Introducing: Lance B. Stephan

Lance B. Stephan

Lance B. Stephan is an experienced civil litigator. Mr. Stephan primarily represents homeowners in legal disputes with their insurance carriers. Prior to joining the Mineo Salcedo Law Firm, Mr. Stephan was Associate General Counsel to Florida’s largest homeowners’ insurance company. Mr. Stephan also previously worked as an associate attorney for a well-known Miami law firm, where he represented a number of insurance carriers throughout Florida.

Mr. Stephan completed earned both his Bachelors and Masters Degrees at Florida State University and graduated cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law. During law school, he was a judicial intern for Justice Barbara J. Pariente, at the Florida Supreme Court. Prior to attending law school, he worked as a legislative aide in the Florida House of Representatives in Tallahassee, Florida.

Mr. Stephan is a member of the Florida Bar.


Introducing: Patricia Sierra

Prior to joining the Mineo Salcedo Law Firm and representing plaintiffs in insurance-related disputes, Patricia had years of experience in insurance litigation in both first–party and third-party insurance defense litigation, including non-binding arbitration proceedings and other means of alternative dispute resolution.

Before entering private practice, Patricia served for three years as law clerk and trial court staff attorney at the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Florida, in and for Marion County, Florida. Patricia assisted Judge Frances S. King, Judge Steven G. Rogers, and Judge Lisa Herndon on civil matters ranging from contract disputes, negligence actions, to probate matters. She also assisted the circuit court appeals panel, in addressing civil appeals of county court decisions.

Patricia is a long-time resident of South Florida, having received her Bachelor of Science degree from Barry University and is a graduate of the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law.

Patricia is fluent in Spanish and is a member of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers.


Introducing: Marius L. Boeru

Marius L. Boeru

Born in Romania and raised in Miami, Mr. Boeru earned his Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Florida in 2002, and was awarded a Juris Doctor degree from Florida International College of Law in 2005. He was a member of the first graduating class of FIU Law, as well as an inaugural FIU Law Review member.

Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Boeru’s litigation experience focused on representing individual defendants and insurance companies in personal injury cases. He also represented plaintiffs in automobile, slip/fall and wrongful death lawsuits where he was dedicated to fighting for the rights of the wronged throughout the State of Florida.
In his time as an attorney, he has spent countless hours in courtrooms throughout the State gaining valuable experience in civil trial practice and procedure. Mr. Boeru has tried cases in counties through Florida, including Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach.

Although his practice now focuses on fighting for the rights of property insurance holders, it also includes general civil litigation, personal injury, insurance coverage disputes, automobile negligence, trucking negligence, bad faith litigation, premise liability and negligent security with a focus on wrongful death and catastrophic injuries.

Mr. Boeru is admitted to practice in all courts within the State of Florida. He is also admitted to practice in the Southern and Northern Districts of Florida. Mr. Boeru’s professionalism and proficiency as a litigator has been recognized by his peers resulting in an AV- Preeminent rating – the highest rating for legal skill and ethics – from Martindale-Hubbell.


Introducing: Trevor Thomson

Trevor Thomson

Trevor Thomson

Trevor Thomson is an experienced trial lawyer and passionate advocate. Prior to joining The Mineo Salcedo Law Firm, Mr. Thomson served as an Assistant Public Defender for the 20th Judicial Circuit, where he zealously fought to defend the rights of the indigent. During his time at the Public Defender’s, Mr. Thomson tried over twenty jury trials and was the attorney of record in over one thousand criminal cases ranging from DUI to complex economic and SVU felonies.

In 2008, Mr. Thomson graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in Business Finance from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Outside the classroom, Mr. Thomson played for the Men’s Ice Hockey team at Saint Joseph’s.

In his senior year of college, Mr. Thomson was recruited by Morgan Stanley, a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, wealth management and investment management services. At Morgan Stanley, Mr. Thomson worked as a financial analyst in the operations division of the firm. There, he specialized in credit default swaps, interest rate swaps, and bespoke over-the-counter derivatives products. Mr. Thomson’s background in both litigation and finance make him a valuable asset in complex litigation cases.

After working for Morgan Stanley for over three years, Mr. Thomson’s passion for justice led him to enroll in law school in 2011. In 2014, Mr. Thomson graduated from Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida. While in law school, Mr. Thomson concentrated on opportunities to hone his craft in the areas of research, writing, and trial advocacy. Mr. Thomson excelled in those areas, serving as the Executive Articles Editor for the Ave Maria International Law Journal, working for his Contracts professor as a faculty research assistant, spending the summer of his second year working in federal court for The Honorable Douglas N. Frazier in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, advancing to the semi-final round in the Robert H. Bork Moot Court Competition, and receiving an “A” grade in Trial Advocacy.

Today, Mr. Thomson continues to fight against injustice, representing home owners, restoration companies, and other vendors against insurance companies who have either underpaid or denied on property claims.

Mr. Thomson is a member in good standing with the Florida Bar and is licensed to practice in all Florida State courts.


