Reservoir Flooding Claims
If your home or business first sustained flooding after the Addicks or
Barker dam releases at 2 a.m. on August 28th, then there’s an important
area of the law you need to be aware of called inverse condemnation. An
inverse condemnation can occur when the government takes private property
for a public use without any formal process or condemnation proceeding.
In order to succeed on a claim you must prove the government’s intentional
actions resulted in property being taken, damaged, or destroyed for a
public use. According to public officials, the Hurricane Harvey controlled
water releases were necessary to protect the integrity of the Addicks
and Barker dams from the catastrophic damage that would occur in the event
of an uncontrolled release as well as to preserve storage capacity in
case additional water came down. There is little question, in our minds,
that these acts were intentional.
The fact that it was done for some greater good does not matter in a takings
case. Even if the dam release was done for a public purpose, the government
must still compensate affected property owners. Inverse condemnation doesn’t
mean the government acted improperly or illegally. Nor does it mean the
dams were poorly engineered or were past their useful life, or that people
should be punished. Affected owners may be able to maintain an inverse
condemnation simply because the government flooded their homes for a valid
public reason. When the government does damage to or takes land, it is
legally required to pay just compensation to the property owner.
How these cases work
In most takings cases, the government first decides that it needs to take
land for a public purpose, such as building a highway, laying train tracks,
or installing utility lines, and then initiates proceedings to take the
land and compensate the owner. Here it’s reversed. Meaning, an inverse
condemnation action arises when the government takes the land first, and
the property owner is forced to file a lawsuit in order to secure their
rightful compensation. We are doing that for individuals that do not wish
to be part of a class action. We are litigating these cases for each individual,
since each individual claim may be different.
Inverse Condemnation is Different than Flood Insurance
In order to maintain an inverse condemnation claim, a property owner does
not need to have flood insurance – in fact, whether or not you have
flood insurance doesn’t matter. Property owners without flood insurance
should pursue an inverse condemnation action, as it may be the only legal
recourse they have.
What damages can you get?
If the Addicks and Barker dam releases damaged your property, you may be
entitled to compensation for the costs to rebuild or repair your home
or business. In addition, property owners impacted by toxic contamination
or chemical explosions due to a hurricane-related dam release may also
be entitled to compensation. You may also be entitled to amounts that
compensate you for the diminution in value to your property.
Houston First Party Insurance Lawyers
If your home or business has been damaged or destroyed as a result of the
Barker or Addicks dam releases following Hurricane Harvey, you may be
entitled to compensation. In fact, if you own property damaged by the
Hurricane Harvey dam releases, your best – and in some cases only
option – to repair or replace your property will be an inverse condemnation
action. We are available to provide more information about your legal
options at no cost to our fellow Houstonians and other Texas residents.
And we do not charge for our time or expenses – our firm only collects
a fee if we succeed. If we don’t recover for you, you never pay
us a dime. Call or email one of our attorneys today for your free consultation.