Moving Company Disputes in Florida
Serving You and The State of Florida
Moving can be a really stressful process. You have to pack up a lot of boxes and get a lot of items moved to an entirely new location and all in a short period of time. If things go smoothly overall, you will get all of your boxes and items delivered in a speedy fashion to your new location and then all you will have to worry about is unpacking all of it again.
But what if your moving company does not show up when they said they would? What if they lose your items or break them during transit? What if they claim that they are not to blame for these issues? If you have been involved in a moving company dispute and are not sure what to do next, you should read on for more information.
You do not have to accept the moving company’s excuses and if they have damaged your items or delivered them incorrectly, you might need to get legal help to hold them accountable for their mistakes.
Kinds of Issues That Can Be Caused by Moving Company Errors
There are many things that a moving company can do wrong when they are in charge of handling your items as you relocate. These issues are not common, thankfully, but you should be prepared to consider these items an issue if they arise when a moving company is handling your possessions. Moving companies have a duty to provide careful assistance with the moving process.
This might mean that they need to hire enough people to carry heavy items or that they are labeling the boxes that are full of fragile items correctly. All of these steps and precautions are essential to make sure that your items get to your new home in good condition. The moving van must be packed properly so that fragile items are not damaged and so that loads of furniture and other heavy items do not fall down during the trip.
These steps and processes are supposed to be followed by the moving company during every move without exceptions. When steps are missed or items are not properly cared for during your move, damages can occur. Between problems related to a lack of employees to move heavy items, to issues that can take place during the packing of the truck, you will find that moving companies do sometimes drop the ball.
Errors in the processes that keep people’s items safe and secure can lead to significant damage to your possessions while they are on their way to your new home. The following list are the common issues that might lead to the need to start a dispute with your moving company in Florida.
There have been cases where an entire truck of someone’s personal possessions has been delivered to the wrong place, or lost in some fashion. This should never happen, but it is a rare occurrence. More commonly, small items are delivered with other people’s possessions when a shared truck is being used to move someone’s household. Lost items can be a real headache for all involved and you might have to seek a settlement if the lost item is quite large or expensive.
This is a more common problem and it can arise from improper packing procedures as well as incorrect loading and unloading of your items. Damaged items are usually talked about in any moving contract that you consent to, and you will need to revisit your contract to see what the coverages and limitations are for this kind of issue per the company that you hired. Significantly damaged items will almost always require that you ask for a settlement of some kind or open a claim.
Items Removed From Boxes or Protective Wrappings
This is a rare issue, but it can happen. Sometimes items will be partially unwrapped that should not have been handled in this way. This might be due to an effort to identify them in a shared truck setting or it might be because of a misunderstanding on the part of the moving crew that is working on your job. You might not be able to take issue with this behavior unless the unwrapping has caused damage to the item. In most cases, unwrapping delicate items will lead to major damage to the item.
Damage to Your Home or Property
Issues with damages to your property or your home can arise when movers are bringing large and heavy items into the house. This should not be an issue if all the right precautions were taken before items were moved. If your movers have damaged the walls of your home, broken your front door, or driven onto your lawn or over your mailbox, you will need to seek compensation for these damages.
Disputes and Settlements Against a Florida Moving Company
If you have experienced any of these issues when your Florida moving company was relocating your items to your new home, you should first document all of the damages with pictures. This will be your proof of the damages that were caused by your moving company and this is a very important step to take. If you can document the incorrect moving processes that are being used as well, this can help to support your claims.
There are two basic options that you have when you need to dispute the quality of the work of a moving company:
- Seek an arbitration hearing
- Take legal action against your mover
In both cases, you will also usually open a claim with the moving insurance that you have in place for your move. This will help you to get money to replace the items that have been damaged in a timely manner. You might not get the full amount that the items are worth, but this is a good place to start.
