If you have recently moved to the Tampa Bay area, you might have had trouble with your moving company damaging your items while they were en route to Florida. This can be common when a move is made from a long distance away or when you have engaged a company to bring your items on a shared truck. It might seem like there is nothing that you can do about your situation once your items have been damaged, but that is not actually the case.
If you have had your items damaged during a move, you might believe that your mover’s insurance or your home insurance will cover the loss. This can be the case, and for small damages, this might take care of your needs. The circumstances of these kinds of cases are rarely easy to investigate, however, and most of the claims that you would seek to make are going to before large dollar amounts or rare items that have been damaged in your move.
There are some kinds of insurance policies, such as personal articles policies, that will protect your valuables that are insured with them from this kind of loss, but most people do not have this kind of insurance protecting every rare or unique item in their possession. This can lead to major issues when you make a moving damage claim, especially if the item has not been assessed for value.
If you have had a loss related to moving damage, here is why you need to hire an attorney to help you get compensation for your loss.
What is a Moving Damage Claim?
A moving damage claim is opened when an item that your moving company was transporting, packing, or carrying for you was damaged in some way. You will initiate the claim with your mover’s insurance and they will request photos of the item and images of the damage to be able to determine fault and potential compensation for the damage.
This kind of claim is often a “he said, she said” kind of situation, and without being able to demonstrate clearly that the mover caused the damage, it can be hard to prove that you are due compensation for it.
Why Should I Hire a Florida Attorney for My Moving Damage Claim?
1. A Moving Damage Claim Can be Hard to Prove
This is not the kind of insurance claim that comes complete with easy proof like most car accidents. It can be very hard to prove that the movers broke or damaged your item, and most mover’s insurance will have a tendency to consider some forms of damage as normal during a move.
Having an attorney on your side will help you to prove the circumstances of the damage and your attorney can help argue against the dismissive nature of most insurance companies toward these kinds of claims.
2. Filing a Claim for Breaches of Your Mover’s Contract
If your moving company agreed per the contract to handle your items in a specific way or to deliver them in a certain manner and they did not do this, you need an attorney to help you to seek compensation for the damages that resulted.
Breaches of contract can be very hard to fight on your own, but with an experienced lawyer on your side, you can get the compensation that you deserve for the damages that were caused by this negligence on the part of the moving company.
3. Homeowner’s Insurance Refusing to Pay
Some kinds of moving-related damage are actually the responsibility of a homeowner’s policy. Many insurance companies will attempt not to become involved in these kinds of claims, wanting to push the responsibility off on the moving insurance that you probably have in place. Insurance companies sometimes also offer ridiculously low settlement amounts as well.
Your attorney can help you to get the right settlement amount from your homeowner’s insurance and they can work with both insurance entities to figure out who is responsible for which parts of the damage payout.
4. Refusal to Deliver to Your Property
In situations like this, compelling the moving company to do the right thing and deliver to your location is almost impossible without the help of a skilled lawyer. You will need someone to handle all of the details that are necessary to compel the moving company to deliver your items to your property.
These instances of conflict with moving companies are often related to the moving company agreeing upon one price for the job and then demanding more money on the day of the job to complete it. This is clearly a breach of contract as well as a variety of laws, and you will want an attorney to help you to fight this and get your items delivered to your home.
5. Mover Was Not Properly Insured for Loss in Transit
Moving companies are required to insure their trucks and vehicles that move items for all the potential kinds of losses that can occur on the road. This might be car insurance which covers property damage but there should also be mover’s insurance in place for the company to compensate customers for damages related to a car accident that happens during transit.
If your moving company was not insured for these kinds of damages, you should have an attorney work with you to get the value of your items returned to you and to help you to be able to replace those items that you have lost as a result of the accident.
What Are Some Other Ways to Deal With a Moving Damage Claim?
The first step in the process of dealing with damages that have happened to your items while they are in the hands of a moving company is to open a claim with your moving insurance and with the insurance company that the moving company uses to protect their jobs. This step must always be done before any other kind of action can be taken. Almost every moving company’s contract will say that a claim must be filed to seek help with damages before other action can be taken against the company. Another less common avenue is filing a claim with your homeowners insurance. Often you may be unaware that your policy may cover some of your damages.
