Having your home or property destroyed in a wildfire, tornado, hurricane, or any natural disaster for that matter can leave you vulnerable and mentally distressed. Per CNBC, there were reported 20 disasters that killed 688 people and cost $145 billion in 2021, with $75 billion of that coming from Hurricane Ida alone. During these difficult times, you need to know that you are taken care of, so The Cochran Firm has a team of dedicated lawyers ready to handle your natural disaster claim today.

What is A Natural Disaster?

A natural disaster can come in many shapes and forms, such as Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Blizzards, and even Wildfires. A natural disaster can occur without warning and can cause a significant threat to human health and safety, property, critical infrastructure, and homeland security. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does my insurance cover the damage after a natural disaster?

A: A standard homeowners insurance will not. You will need to add supplemental insurance such as flood insurance.

Q:  Can you sue for an act of nature?

A: Yes. However, keep in mind there might be a situation where a person might be at fault rather than an act of nature. For example, someone not tying their boat off properly before a storm, and it smashed into other boats in the dock. The insurance company might not see this as an act of nature because the boat owner's negligence was the main contributor to the damage that occurred. 

Q: What is the difference between a natural disaster and an industrial disaster? 

A: Natural disasters are disasters caused by natural forces, whereas industrial disasters are caused by activities of human beings. However, disasters such as hurricanes can cause industrial disasters such as oil rig failures and oil refineries leaking. 

Q: Do I need a lawyer after a natural disaster? 

A: Yes, in the aftermath of many natural disasters, lawyers can be an essential resource, helping victims access housing, insurance relief, and disaster assistance quickly. Lawyers can also assist you in informing you of your human rights in the wake of a disaster. 

Human Rights with Natural Disasters

Natural disasters can have devastating effects not only on your property but also on your human rights. Following Hurricane Katrina, African Americans and other communities of color were denied fundamental human rights such as proper shelter, medical treatment, food, and clean water, even though it clearly states in The Stafford Act Sec. 308 that provisions for ensuring that supply distribution, application processing, and other relief and assistance activities be carried out in a fair and impartial manner, without discrimination based on race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, English proficiency, or financial state

If you are a loved one who has experienced your human rights being taken advantage of, please contact The Cochran Firm today at 1-800-THE-FIRM for your no-obligation free consultation. Our attorneys are in the courtroom every day fighting for the rights of individuals like you. To see the latest from our attorneys in their pursuit for equal justice, see our results.

The Stafford Act

The Stafford Act illustrates actions Federal agencies are likely to take to assist State, tribal, and local governments affected by a major disaster or emergency and gives the president the power to declare a national emergency as a response to a national disaster. 

This declaration allows the president to access funds and disaster relief assistance set aside by Congress. When the president issues an emergency declaration, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will automatically get the power to coordinate relief resources to assist overwhelmed state and local governments. Under a national emergency, FEMA's powers are usually connected with natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. However, FEMA has also been mobilized to address pandemics like COVID-19. 

Most Common Types of Natural Disasters


Wildfires are a common threat and occur in 38 U.S. states. Wildfires can start with a natural occurrence such as a lightning strike or a human-made spark and are uncontrolled fires that burn in forests, grasslands, savannas, and other ecosystems and have been doing so for hundreds of millions of years.


Hurricanes are massive, swirling storms that originate over warm ocean waters and with winds of 74 miles per hour or more. Hurricane winds can cause damage to structures and plants.
When a hurricane hits land, it brings a wall of ocean water with it called storm surge. A storm surge is a wall of water that can cause severe flooding and property damage. In the United States, hurricane season lasts from June 1st to November 30th.


An earthquake occurs when two blocks of Earth abruptly move past one another. Earthquakes are among the most lethal natural disasters. Each year, approximately 100 earthquakes of significant magnitude occur. They strike without warning, and many of the Earth's earthquake zones are located in densely populated places. When big earthquakes strike such locations, the consequences can be disastrous, with horrible human losses and huge economic expenses.


A tornado is a narrow, violently rotating column of air that extends from the ground to a thunderstorm. Tornadoes are difficult to notice since wind is invisible unless they build a condensation funnel of water droplets, dust, and debris. Tornadoes are among the most violent of the atmospheric storms we encounter. 

Property Damage Claims

Property damage refers to any physical harm to tangible property. The damage can be caused by another person's negligence, purposeful destruction, or a natural disaster. While insurance is typically used to cover losses, reimbursement may be required directly from the offending party, such as when the expenses of damage exceed the policy limitations. The amount of compensation payable is normally decided by the property's worth and/or the cost of replacing or repairing the damage, as well as any costs spent until the property can be replaced or repaired. In the case of heirlooms or sentimental goods, determining compensation becomes more subjective because these items may be irreplaceable.

What To Expect In A Property Damage Claim

Dealing with storm-related property damage may be a tiring, frustrating, and costly process. One of the most difficult decisions to make before you can begin to repair the damage is how you will pay for it. Understanding who is to blame for the damage can help you in receiving funding to offset the costs. If there is any doubt or ambiguity about who or what caused the damage or personal injury, it is essential to consult with an expert attorney.

