Sunday, September 16, 2012

# 345 - Lawyers and Chickens

This past week, I have been dealing with high stress matters. Isn't that the way life goes? For me, this is a season of whirlwinds. Part of it stems from a hurricane that hit us in 2008, but it seems the hurricane still hovers over my house.

In 2008, our house was destroyed by Hurricane Ike and we had difficulty getting our insurance company to pay on the claim. We had a great policy, but the people behind the policy were dragging their feet, so we hired a public adjuster...thinking they would work on our behalf to expedite our claim and to get us the most possible for our structure claim. Little did we know, the P.A. would adversely impact our desperate situation.

Sadly, the public adjuster (P.A.) did not do their job because they were too lazy, too passive, too prone to make blatant mistakes in writing, and to top it off, they could not do simple math associated with policy numbers and insurance claim payments. This was the type of representation that made me realize that I should have kept doing the claims process on my own because I still had to continually direct the P.A.'s attention to their repeated mistakes. All that hiring a P.A. did was to allow a third party to enter the scene and for them to create more work for me to handle. I had mistakenly been led to believe the Public Adjuster would take a load off my shoulders, not pile an unbearable load on my head.

For those of you going through a nightmare for an insurance claim, beware of Public Adjusters. I would suggest hiring a solid contractor who is accustomed to dealing with insurance claim paperwork and that is not thinking that his billing methods are adjustable for him to take extra funds to line his pocket. If he is billing your insurance company for $45,000 worth of work, you better get your money's worth. Some contractors will want to do $30,000 worth of work and pocket the extra $15,000 from your policy amount because they know how to alter the paperwork to make it look like they are doing more. To protect yourself, get a line-item bids from three different contractors, check their references and do not even discuss your policy limits with them. All the contractor should be concerned with is preparing sufficient documentation to show detailed repair itemization for the damages to be handled.

Regardless, when an insurance policy is involved and a contractor is necessary, it is strictly their job is to provide goods or services within your budget and this is the reason for getting bids. A good contractor will make sure all the bases are covered for necessary repairs. But, it is a home-owners responsibility to not let a contractor pump up charges just because they feel an insurance policy is their ticket to pocketing money. So, you have to be very careful. Our neighbor had a contractor who would do work on their house and never give them a breakdown of the costs involved because he was had full access to their policy information and he had been submitting paperwork to the insurance company for work that far exceeded an appropriate charge. All that did was eat away at the policy limits they had for structure repairs and leave them with less funds and less work done on their house. Not a good combination.

In our situation, due to the negligence and deceptive trade practices of the P.A., we had to obtain the services of an attorney to get the insurance company to pay on our claim and we won our case against the insurance company. As for the Public Adjuster, we were willing to let bygones be bygones and to not call attention to them being the reason for our claim problems. However, the P.A. got a case of the greedy-guts because of our judicial award, and I found myself amazed, again, at the sense of entitlement that some people seem to embrace.

After we had to go through hell and back to get our claims resolved, the Public Adjuster had the audacity to feel entitled to our legal reward. The legal reward that did not include extra "fun" funds, we only received enough to put our house back together. As for the P.A. and their philosophy...Isn't that a great way to make money? To not represent the client, then when the client is forced to go the legal route to get paid...the P.A. continues to sit back, see the claims process finally resolved through the court system, then file a suit to see if by chance it will benefit their own bank account. Seems like so many people think it's easier to make money by suing rather than by working for it. If the P.A. had worked for their money and adjusted our claim and helped us to obtain a settlement, we would have been thrilled to pay 10% of the adjusted funds to them. But, the P.A. dropped the ball, leaving us with no option other than to hire an attorney.

Since this worthless public adjuster sued me, I was forced to counter-sue. Not exactly a merry-go-round experience, but it is necessary. Therefore, over the past year, I have been spending a major amount of time sifting through old emails, documents, notes and making sure the attorneys have everything in their hands. It doesn't get into those hands unless I put it there and it's been a tedious process. Between my photographs and HUNDREDS of documents that have been provided, I am tucked out.

Trying to remember the details of happenings from 2008 is not always easy. But, I keep working at it because I have no choice. And this past week, my attorney several bombshells that had me fuming to the core. It turns out that the company we hired did not even have a public adjuster license at the time of signing our contract. Two of their people had their licenses, but I would never have signed to have them represent us because I was told that the "company" was a public adjusting company and had a team of experts on their behalf. Turns out, that was not exactly the truth. For public adjusters, the individuals must be licensed, but the company itself can be licensed as well. In my situation, the company that I thought I was hiring did not even have a current license of its own.

About a week ago, I had given my attorney a copy of licensing information I discovered online for the Texas Board of Insurance...she took it further and did find out the company was in the midst of a lapse. Just another disclosure the company kept from me at the time I signed to have them represent us for our claim. Even though my attorney does not magically have the information needed to move forward with this lawsuit, I am more than willing to work hard to give them all the ammunition I can provide. Good thing I did not forget to share that little "simple" piece of research I had conducted with my attorney. That little detail has blossomed into a big issue. All those details add up and better help the attorney put an overall picture together so they can put their dukes up for a solid fight.

As for me, I will not shirk in my duties to defend myself in this lawsuit. I will prepare in every way necessary. Things do not simply get accomplished on their own or because we have high wishes, God gave us appendages, a brain, to ears, a mouth, and the ability to put it all to work in preparation for a good cause. The efforts will be worthwhile.