In most cases, opening a claim will give you the chance to secure the money that is needed to replace the items that have been damaged or lost during the move. However, if you have specific items that were very valuable that have been lost or broken, this might not be enough coverage to replace them. It is always wise to make sure that any valuables that are traveling with a moving company have a separate insurance policy covering them during the trip. If you did not know to put this kind of policy in place for the move, you might want to secure a lawyer to help you to get the right claim award to cover this loss. This is one of the areas where having a lawyer can be a big help because they can go to bat for you with the insurance company if you are not being offered enough money to replace your lost items.
If you have filed a claim and have not been able to recover the amount of money that you are owed to replace your lost items, then it is time to consider a lawsuit against the company. Your lawyer will prepare the lawsuit and detail the lost items that need to be replaced/ accounted for, and any other damages that have happened during the moving process. If the moving company damaged your home or property while they were moving in your items, you might also want your lawyer to include these damages in the suit.
The lawsuit will be taken through the right channels with the help of your lawyer. You might need to get the right information for the company from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to pursue this case. Moving companies are not regulated by state laws or local government, which can pose a challenge for these kinds of lawsuits. However, they can be taken to settlement talks quite readily, which is usually the best way to resolve your needs related to your losses.
Your lawsuit might also include issues related to incorrect delivery dates and locations, problems with breach of contract, and more. Your lawyer can help you to navigate the federal laws that are used to hold these companies accountable and make sure that all the right complaints are included in your lawsuit.
What is the Carmack Amendment?
This amendment was added to the Interstate Commerce Act of 1877 and it regulates the relationship between shipping companies and those who own goods that they are moving from place to place. This amendment is intended to limit the liabilities of shipping companies or carriers to the loss or damage of property itself.
With this amendment in place, you will be unlikely to be able to seek damages like emotional damage during your lawsuit process. The shipping company is protected from these kinds of claims because they really are just tasked with moving goods from place to place. If there has been damage to these goods, the law will allow you to seek legal recompense against the company for actual damages to your possessions that they have taken across state lines.
This amendment actually does not require the shipper to have to provide proof of negligence and only requires that they acknowledge that the goods were damaged. This law also then requires that the shipper become liable for these damages, no matter how the damage was caused. This can lead to some issues with carriers who are not willing to acknowledge that there have been damages done to items that they were moving.
There is some gray area within this law because it has been modified many times since it was first added to the original act from 1877. While there are areas that are not as clearly laid out within the law itself, you will still find that most shipping companies cannot be held to task for your emotional damages or other kinds of damages that are not related to the items that were lost or harmed during transport. Your lawyer will be able to help you to understand what can be sought with a lawsuit and which kinds of damages are not going to be considered related to this kind of lawsuit.
How Can I Protect Myself From Losses Related to Moving?
If you are worried about how you can protect yourself from being out the money to replace items that were damaged during your move using a shipping company, you need to take these precautions. You will have much more luck with the legal process related to damages to your items if you have prepared for the possibility that this could occur.
- Take pictures of your items before they are placed on the trailer or van. Make sure that you take good pictures that show all the details of the items for comparison if they are damaged when the shipping company drops them off. This will also help greatly if your items are lost or stolen along the way. Items that are recorded in pictures can be much more clearly assessed for value if they are missing when the truck arrives at your new home.
- Read through the contract carefully. You will want to look at the policies that the company uses for losses like this and you should avoid agreeing to work with a company that will not protect your items appropriately. This is one of the places where moving companies can often wiggle out of paying for lost or damaged items because people sign contracts assuming that the contract they are offered will be fair. Make sure that you are aware of the policies that your moving company has in place for losses or damage so that you are not required to accept their lack of response to your claim.
- Do not sign the Bill of Lading if your items are damaged. The Bill of Lading is the legal document that says that you accept the goods that were brought to your location and that you certify that they were in good condition when they arrived. If the items that were delivered to you have been damaged, or are missing, you should never sign the Bill of Lading. When you refuse to sign the Bill of Lading, you open up the door for a lawsuit or other kinds of compensation demand that can be handled by a lawyer. When you sign the Bill of Lading, you are legally signing off on the condition of your items as delivered.
