Tag Archives: sinkhole investigations

Wall Street Journal’s Two Cents on Florida’s Sinkhole Issues

As Florida’s sinkhole issues continue to become national news, the Wall Street Journal recently decided to get into the fray. Unfortunately, the article had a very pro-insurance slant and went out of its way to place those fighting for homeowners in a very negative light. The article focuses on public adjusters here in Florida and their role in the sinkhole claims process.

Debating the Journal’s stance

Kevin McCarty, commissioner of Florida”s office of insurance regulation, led the charge in this article bashing those that file claims. Mr. McCarty presents numerous statistics demonstrating the rise of sinkhole claims filed and benefits paid out but do these numbers really tell the whole story? Isn’t it possible that homeowners are simply becoming more aware of sinkhole issues and the damages to look out for?

Florida is a state that experiences a tremendous amount of growth yearly. The result is a tremendous amount of new housing and land development. This development is quite often in areas prone to sinkhole activity and in areas that had previously been undisturbed.

Why homeowners are seeing more sinkholes

Many geologists will tell you that the number of sinkholes in Florida today is no different than it would have been a hundred years ago. The difference is we are building in these areas. This is often associated with drilling, compacting soils, heavy machinery, even heavier structures and even disturbance of local aquifers and wells. These activities can literally activate dormant sinkhole activity.

Assuming this to be true, Florida homeowners will always face the potential threat of sinkhole activity. The fact that Florida insurers now are scrambling to drop coverage is a scary proposition for any and all homeowners, especially after they have been collecting sinkhole premiums for decades.

The Journal’s other victims

You will see from the article that public adjusters were not the only target of the Wall Street Journal wrath. Yours truly and the Barfield Law Group were also picked on. The Journal mentions the Barfield Law Group billboard on the Crosstown in Tampa in quite a condescending tone. Sorry guys, I don’t plan on abandoning homeowners to fight alone any time soon.

If you have a situation requiring legal representation for a sinkhole damage claim, contact Morgan Barfield at Barfield Law Group, 813-251-1285.

Have a burning question you’d like to ask about sinkholes? Let us know.

Florida Sinkhole Location Maps

How neighborhood sinkholes can affect you

Question: I am aware that at least one home in our neighborhood has had a confirmed sinkhole as the cause of structural damage. Is there a relationship between the presence of sinkhole activity nearby and the potential cause of the damage to my home?

The general opinion of most geologists and geotechnical engineers is that the presence of sinkhole activity in a nearby area is relevant in determining whether a sinkhole investigation may be necessary at a particular home.

How do you find old sinkholes?

Note, as a general rule, this is relevant. The more important issue for most professionals will be the specific investigation they conduct at the residence. In most cases, it is important for the professionals to have a comprehensive understanding as to the nature of the area in which a property is located.

Given the ease with which information can be shared on the web, most confirmed sinkholes will end up in a sinkhole public database and can be easily reviewed. But

However, keep in mind that these databases will be focused on the information collected in the past 5-7 years. Therefore, if a sinkhole appeared at any point beforehand, those sinkholes will not be included in the database.

Check for neighborhood sinkhole activity

If you are aware of a homeowner who has had sinkhole activity confirmed at their home, you should consider approaching them about it. Of course, some homeowners may be uncomfortable in sharing this information due to the sensitive nature of the topic.

Many times, you will hear engineers comment that they had been in a neighborhood previously, and may have found other homes with sinkhole activity in a neighborhood by simply looking at their own files. Therefore, while it’s suggested that you approach the subject delicately, this information could save your home.