There are Federal Regulations that govern the arbitration process that will be used to resolve this dispute. Arbitration requires that your damages are less than, or equal to $10,000. Legal action is taken when your claim exceeds $10,000 or the mover refuses to consent to an arbitration hearing and process. The arbitrator does have the final authority to determine who pays for the hearing, so you should be aware of this detail before you decide between your two options.
Lawsuits can be filed in your state in the correct court and legal papers will be served to the mover’s process agent who is also located in the same state. Process agents will represent the moving company after the papers have been served and will work with your lawyer to try and avoid a court battle over the amount of the damages.
If you are not sure who the process agent is in your state, you can look for that information here. In most cases, your lawyer will be taking care of this step, so you should not need to look up this information for yourself.
How to File a Claim For Damages After a Move-in Florida
One of the best things that you can do for yourself before your move, is take pictures of the condition of all of your items. This will help prove that the damage that you are seeing to your items was done when they were not in your possession. If you have these photos, it can be really easy to show the damage that has been done after or during the move.
When you file a claim for the damages that have been done to your items during the move, you will usually open the claim with the moving insurance that you have in place for the move. During the process of opening the claim, you will be asked to send over documentation of the damages. These might be pictures that you have taken of the damaged items as well as pictures of the way in which they were being moved if this was why the damage occurred.
Being able to provide both the images of the undamaged items and the damage that has occurred can help to prove your case. You will also want to make sure that you provide the dates for the move and the location that you are now living at. The claims person that you speak with will know what to ask you to fill out your claim but you should be prepared with some of this supporting information to fill out the claim.
How Much Does Moving Insurance Usually Pay on a Claim?
Moving insurance will typically pay a sum toward your damages. In some cases, this is not enough to cover what has been lost or damaged in the incident. You will often have to secure a lawyer for some help getting back the rest of the money that you are due for your losses. You will want to be sure that you are not counting on your moving insurance to cover the full dollar amount of items that have been lost or damaged. They might not cover any items that have been lost either.
Your lawyer will know how much your Florida moving insurance usually covers and they will be prepared to help you to get back the rest of the money that you are owed for the mistakes that have been made by the moving company during your move. You will want to be sure that you provide all of the information and documentation that you have access to surrounding the mistake and the move itself to your lawyer. They will use this information to help prepare a case that will be used for the settlement process or for a visit to court over the damages that have been incurred during your move.
Can I Work on a Settlement Agreement Without a Lawyer?
Due to the complicated nature of these kinds of incidents and the involvement of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in the resolution of these disputes, some people are able to take care of their settlement without legal advice. This can be a risky move if you have a large dollar amount that you are trying to recoup, however. You should be careful about assuming that you can get back more than a few thousand dollars without expert legal support for your needs.
Many people will find that it is difficult to prove through the settlement process that the items that went onto the moving van were in perfect condition. Moving companies also have contractual language in the contract that people sign that states that there can be damages to the property during the moving process. There might be unique limitations that are placed on those who hire this company to go after losses over a certain dollar amount.
When the contract works against you as the victim of the damage, you will want to have a lawyer on your side to help defend your case. No matter what the signed contract says, you should not be prevented from getting the money that you are owed for damages that were incurred during your move. This is harder to accomplish on your own and this is the reason that many lawyers work on these kinds of moving compensation cases after problems have arisen with the moving process.
What Can a Skilled Florida Lawyer Do to Help Me With My Moving Dispute?
If you have had a large number of your possessions damaged during a move to a new home, you will want to work with a skilled lawyer. Your lawyer will be able to go over the contract language that you agreed to when you contracted with the mover who is at fault for the damage. They will also look at all of the documentation that you have and the pictures that you have taken of the damages that happened.
Your lawyer will look at the information that has been provided by the moving company and their legal representation as well. If there is room to defend your side of the story and get more money than the settlement offer is currently set to distribute, your lawyer will work hard to make that happen.
In cases where the moving company is in breach of contract or has completely neglected their duty during your move, your lawyer will move to take your case to court to help you to get the money that you are owed for the damages that your items suffered.
