Claimants Assume No Out-Of-Pocket Risk, Firm to Work on a Contingency Fee Arrangement
New York, NY, April 30, 2015 — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that it will soon reopen more than 144,000 flood insurance claims related to property damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. FEMA is reopening these cases after numerous reports of bad practices and allegations of fraud in the claims handling process.
“FEMA is doing the right thing by reopening these claims, and it’s our goal to help homeowners navigate the process so they receive the fairest and best possible remedies,” said August Matteis, Chairman of Weisbrod Matteis & Copley PLLC. “We are prepared to vet each and every claim brought to us, and we have a team of lawyers and adjusters who will quickly review and professionally assemble each case. We understand that it may be difficult for people to find every receipt and every document three years after the fact, but we can help build and present the most compelling case possible.”
FEMA recently acknowledged that certain insurance companies and their engineering firms improperly altered reports that were used to adjust the flood insurance claims of homeowners impacted by Hurricane Sandy. While flood policies have maximum limits of $250,000 for home repair and $100,000 for contents (much higher for businesses), the average FEMA settlement related to Sandy was just $61,000. As a result, many homeowners and business owners were unable to rebuild or repair their properties. By reopening these cases, the Agency is providing policyholders the right to prove that they deserved more.
While it is standard for law firms, including Weisbrod Matteis & Copley, to charge contingency fees of 33 percent or more on cases of this type, Matteis is committed to charging a contingency fee of just 28 percent on any reopened Sandy claim that his firm handles. The firm will cover all expenses related to hiring a neutral adjuster, gathering existing reports, and updating and re-submitting claims to FEMA. If FEMA fails to agree to a satisfactory payment, Weisbrod Matteis & Copley will bring the case to Court and litigate through trial.
“These cases are now nearly three years old and we realize that people are tired and leery of the process,” said Matteis.
“It wasn’t the homeowners who committed fraud and engaged in bad practices the first time around, so it’s not fair to force homeowners to pull money out of their pockets now just to prove that they were entitled to a larger payment. It’s our goal to even the playing field. Let’s see what happens when it’s a fair fight.”
Weisbrod, Matteis & Copley is recognized as a leader in litigating cases involving flood insurance as it relates to national disasters. The firm has recently been hired by the Attorney General of the State of Mississippi to handle that state’s lawsuit connected to State Farm Insurance’s mishandling of post-Hurricane Katrina claims. Weisbrod Matteis & Copley was recently recognized as one of the ten hottest litigation boutiques in the country, and it is the only firm in U.S. history to prove to a jury that an insurance company committed fraud in adjusting flood claims for FEMA.
FEMA likely will require homeowners impacted by Sandy-related flooding to “opt in” if they’d like their claims reopened. FEMA-hired desk auditors will then review the claims. A potential risk to homeowners is that these FEMA-hired desk auditors will do little more than take another superficial look at the existing files, many of which are incomplete and likely understateextent of damage. Matteis believes homeowners will receive much better results by presenting new damage reports created by adjusters who are truly neutral and not working for FEMA.
“FEMA is setting itself up as the adjudicator – the judge and jury – in this process. The same agency that was supposed to be overseeing insurers and protecting homeowners and business owners from fraud and abuse the first time around is now promising that they will make things right. We hope FEMA keeps its promise, but by now people should not make the mistake of believing that FEMA will be their protector and advocate. We want to be that advocate; we want to help homeowners get throughthis process,” said Matteis.
Thousands of homeowners are expected to opt in and have their claims reopened, and Weisbrod, Matteis & Copley is eager to discuss each claimant’s individual case. The firm has set up a hotline at 1-844-336-2729 and also created an informative website at www.femapay.com
About Weisbrod Matteis & Copley
Weisbrod Matteis & Copley PLLC is a Washington, D.C. law firm that represents corporate and individual plaintiffs in a variety of areas, including business and financial disputes, disputes with insurers, intellectual property claims and theft of trade secrets, public interest litigation, and whistleblower claims against insurers and government contractors. The Firm’s clients include Fortune 500 companies, prominent financial institutions, entrepreneurs, inventors, whistleblowers and other individuals. To learn more about the firm, visit www.wmclaw.com.