Tornado Alley: Who Pays Your Insurance Claim After a Natural Disaster?

Pile of rubble after a tornado hit a city

Posted on December 16, 2021

Hundreds Feared Dead After Tornadoes Erase Entire Towns Across Eight States

A line of severe weather that produced powerful tornadoes ripped through the Midwest over the weekend. Kentucky saw some of the worst of the storm’s wrath with hundreds feared dead, many more injured, and entire communities of people left homeless in an instant. From large corporations like Amazon to commercial manufacturers, tragic stories are surfacing where injured workers were not allowed to leave their posts and relied on their employers to keep them safe. 

 

When a natural disaster strikes, homeowners and businesses turn to their insurance carriers to help them pick up the pieces. We’ll look at what big insurance does in situations like these and the best ways for policyholders to make sure they are getting everything they are entitled to under the law to help them start to heal.  

 

Workers’ Compensation After a Natural Disaster

Workers’ compensation insurance is something that many states require employers to carry in order to operate. For instance in Florida, the Division of Workers’ Compensation requires employers to have worker’s compensation insurance “based on the type of industry, number of employees and entity organization”. In a high-risk industry like construction, businesses with just one or more employees are required to have active workers’ compensation insurance that meets minimum requirements. 

 

Workers’ compensation kicks in when a worker is injured on the job. There are many different kinds of accidents that happen each year and injure thousands of workers. In fact, in 2019 alone some 5,333 workers died after a work-related injury according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

 

In the case of the weekend storms, there are several tragic tales of workers who were told to remain at their posts or risk being fired even despite the pending danger. Several businesses had shelters and attempted to get employees into these, but questions remain as to the level of care provided by the employers in these cases. Reportedly, one candle factory in Kentucky was at near full capacity through the night trying to get holiday orders in when the storms struck. An Amazon fulfillment center in Illinois was similarly devastated when a tornado caused the building to collapse. 

 

For the families of those workers who were injured or killed when they weren’t allowed to leave, having to live with the “what ifs” can be absolutely devastating. What if Amazon had allowed workers to leave the facility? One Amazon driver who was killed had just texted his girlfriend to tell her he wasn’t allowed to drive the 15 minutes back to their home to be with her and their children. Sheltering in a bathroom within the facility that collapsed, this driver, Larry Virden, was among six other workers who died that night in Edwardsville, Illinois according to various news outlets.  

 

Property Damage Claims Related to Tornadoes

The property damage in Kentucky and other areas hit by the massive tornadoes has been described as something like a “warzone”. The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has been called in along with State National Guards to help communities hardest hit. In some locations, entire cities are nothing but concrete foundations and piles of rubble. With likely billions in property damage claims, insurance companies are also sending in their own disaster response teams which usually include investigators and claims adjusters. 

 

After decades of fighting big insurance companies, our team has seen time and again where after a disaster strikes, the real fight is just beginning. When a family loses their home and all of their belongings, the worst aspect can be when their insurance company offers an amount that’s far less than everything their policy promises. Senior Partner Chuck Farah explains that, “insurance companies work hard to limit how much they pay out in claims, which is how they make healthy profits that benefit shareholders. After a tragedy on the scale of these multi-state tornadoes, victims will unfortunately likely face continued woes as they battle their own insurance providers for full and fair compensation.” 

 

What About Wrongful Death & Personal Injury Claims?  

With so many deaths and injuries, questions will surround where businesses or city authorities could have done more to help protect people. For victims and their families, these questions need answers. In any case we take on, our team starts by asking the tough questions that led to the tragedy. 

 

  • Did a building that collapsed pass an inspection that it should have failed? 
  • Did an engineer’s design fail to provide adequate protection for a building’s occupants?
  • Did the emergency management system provide enough warning for residents or could it have predicted the event sooner?

 

These questions and many more like it are on the hearts and minds of those victims left asking “why” after a tragedy like this. When tragedy strikes, our team comes alongside these hurting families and helps to see there can be a light at the end of the tunnel, that the situation isn’t hopeless, and that they are definitely not alone. 

 

Injured or Out of Work After a Natural Disaster? Let Our Attorneys Help Pave the Road to Recovery

Whether it’s a workers’ compensation case, a personal injury, or a property damage claim, the attorneys at Farah and Farah are some of the best in the business and skilled in helping victims recover everything that was taken. Talk to an attorney who’s experienced in the type of loss you’ve gone through. Our team will provide a step-by-step roadmap to help you get the compensation you deserve.