When Florida Attacks: What to Do When a Sinkhole Damages Your Property

Coastal plains, sandy beaches, rolling hills — Florida’s beautiful geography is part of its allure. Unfortunately, though, its karst landforms and soluble rocks also make the geography dangerously susceptible to sinkholes. Each year, Florida residents make more than 6,500 sinkhole-related insurance claims. 

If a sinkhole occurs on your property, it can be shocking. You should take the following steps to ensure your safety and preserve your insurance claim.

  1. Make sure everyone is accounted for. Safety first! Make sure everyone is okay and accounted for. Make sure your children know not to approach the sinkhole. It seems obvious to us as adults, but children are curious and may try to investigate. You should also keep pets away from the sinkhole. 
  2. Check your house for damage and evacuate if necessary. If the sinkhole is below, or even just near your home, there may likely be structural damage that makes your home unsafe to inhabit. Are your walls sagging? Is there a new crack on the wall in the hall? Door doesn’t seem to fit in its jamb, won’t close? Cracks in the floor? These are all signs that the sinkhole has affected the structural integrity of your home. You and your family will need to evacuate until it can be inspected and repaired. Your local Emergency Management Office may be able to help you.
  3. Block off the sinkhole. Use fencing or rope to block off the area where the sinkhole is located. Mark it with reflective tape so that no one will fall into it at night. It may be helpful, if the sinkhole is small enough, to cover it in plywood. Do not get too close to the edge of the sinkhole because they can grow rapidly.
  4. Document the sinkhole and any resulting damage by taking photos. Take photos from as many angles as possible for your records. It will help to have close up photos as well as wider shot photos to show the context of the scene.
  5. Contact your insurance company. Let your insurance company know what is happening as quickly as you can. 
  6. Lookout for growth and additional damage. As sinkholes grow larger, they can cause even more damage. Watch out for this and make sure to report any added damage to your insurance company.
  7. Contact an attorney. The Barnard Law Offices, L.P. will save you time and energy by handling your claim. We have extensive experience with Florida property damage issues, including sinkholes. We offer new clients a free consultation. Give us a call at (305) 665-0000.
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Barnard Law Offices

The Barnard Law Offices, L.P. has been protecting the rights of Floridians for four generations. Together our attorneys bring years of insurance claim advocacy and trial experience to the table. We don’t believe in half-hearted measures when it comes to proving your claim: after inspecting the damage to your property, our office will engage or connect you with high-quality third-party professionals to assist you with your claim and assess your property damage. Our talented team is dedicated to serving each client’s needs with a passion and commitment that makes us stand out among our peers.
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