In the case of lost or even stolen items that were in the possession of the moving company when they were lost or stolen, your lawyer will make sure that the full value of the lost or stolen items is accounted for.
The same goes for damages to your property and the home that you are moving into if there were damages that were incurred by the moving company as your possessions were delivered. These kinds of damages can really add up and you will find that you will need the help of a lawyer to account for this kind of damage and successfully prove that the movers were the cause of the damage.
Your lawyer will gather expert testimony if it is needed and gather witness testimony as well. There might have been neighbors or other parties who saw the moving company dropping, throwing, or otherwise mishandling items that were subsequently damaged. Your lawyer will also be familiar with Florida law and make sure that your compensation demands are for the allowed amount under state law.
Is There a Way to Provide Additional Protection for My Items Before my Move?
For items that have a lot of value such as works of art or expensive furniture pieces that cannot be easily replaced, you can take out insurance on these unique items. You can get a personal articles policy for many of these kinds of items that will protect them in the case that they are lost or damaged beyond repair. This might still not satisfy the contractual obligation that your moving company violated by damaging the items, but you will be able to get back the money that you need to replace the item.
Personal article policies and extensions of your own insurance can sometimes help to soften the blow of damages that might have been incurred by the moving company at the time of the move. You will still need to deal with the moving company to hold them accountable for their careless handling of your items, but you will at least have the money that you need to get a replacement item for your needs.
Make sure that you document all of the items that you are sending with the moving company to show their original condition and make sure that you box up items yourself carefully. Consider all boxes of your possessions as possibly being at risk for damage and take the time to prevent damage as much as possible. In fairness to the movers, if you have packed a box full of breakables and have not secured the items correctly, they cannot be held accountable for the damages that moving might cause them.
Many moving companies will box up your items for you to move and you will want to be sure that you are checking on the way in which fragile items are packed. This might not be possible, but if you are able to make sure that your fragile items are packed correctly before your move, you will likely have a better moving experience overall.
Can I Evaluate Moving Companies Before My Move?
You should always make sure that you talk to more than one company before you hire someone for your move. You will also want to be sure that you read reviews and look at the contract that you are offered as well. There can be fine print that you do not agree with in the contract or you might find that there is a better company to work with for large furniture items or fragile items.
Making sure that you do some research into the companies that you are planning to work with for your move can make all the difference for your needs. You will find that companies that sound good on paper might have bad reviews and these reviews might mention damaged items and the need to file claims for lost or broken possessions.
Avoiding these kinds of experiences is always your best bet and you will want to be sure that you do not just trust each moving company on their word that you will get a great moving experience when you work with them. Protecting yourself is essential when you hire any kind of company to do any kind of work for you but you should not assume that you can prevent all kinds of unforeseen accidents.
When issues arise during your move, you do have recourse to seek damages for the loss that you have suffered. You will want to be sure that you do not balk at hiring a lawyer if you really need one to defend your case. There is nothing worse than waiting too long to ask for help with this kind of situation and finding that you can no longer seek compensation for your losses.
Florida Moving Company Disputes
In Florida, you will find that there are many moving companies to choose from. These companies will offer hourly rates as well as estimates for longer trips. Insurance coverage is required to be part of their business model and they should have insurance for items of their own during every move.
There may be local ordinances in some counties that change what the moving company is required to offer to its clients. You will want to check on the ordinances for your county before you sign any kind of contract with a moving company. Make sure that you always get a signed copy of your contract.
When or if something happens during your move in Florida, you can look at all of the information related to your contract, the insurance that is on file with the moving company, and the ordinances and laws for the state or the county that your move is governed by. If the moving company was to blame for damages that were incurred during your move, you will want to make sure that you start the claims process right away.
Once you have a claim open, you will want to begin the dispute process. Make sure to secure a lawyer if the damages are significant or if your items were lost or stolen. Your lawyer will help you to navigate the claims process as well as the dispute process. You will be glad that you took the time to get legal counsel when you realize how many steps are needed to prepare a settlement and compensation demand or to take your case before a judge.