Compensatory claims are meant to pay the costs of repairing or replacing damaged property. Consequential damage claims cover any expenditures incurred because the damaged property was made unusable, such as a store having to close temporarily after a truck crashed through it. Punitive damage claims emerge not because of actual property harm but as punishment for the offender and to dissuade others from acting so. Punitive damages can only be awarded after compensatory damages have been awarded, and they are normally limited to 10 times the amount awarded for compensatory damages. Finally, incidental damage claims seek to reimburse expenses incurred as a result of property loss or damage.

In the event of property damage, you will want an attorney with the skills and resources to help you recover your losses, whether from the individual who caused the damage, their insurance company, or your own. Contact The Cochran Firm today if your property has been damaged.

Who is Responsible for Injuries Incurred During a Storm?

It's one thing to have your property damaged by a storm or hurricane; it's another to get harmed during the event. A prominent example is falling trees or limbs, which can be exceedingly harmful, if not lethal.

Many of the same laws that apply to property damage apply in these circumstances. The first thing you should do is examine your personal insurance coverage to see what charges it will cover. Depending on the circumstances, it may be feasible to file a personal injury lawsuit.

If the damage was caused by someone else's negligence, such as a rotting tree in someone's yard they have neglected over time, you might be able to claim compensation for your injuries against that party. However, keep in mind that this may be a daunting task, so having an experienced personal injury attorney to work alongside you will be very beneficial to help you navigate where you stand on who to file a lawsuit against. 

Insurance Claims and Disaster Fraud

Most insurance companies have procedures and time limits that you must follow in order to file a claim after a disaster. We have listed steps for you to successfully file a claim.

  1. You must make contact with your local insurance company, either online or in person. Following a tragedy, larger insurance companies typically set up mobile claims centers.
  2. Make a list of all the items that have been damaged or destroyed. If you don't have an inventory, you'll have to build a mental list. Make a list of all the rooms in your house. 
  3. An adjuster from your insurance company will be dispatched to assess the damage. Always double-check his or her identification. Remember that in the aftermath of natural disasters, scammers act as representatives of government institutions, humanitarian organizations, and insurance companies.
  4. The insurance company will issue a settlement based on your claim and the adjuster's survey. DO NOT sign the settlement if you disagree with any of its provisions. For example, they may refuse to cover products that you believe should be covered, or the amount they give to cover the items may be less than you expected or believe is reasonable.
  5. Even after you've settled your claim, if you come across anything that wasn't on your initial loss list, contact your insurance carrier. Unless the firm has paid the entire maximum for that sort of coverage, it is probable that the company will make an additional payment.

Underpaying Claims

Most insurance firms are just interested in one thing: money. Insurance firms utilize a variety of techniques to underpay claims or even refuse them entirely in order to maximize profits. Among these strategies are:

  • Claiming that a client's policy does not cover the type of damage
  • Using incorrect markdowns to determine an asset's value
  • Using faulty, out-of-date price lists when construction costs have risen
  • Failure to appropriately value the cost of repairs/replacements, particularly when it comes to objects
  • Standing in the way of a claim's processing in the belief that a policyholder will get desperate and accept a lower payout.

Insurance companies have even found that by undervaluing insurance holders’ cases, they can save millions of dollars.

Example of A Insurance Company Underpaying A Claim

Hurricane Sandy

Following Hurricane Sandy, several insurance policyholders were denied insurance policy coverage for storm-related flooding. According to fabricated claims, the house's damage "existed prior to the storm" or could have been caused by "natural planet activity." Following the hurricane, insurance specialists discovered that insurance companies often rejected credible insurance policy cases while grossly underpaying what they should have.

The truth is that many insurance firms will do whatever it takes to make a profit, even if it means taking advantage of one of their customers. Fortunately, The Cochran Firm's skilled attorneys are ready to assist you in fighting for fair compensation for the damages you have sustained as a result of a natural disaster.

Disaster Fraud

It's difficult enough dealing with the aftermath of a crisis without having to worry about your contractor. While many of these people are trustworthy, others are not. Dishonest people may take your payment or insurance settlement without finishing the service. Furthermore, they may use subpar materials and execute work that is not up to code.

Per the National Insurance Crime Bureau, there are ways to help avoid disaster fraud. We have listed those steps below for you.

  • Be suspicious of any contractor who tries to rush you. 
  • Never pay for work upfront. Always inspect the work and make sure you’re satisfied before you pay. 
  • Get three written estimates for the work and compare bids. Check credentials with the Better Business Bureau or state attorney general’s office to see if the firm has any outstanding complaints.
  • Always have a written, detailed contract that clearly states everything the contractor will do, including prices for labor and materials, clean-up procedures, and estimated start and finish dates. 
  • Don’t believe a contractor who says they are supported by the government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not endorse individual contractors or loan companies.
  • Avoid paying with cash; use a check or credit card instead. This creates a record of your payments to the contractor. 

Our lawyers at The Cochran Firm have vast expertise fighting claim denials, establishing policies to manage any potential future claims, and ensuring the client's rights are always maintained. Insurance disputes and claims can be difficult and time-consuming, so it is critical to engage with a reputable and experienced attorney who can provide the necessary resources and knowledge for your case.

