Have you ever been in your house and felt the earth trembling underneath your feet? Have you noticed cracks in your walls, floor, roof, or pool? If so, the effects of rock quarry blasting might be causing devastating damage to your home. But do not worry, if you have been affected by blasting, your damages might be covered by your insurance.
I know, I know…. it is frustrating to determine what is covered under the policy because of all the vague and complicated clauses in the policy. And even if you are able to determine coverage, insurance companies will hire engineers to draft long and complicated engineering reports to justify the denial of your claim. So what should you do? Continue reading this article to find out.
What is Rock Blasting?
Rock blasting is a process to extract minerals by drilling holes in the earth and filling them with explosives. After the explosion occurs, the rocks break off into particles and are later collected and processed for sale. Each detonation creates a mighty amount of force through the air and ground that often travels several miles around the site.
In Florida, rock quarry mining is a billion-dollar industry. This mining technique is used to extract limestone that is later sold to be used mainly in road construction and concrete product.
Is Rock Blasting Occurring Near My Property?
Although the State of Florida has set regulations to ensure a safe use of explosives, most rock quarry blasts are still felt within a radius of approximately three to four miles. Most quarries were originally far away from residential areas. However, with the continuous population growth of the area we now find homes as close as 1,000 feet to the quarries.
There are at least 9 rock quarries in Miami-Dade County, which are causing damages to properties in the following areas and its vicinities:
- Florida City
- Palm Springs
- Miami Lakes
- Kendall West
- Kendall Lakes
- Westwood Lakes
What Types of Damages are Experienced by Homeowners and Businesses?
Although the companies themselves deny their blasting is strong enough to damage property, cities like Miramar recognize blasting as an issue affecting its residents. As a response, they have set up a webpage to provide information on blasting effects, monitoring reports, and complaint forms for residents to report any blasting-related incidents.
These are the types of damages often caused by nearby blasting:
- Cracks in foundations
- Cracked driveways
- Drywall cracks along walls and ceilings
- Cracked pools and pool decking
- Cracked flooring tiles and backsplashes
- Cracked concrete floors
Are Blasting Damages Covered Under My Policy?
Rarely will you find a homeowners policy with an explicit clause granting or denying coverage for damage caused by blasting. Instead, insurance companies have used the “earth movement” clause to deny coverage.
Earth movement is an expansive term, including occurrences like earthquakes, volcanic shock waves, landslide, and shifting ground. Because rock quarry blasting causes the ground to tremble, it is not far-fetched to believe such movements are included in the earth movement clause. However, the Supreme Court of Florida disagrees. The court held in Fayad v. Clarendon National Insurance Co. that the policy exclusion for damage caused by earth movement applied only to earth movement brought by natural events and did not apply to damage caused by human events such as blasting.
Although the Supreme Court of Florida excluded blasting from the definition of earth movement, insurance companies have found ways to amend their policies to avoid covering blasting damages. For example, we have seen the use of a lead-in exclusionary clauses in policies like the one discussed in Hernandez v. Citizens. There, the Third DCA found that Citizens policy’s terms “whether caused by natural or man-made activities” preclude coverage on damage caused by blasting.
However, insurance companies are still paying for damages caused by blasting. Recently, in April 2022, a Miami-Dade jury sided with homeowners in a quarry blasting property damage case. The homeowners were awarded a $62,000 verdict after their insurance company initially denied their claim.
What Should I Do If I Think Blasting Has Damaged My Property?
As we have previously said, understanding insurance policies is a complex task that you should not tackle on your own. Insurance companies use the help of experts to handle their claims. For that reason, you should not handle a claim and your own. Instead, you should retain the services of experts in handling insurance claims.
Here at Schirmer Law, we understand your needs. Our team of aggressive attorneys are specialized in scrutinizing insurance policies to obtain the best results for homeowners. We will take a close look at your case and give you an honest opinion on whether we think you can recover the damages caused by blasting under the policy.