You can also file a complaint against the moving company with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services if you believe that they should no longer be in business or if their policies need to be addressed. You can also file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office. The last entity that you can file a complaint with is the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Your lawyer will be able to help you to determine which complaints should be filed. Moving companies that are not able to fulfill their contracts with their clients should not be allowed to stay in business.
You will be doing a service to all of the other consumers who might be harmed by the same moving company if no one makes a complaint. Exercising your rights to file this kind of complaint can make the difference between a company staying in business that is negligent or that same company being shut down for good.
The Moving Company Damaged My Stuff. Can I File a Lawsuit Against Them?
If a moving company lost or damaged items during a move, you may be able to file a claim against them for any damages you have suffered. The first step in the process is typically to try to resolve issues directly with the moving company. In many cases, if you have documentation of the damage, the moving company will directly reimburse you.
However, moving companies may not always agree to pay for lost or damaged items. In this situation, a moving company dispute lawyer in Florida can help you determine your legal options. In St. Petersburg and the surrounding areas, reach out to the Lopez Law Group for a case evaluation.
What Can I Do If a Moving Company Is Holding My Items Hostage?
Moving companies are bound by the terms of the contract that you signed. They can only collect the amount of the estimate (or revised estimate), plus additional services as specified in the contract. If a moving company refuses to release your goods until after you pay them more money – beyond what is listed in the contract – then you may need the assistance of a Florida moving company dispute attorney.
A lawyer can help you determine the next steps in the process, which may include reporting the company to the U.S. Department of Transportation. They can also advise you on suing a moving company in Florida in order to get your stuff back without paying the additional fees. Contact the Lopez Law Group to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team.
What Is The Best Way to Protect Myself from Moving Fraud and Moving Company Disputes?
There are several things that you can do to protect yourself, starting with doing some basic homework. Make sure that your moving company is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and learn about your rights and responsibilities as a consumer. You should also carefully read all documentation from the movers, including the estimate, order for service, bill of lading, and inventory list. Never sign any blank documents.
If you can, make sure to supervise the process and take pictures of your household items. Documentation is one of the best ways to win a lawsuit against a moving company because you will be able to prove that you had certain items moved and/or that they are damaged or lost. If you have any questions about your rights and options, contact the Lopez Law Group to talk to a moving company dispute attorney in Florida.
Our managing attorney, Sean Lopez, was recently asked to weigh in on the unfortunate case involving a Florida woman who nearly lost everything due to a moving company dispute. You can read this Port Orange grandmother’s moving company nightmare here.
Do I Need to Sue My Moving Company If I Have Homeowner’s Insurance?
A homeowner’s insurance policy might cover some losses associated with moving companies damaging or losing items. However, because the moving company may also be responsible for damages, your insurance company may balk at paying – or may offer you a lowball settlement that won’t even begin to cover your losses.
In this situation, a moving company dispute lawyer can advocate for you with both your insurer and the moving company. They will negotiate a settlement with your insurance company, and if necessary, fight for compensation from the moving company. For more information on suing a moving company in Florida, call the Lopez Law Group for a consultation.
Work With a Skilled Moving Company Disputes Lawyer in Florida
If you have suffered damages and losses at the hands of a moving company in Florida, we can help. You will get the right skilled representation for all the stages of your case when you work with us and our team will take care to gather all of the details that are needed to make sure you get the compensation that you deserve. Working with an experienced lawyer can make all the difference in the success of your moving dispute process, from beginning to end.
While it is possible to try to secure compensation for your losses on your own, having a skilled lawyer on your side will make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Getting access to the skills that are needed to collect testimony, gather evidence, and present a thorough case can be invaluable, particularly if you have lost a lot of expensive items during your move.
Contact us today to get help with your moving company dispute. We will be happy to provide a case evaluation and get started toward helping you to get the compensation that you deserve for your losses.
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