For a free, no-obligation consultation, call 1-800-The-Firm or contact us today at The Cochran Firm to seek the help you deserve with your insurance dispute or claim.

Will My Homeowners Insurance Cover A Natural Disaster? 

Homeowners insurance is a type of property insurance that covers losses and damages to a person's home, as well as furniture and other items in the home. Homeowner's insurance also includes liability coverage for accidents that occur in the home or on the property.

When a natural disaster strikes, insurance firms have a responsibility to ensure that their policyholders are paid in a timely and viable manner. Policyholders pay their payments on time in order to acquire insurance coverage during such tragic times.

Despite the fact that your homeowner's insurance coverage covers numerous natural disasters and meteorological phenomena such as wind, hail, lightning strikes, and wildfires, it does not, unfortunately, cover damage caused by floods or earthquakes. Each of these risks would require unique coverage. Many homeowners may be unaware of this until it is too late. You truly need three types of policies to obtain full coverage for natural disasters: house, flood, and earthquake.

Environmental Exposure After A Disaster

Hurricane Katrina and Rita 2005

In 2005, hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed at least 113 oil platforms and severely damaged at least 53 others. The storms also destroyed five drilling rigs and severely damaged 19 mobile offshore drilling units (MODUs). 

As of May 1, 2006, the total number of pipes destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was 457. Pipeline damage was largely caused by the host platform's or its development and production piping's damage or failure, the influence of dragging and displaced objects, and pipeline interaction at a crossing. The NRC database had 611 reports of hazardous material discharges, including crude oil and condensate, as well as natural gas.

Not only did these two hurricanes cause environmental devastation in the Gulf of Mexico due to the oil rigs. But Hurricane Katrina alone caused direct damage on land due to the wind, storm surge, and the failure of the levees leaving the residents of New Orleans in a toxic gumbo due to the sewage systems breaking down, causing contaminants to be distributed all over the city. 

If you or a loved one have been exposed to environmental hazards due to a natural disaster and are seeking an experienced natural disaster lawyer to help you pursue justice and obtain compensation for your losses, please contact our attorneys at The Cochran Firm today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation.

How Do I Submit A Natural Disaster Claim? 

Dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane, tornado, fire, or other natural disasters can be extremely stressful and even frightening. When a claim is filed, policyholders expect their insurance carriers to repair any damage caused by a natural disaster; unfortunately, this is not always the case. In reality, policyholders frequently commit paperwork errors that can cost them thousands of dollars. This is mainly due to consumers failing to read the fine print of their policy, resulting in underinsurance and, in some cases, paying for coverage out of pocket. 

We have listed below some easy steps for you to take to ensure your claim is submitted correctly. 

  • As soon as you learn that it is safe to return home, assess the damages you’ve incurred. Take photographs and maintain a list of your damaged property. 
  • Go through your policy carefully, and get a clear understanding of what can be covered with regard to clean-up and repairs. Most insurance policies provide reimbursement for carpeting, mold, painting, wall and insulation repairs, and rewiring and electric work. Remember, earthquake and flood damage is not accounted for in most homeowners’ or renter’s policies. 
  • If your home is still habitable but in need of repairs as a consequence of the natural disaster, talk to your insurer about the urgent repairs that must be made. Save the receipts for your expenses, whether you did it yourself or hired someone, and include them in your claim.
  • If you have had to move out of your home, keep a record of all your expenses like meals, hotel room charges, transportation, etc. A home insurance policy usually provides limited coverage for these expenses.

Keep in mind that most insurance companies have a time restriction for filing, so having everything in order and an expert attorney ready to help you will make this process go more smoothly.

Why The Cochran Firm

The attorneys at The Cochran Firm are among the most accomplished and persistent in the country. You deserve to have an experienced attorney at your side as you navigate the legal system. The attorneys at the Cochran Firm know how to fight for you.

Our experienced attorneys at The Cochran Firm are ready to assist you or someone you care about with a natural disaster claim. Our attorneys collaborate closely with each of our clients, drawing on pooled resources and access to legal knowledge to deliver the most effective legal representation possible.

You will need the assistance of an experienced attorney who has a track record of success in comparable instances to guide you through the procedure and assist you in receiving monetary damages you are entitled to under the law. Our attorneys have obtained verdicts and settlements totaling more than $30 billion for our clients. The Cochran Firm has offices, experience, results, and resources to assist customers across the United States.
If you need an experienced natural disaster lawyer to help you seek justice and compensation for your losses, please contact The Cochran Firm now for a free, no-obligation initial consultation.

Works Cited

“Disaster Fraud.” National Insurance Crime Bureau, https://www.nicb.org/prevent-fraud-theft/disaster-fraud.

“Stafford Act, as Amended.” FEMA, 1 May 2021, https://www.fema.gov

“The Stafford Act Explained.” FindLaw, 31 March 2020, https://www.findlaw.com Accessed 

“Weather disasters caused $145 billion in damage last year in the U.S., says NOAA.” CNBC, 11 January 2022, https://www.cnbc.com/