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New Orleans Attorney to Offer Tips on Hurricane Recovery

Attorney John W. Houghtaling II at a Hurricane Sandy forum in Huntington in November. Credit Pam Robinson
Attorney John W. Houghtaling II at a Hurricane Sandy forum in Huntington in November. Credit Pam Robinson
Story by Pam Robinson

Long Beach residents concerned about rebuilding their homes after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy can hear from a New Orleans attorney with plenty of experience in hurricane damage at Lindell Elementary School starting at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Attorney John W. Houghtaling II, who lived in Huntington before the family moved to New Orleans when he was 11, reviewed New York State laws on deadlines imposed on insurance companies, paperwork and the need for homeowners to push for settlements they believe they're entitled to at a town forum in Huntington in November.

He joined other experts who warned residents about settling too easily or naively with insurance companies, while a contractors' nonprofit organization discussed repairs, bankers talked about financing, and the town building department reviewed permit issues.

Houghtaling emphasized the legal responsibility of insurance companies to pay homeowners according to a legal schedule and said that they are required to pay out certain amounts of money even if the homeowner insists on more. And homeowners were warned not to sign releases if they weren't satisfied with the offer.

Playing off slogans, he warned that while agencies liked to portray themselves as good neighbors, keeping customers in their good hands, adjusters and insurers are "misinforming people and telling people things that just aren't true," he said.

Homeowners need to pay attention to whether damage is attributed to wind or flooding because that affects who pays for it.

"You're going to be told a lot that isn't true," he said. "The chronology of damage is very important," he said.

His firm, Gauthier, Houghtaling & Williams, has filed class action and other suits stemming from the hurricanes that clobbered New Orleans in recent years, handling thousands of claims by businesses and homeowners. As managing partner, he said his firm never turns away homeowners in need of legal assistance.

John Hogan, president of the local chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, said he'd heard complaints from different sides, from stalled decisions on repairs to homeowners trying to get insurance to cover unrelated repairs.

Houghtaling was invited to speak Thursday at Lindell School, at 601 Lindell Blvd., by Long Beach attorney and former City Council member Denis Kelly. Some of the topics his talk will cover include if homeowners are entitled to unconditional payments, whether they should get an independent inspection, taking notes of disaster chronology, the need to know that 15/15 Day Rule, and asking for help to untangle insurance company red tape.
Rory January 10, 2013 at 01:31 PM
Can you please supply the date, I assume you mean today the 10th. Thank you.
Rachel January 10, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Can anyone recomend an independant adjuster to help with insurance claims?
Frankie G. January 10, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Was this advertised? I read LB Patch every day & never saw this until now - Thursday night!!
Disgusted Homeowner January 10, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Do lawyers want to help you or make money for themselves. What's a bigger racket , insurance or law. We're scr3w3d no matter how you look at it.
Eddie January 11, 2013 at 07:59 AM
A slick presentation by yet one more opportunist seeking to line his pockets. Nothing new for Long Beach. For those who didn't make the infomercial, Houghtaling sells his services to help sue your insurance agent. You see, you were certainly too stupid to read your policy or determine the coverage you need. So your agent should pick up the tab. After a scrip to demonize insurance carriers - assuring us that their CEO's make more money than God -- Houghtaling settled into the usual sales pitch. Hire me and I'll sue. The few good points made should be obvious to anyone who can read and write: Hire an independent adjuster, get good quotes, and don't accept the insurance companies adjusters word as final. Everything is negotiable. Get it in writing. Who presented this symposium? Form the display of FEMA's logo and the City seal on stage the less informed might think this was some government info-session. Nope. Just one more sales pitch. Probably the first of many from the leaches that feed off the dead and injured.
Rory January 11, 2013 at 08:14 AM
Last night's presentation was very informative. I did not hear Mr. Houghtaling say at any point in time, hire me. In fact it was made quite clear that he is not licensed to practice law in the state of New York. I for one appreciate the efforts of Denis Kelly for organizing the event. My take away was that you must be proactive, do not sign anything and present your own assessment of losses sustained. Eddie, if you knew all of this information upfront, why didn't you organize an infomercial as you call it and share it with your neighbors.

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