Knowing how to handle the process of seeking compensation for damages can help greatly in your moving claim, but you also need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. When you collect evidence in photos before the move takes place and you understand your rights related to signing off on the delivery of damaged items, you will be much more likely to have a good outcome for your lawsuit. Your lawyer can use your photos and your refusal to sign the Bill of Lading to help make sure that your case is handled in a way that is favorable for your side of the story.
When there is no documentation or when you sign the Bill of Lading, you will find that it is very hard to seek compensation beyond a normal claims payout. Your lawyer can still try and help you to get more compensation for the lost items or damages that were done, but you will likely not be able to sue the carrier for any further amount of money that you feel is owed to you.
While it might feel paranoid to prepare for the worst, sometimes things that you wish could have been avoided do happen during a move. Preparing for the worst possible outcome will be of big assistance if you need to secure a lawyer to help you in your lawsuit against the moving company.
Should I Have the Moving Contract Reviewed by a Lawyer Beforehand?
It can be tempting to take your moving company’s proposed contract to a legal expert before you sign it. There is a lot of information on a moving contract that might feel bewildering to you as the person signing on the dotted line. This is something that you could choose to do, however, there are costs associated with having a lawyer review a document in most cases. You will need to weigh out the costs for this review against the likelihood that you will have to secure assistance for damages that have occurred along the way.
If you feel confident looking into the clauses that discuss what happens when items are damaged or lost, you will probably not require legal assistance unless you do have to file a claim. One of the best ways to make sure that you do not feel the need for a lawyer to look over the contract carefully before you sign it is to be certain that you are working with a skilled and honest company. Make sure that you look at the reviews of the company and that you work with a company that was recommended to you by a friend or family member if possible.
There are many moving companies out there and it can be intimidating to sign up to have your possessions moved for you. However, if you do some research and prepare for the trip by taking pictures of your items and checking over the Bill of Lading before you agree to send your items with the company, you should be covered if something unfortunate should happen. Most moving companies are eager to make things right when there has been a problem with a moving contract, but if you do meet resistance, a lawyer will help you to handle the issues that have cropped up. The more photo evidence that you have on hand, the easier your lawyer’s job will be.
How Do You Get Your Money Back From a Moving Company?
This might not be the best course of action for your needs after a moving company has damaged your items, but this can be one of the ways that you get the money that is needed to replace your items. You will need to secure a lawyer as the first step in the process of seeking a refund for your move. Moving companies have insurance that covers the damage that can happen to items they are transporting, so you will not be likely to get back the cost of the moving contract unless there is very significant damage to your items, or your items have all been lost or stolen.
When you need to get your money back from a moving company, you will need to document all the damages with pictures and make sure that you have witness contact information as well if there are any other people who can vouch for what you experienced. This is not a common route to choose when you want to get your money back related to a move that did not go to plan, so documentation is essential to be able to prove that this is the right course of action for the moving company to take.
Without photos of the damages or without proof from the moving company that they acknowledge that your items have been lost or stolen, it can be hard to pursue this process. This is one of the reasons that having a lawyer working hard on your side is so essential to getting a refund as well as the support that is needed to replace your lost or damaged possessions. You will be very unlikely to get a refund of your trip from a moving company without a lawyer on your side, so you will want to make sure that this is one of the first steps that you take if this is your goal. Your lawyer will be able to help you to take the right steps to meet this goal or seek compensation for your losses through other channels.
Hiring a Lawyer to Sue Your Florida Moving Company for Loss or Damage is Sometimes Necessary
If you have lost a large number of items to a moving accident, or your items have been severely damaged, or your mover is in breach of their contract with you, you should engage a lawyer to help represent your case immediately.
We will help you to get the compensation that you deserve for your lost items as well as potential time lost from work due to trying to get your property delivered to your home or sorting out claim details related to the accident. We take pride in caring for our clients who have been harmed by a moving company’s negligence, and we can secure a positive outcome for all of our customers through our attention to detail and skill.
Contact us today for help with your case against your moving company. We will help you get the compensation that you deserve and we will support you through every step of the case against your moving company.