a TV or desktop computer just to find that it’s fried, there’s a strong possibility that your electronics were casualties. If your homeowners insurance policy covers contents, be sure to photograph any signs of damage, as well as the unit’s serial number. Between an electrician’s report, as well as your own documentation, you will have a strong case to make a homeowners claim.
Of course, as with any property casualty claim, there is room for error. Whenever you are dealing with a fire and roof claim, it is imperative to strike a balance of protecting your home from further damage (ex. rain entering a hole in the roof) and keeping the scene intact prior to professional inspection. Having a lawyer present in your claim can help curtail accusations that damage was self-inflicted or pre-existing. If you were a victim of a strike that directly targeted your electrical panel, also stay cautious. Some electricians may try to trick you into being charged for a “free estimate,” and your insurer may try to claim that your specific type of panel is not covered. A lawyer can send out a reputable source to analyze your electrical system, as well as examine your policy to see if alleged panel exemptions are actually present. While lightning and loopholes may be rare occurrences, they do happen. While you can’t re-route nature’s electrical currents, you can protect your home by calling in for backup.
Contact our New Orleans Property Casualty Attorneys today by calling (844) 587-8395.