Incredible Insurance Claim Stories

Proeprty Claim Law

New house destroyed by fire

Insurance claims stories seems to make news headlines nearly everyday, which is no surprise, as 1 in 15 homeowners make a claim each year, according the Huffington Post. Given the many potential disasters that come with homeownership there is a high chance all of us will be reaching out to our insurance provider at one point or another to make use of the insurance we pay for.

While there are certainly stories of simple claims processes, the anecdotes below show there may not be such thing as a standard insurance claims. Some of these stories highlight fraud; others show instances where homeowners were required to pay out of pocket for disasters and faulty appliances. As you’ll see, most of these stories took quite a negotiation to get claims paid and others were unable to collect payment from their provider.

  • After a fire, a homeowner threw out a charred designer purse. Noticing the purse, the claims adjuster opened it up to find $400,000 of precious jewels and jewelry inside – saving the homeowner another catastrophic loss.
  • A homeowner was hiding cash in her bookshelf and claimed it was stolen. Fortunately, she was covered and able to recover most of the money, but if a house fire had destroyed the money, she would be out of luck as this instance was not on her policy.
  • A house was completely burnt down, but the homeowner’s claim was denied because she owned a dog on her insurance company’s prohibited dog breeds list, even though the dog had nothing to do with the fire.
  • A homeowner was denied, by their insurance company, after filing a claim for damage from their broken refrigerator. The claim was originally denied because the home was ‘customarily unoccupied,” although the insurance company is now reevaluating this decision.
  • In an attempt to cash in on his property and automobile a homeowner lit them both on fire. He did not receive money, but did receive five years in federal prison for insurance fraud.
  • An electric cooker, used by children, caused a kitchen fire, which was reported to the insurance company.
  • An insurance company denied a claim for damage, from excess steam, caused by a malfunctioning washing machine. After taking legal action and pointing out to the judge, steam is a form of water, the homeowner won the case.
  • A homeowner’s wine collection was damaged due to sewer backup, which exposed the wine to heat. The homeowner was able to win the claim, but not before a challenging battle.
  • While a family was away on vacation, their home had a kitchen fire causing nearly $16,000 in damage. Upon arriving home, they were shocked to discover they were not covered, by their policy, for insurance fire.
  • In another odd instance, a goose swallowed a homeowner’s diamond ring and the insurance company refused to cover it.
  • Another homeowner had a toilet flood causing damage to his home, Even though this was immediately reported to the insurance company, they avoided his calls, did not pay out the claim and even became hostile causing an already stressful situation to become even worse.

To ensure you are covered and receiving the appropriate compensation from your homeowner’s claim please call the Mineo Salcedo Law Firm at 954-463-8100.


8-year-old attempts armed robbery at West Palm store

An eight-year-old boy remains in police custody after attempting to rob a local convenience store at gunpoint, in West Palm Beach.

The boy rode his bike to the store and entered wearing a motorcycle helmet and baggy clothes while covering his face with a sweater. The odd behavior of this child alerted the employees that something was not quite right.

The boy confidently told the cashier, “give me the money,” while pointing a gun at him. Fortunately, another employee was keeping an eye on the situation and twisted the boy’s hand allowing the employee to secure the gun. At this point, the employee locked the gun in an office and put the ‘would be robber,’ in another room to wait for the police to arrive.

The minor told his mother, Ebony Alls, he was going to the park and gave her a hug before leaving to attempt his stick-up. The mother realized something was wrong when she picked up her purse and noticed it was lighter than usual. Upon investigation, she discovered her loaded handgun had been taken from her purse.

Customers who were interviewed at the scene were shocked that an eight-year-old was able to secure a loaded gun.

This minor is undergoing a mental health evaluation as he mentioned wanting to kill himself after the incident. While the boy will be taken to a juvenile detention center, charges have not yet been filed against him or his mother.

If your home or business has been burglarized, you may be entitled to insurance benefits. Call The Mineo Salcedo Law firm for a free case evaluation. (954) 463-8100.


EF-1 tornado touched down in Coconut Creek

EF-1 tornado touched down in Coconut Creek

Property Claim LawIt is believed a tornado touched down in several areas throughout Broward County January 27, 2016, causing significant damage. While each of the touchdowns lasted only 10 or 15 seconds, it was plenty of time to cause several car accidents, tear off roofs, overturn vehicles and cause injuries to people in the area.

The first of the three touchdowns came on Broward College’s North Campus where students heard loud banging and severe rain around 9:30 am. Fortunately, there were no injuries reported at the college, as class was in session and students were safely indoors. In response, the college followed emergency protocol, alerting students and canceling daytime classes to allow for clean up.

On the turnpike, near Sample Road, there were several car accidents and a semi trucks that were flipped over due to the nearly 100 miles per hour winds. The tornado also made its way through Pompano Beach where it caused significant structural damage to at least one industrial building and left some residents fearing for their lives.

The third and final touchdown lasted no more than 15 seconds, but still ripped shingles from the roof of the Wyndmoor Retirement Community and uprooted tress before dissipating. The American Red Cross has been dispatched and is helping residents of the community.

During tornados and other severe weather, it is recommended, to stay inside and near an internal room to avoid and debris that may be flying due to the heavy winds.

If you think your property sustained any sort of storm damage, contact The Mineo Salcedo Law Firm for a consultation.  Call (954) 463-8100.

 

 


Insurance Claims Process Holding up Recovery of Cape Coral

cape coral tornado blog postAs the city of Cape Coral begins coming to terms with the loss and damage of their belongings and homes, many residents are growing frustrated of not being able to begin the healing process.

The $1.2 million in aid money from the Cape Coral emergency fund can help clean up debris, but most families are waiting on their insurance companies to repair their homes. Many of these residents are stating their insurance companies are still conducting estimates and not allowing them to begin the repair process until the insurance company completes their procedures.

As water continues leaking into homes and damage accumulates, many are waiting several days to speak with their adjuster. Of those who have had an adjuster visit their home, many are stating there are several days between the adjuster’s visit and an estimate being provided, all while the homes continue being battered by the elements. This gap is making an already catastrophic situation even more frustrating for the displaced families.

While insurance companies have agreed to assist with the cost of a hotel, residents are displaced for an unknown amount of time and having a tough time finding a longer-term rental property to live in during this especially busy rental season, causing additional heartache. The sooner these families can begin hiring contractors and putting their homes back the way they were, prior to the storm, the sooner they can get back their normal lives back.


Insurance Rates Still Rising In Spite of A Decade of Zero Hurricanes! Why?

The hurricane season has ended and in Florida, this means a decade of zero hurricanes in spite of the fact that the country has had a few devastating hurricanes since 2000. Florida though has had around 63 subtropical or tropical cyclones from 2000 up to 2013 causing over $64 billion in damages, 69 deaths, and 82 injuries. The strongest hurricane to hit Florida happened in 2004, Hurricane Charley. That hurricane alone cost $5.4 billion in property damages, $285 million in agricultural loss and damages, 24 deaths, and almost 800 injuries. In some areas, about 95% of the buildings were damaged. But that’s all part of Florida’s past and seeing that no hurricane has hit the state at all, it begs the question: Why does Florida have one of the highest rates in home insurance in the country?

Insurance experts have the answer. According to them, insurance providers are pointing the blame on construction materials. They say the cost of repairing or rebuilding has increased dramatically over the years, not even including the cost of labor. There is a domino effect that ends with the consumer paying higher rates.

Based on this logic, other states with few to no hurricanes should also have high insurance rates while states that have been hit by hurricanes in the past 10 years should have higher insurance rates than Florida because of more damages. According to Sean Shaw, a slightly controversial consumer advocate, insurance companies are just using this as an excuse to charge high rates. He adds that the higher rates consumers are paying is all part of corporate earnings especially for top executives. Shaw, who is a lawyer and son of a retired Supreme Court Justice, Leander Shaw ran for representative of the House District 61 but lost to Edwin Narain by a mere 774 votes.

Shaw remains determined to fight for the rights of consumers and whatever reasons insurance companies throw at those who dare complain can all be rebutted be it sink holes (Florida experiences the most number of sinkholes in the country) or insurance fraud.

Let’s look at sinkholes.

According to experts, sinkholes are not increasing but attention to it is growing because of the Internet and the shock value of seeing images of sink holes. In fact, insurance companies in Florida begun questioning claims on sinkhole damages so much so that in 2011, the state’s insurance law was overhauled. The new law actually devalues a property because it shuts the door on certain claims from the “sinkhole alley” of Florida which is Pasco and Hernando counties. This law makes it harder for property owners to qualify for damage claim so property owners are stuck with having to shoulder the cost should any part of their property be damaged by a sinkhole. Other lawyers say it is almost impossible to qualify under sinkhole damage because insurance companies are allowed to pick the engineers who will decide on claims. In addition, sinkhole is a separate insurance from the basic homeowner’s property insurance.

Let’s look at insurance fraud.

The Florida Division of Insurance Fraud gets over 10,000 alleged cases of insurance fraud with about 1,000 cases presented for prosecution. However, even if Florida ranks 3rd in the country for cases presented for prosecution and second in number of arrests for insurance fraud, the Florida’s Division of Insurance Fraud is highest in recovery of losses from insurance fraud. In 2009, restitution amounted to over $34 million.

Shaw insists, “At a certain point you have to tell the insurance agency we don’t care what the excuse is.” He insists that electing someone who will be pro-consumer is the best way to stop the rates from increasing.

Right now consumers have options to getting lowered insurance rates aside from electing pro-consumer leaders:

  1. Ask current state representatives and leaders to get tough on insurance
  2. Shop for insurance well in advance so you don’t get stuck with having to make fast decisions just to get it “over and done with”
  3. Invest in additional security and hurricane items like roof straps to get additional discounts

If you have an insurance claim or want to have our attorneys review your policy of insurance, please call The Mineo Salcedo Law Firm for a free consultation.  (954) 463-8100.