As Abraham Lincoln said, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe."

So, I am being diligent in my preparation. It's always easier when someone else does the preparing, but I am not taking the easy way out...I confront it with knowing that I am taking the precious time needed to sharpen my axe.

During the week, to decompress, I go outside and spend some time with my chickens. This past week we got a lot of needed rain, so the girls were pitter-pattering around in a couple of mud puddles and loving it.

Beaker, my girl with the top beak missing, is the happiest of all. Every morning she flies up into my arms and I am ready to greet her with a smile.

Beaker always looks as if she has a little pouting expression.
Since her upper beak is missing, her food must be in a high pile for her to be able to get a few morsels into her mouth. The pecking action is not the same without a top beak. Here, she has eaten her little pile until nothing is left,, so I will pour another little pile of her own. She never gives up.

Her lower beak at least helps her to still do chicken-like pecking. But, it's much more difficult for her to eat than it is for the other birds.

And she is laying eggs. The egg on the bottom right is one of Beaker's eggs. I was delighted to find her sitting in the chicken coop, snuggled into a spot and ready to lay an egg! Finally, there are more eggs to be found everyday.

Even with the mud and the muck, this old girl is looking pretty good. She's keeping an eye on me as I take a few pictures.

Just so everyone remembers, she makes it clear that she is the "A" bird around here.

Now that it's on the record, she can strut her stuff in the opposite direction, but she is still watching me closely.

My chickens are a lot of fun. I look forward to the day when I am living on my acreage and able to watch some chicks join us the old-fashioned way instead of purchasing them through a store's check-out.

The yard is thankful for the drenching rains. The chickens have pecked the garden clean of anything they find tasty. Gardens and chickens do NOT mix. Chickens have halted all my gardening activities because all of it will be wasted energy. The chickens rule the yard. But, I will eventually have a garden design on my acreage that will cater to my need to grow vegetables on a manageable scale while enjoying the chickens in an area that is far from my home-grown goodness.

All six girls are happy and very accustomed to me hanging out with them. They are good at striking a pose on cue.

As for this chicken in the picture below...I still do not have enough chicken knowledge to determine whether or not this is a Jack or Jill. If this is a rooster, he's sweet enough. I don't believe there are any spurs to be seen. It's hard to tell if this is a rooster because this chicken is healthier than its buddy because this bird has both beaks intact; I cannot mistake the larger size for any sign that it is a rooster because Beaker would probably be the same size if she had her upper beak. I guess time will tell. This bird is about five months old.

I can tell you is more fun being with my chickens than sitting with attorneys. On that note, at least my attorneys are not chickens.


LindaG said...

Sorry to hear about the legal problems.
I despise shysters like those "public adjusters".
I'll add a prayer that it all goes well and quickly for you, Lana. ♥

I was thinking that chicken does look like a rooster, too. Will be interesting to see.
Have a great week!

Rae said...

Does the "maybe rooster" have pointy tail feathers? By that size, you should be able to tell. It's very clear on all of our spring hatched roos right now. Granted, it can occasionally be hard to tell. How old is the suspected roo?

The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

I think you have a Jill, and Beaker and "Jill" both appear to be Golden Comets. They are WONDERFUL layers. We've had our "Goldie" for 2.5 years, and she still lays almost every day.

Sorry about the lazy, greedy mess you are dragged into. Hope things work out quickly and you can instead stress about things like "What system can I use on the acreage to keep the chickens out of the garden?".

Mike said...

I think your suspect roo is a hen. At 5 months it should be crowing. At least mine were. But then, I have a strange breed. said...

Linda - I agree. I had mediation today and learned that the guy they were sending to our house the entire time, as our "Public Adjuster" and that had presented himself, in writing, to be our Public Adjuster, did not have a license to be such a thing. It was a very revealing, unbelievable moment, along with other revealations that were staggering and will be prepared for court. In fact, I get to prepare the Power Point presentations for court and it will be the most detailed, power-house presentation ever prepared! My attorney knows I can do these and we will be READY for court. I am shocked that this company even tried to pull such a scam. God be with me as I do my best to expose their scams against these people who have tried their best to take advantage of people who have gone through property loss and disaster. As for my birds, they are so amazing! I've learned that the gobble-gobble gear on their heads is not an indicator so easily assessed for determining whether or not the bird is a rooster. I still look at my girls and would be confused if I did not simply know they are egg-layers. I'm hoping that once I am around more roosters and different varieties of birds, I'll be better at spotting a rooster! I am trying to see if I can catch this bird in the coop, laying an egg! :-) said...

Rae - the suspected bird is about five months old. I have tried to get a closer look at the feathers, but they don't look pointy compared to the other birds. But, this chicken is so inquisitive and approachable, it is hard to imagine it is a rooster. I also keep looking on the feet to see if there are spurs developing. I think our first two roosters had spurs that were evident about this age. As Mike mentioned, it is also not crowing, so maybe I will get lucky and just have more eggs!

The Kelly's Adventures in KY - This is the beauty of blogging! I am starting to see by the comments that make great sense that this bird is very likely a hen. I could not remember the names of these chickens, sense they were Easter "rescue" chickens! So, thank you for reminding me. These Golden Comets are indeed beautiful layers. I have new eggs, white, that are being laid. I don't know if the egg color will change over time, but they are a good size and coming out pretty regularly. I will start counting them so I can try to put together if both are laying. Maybe I can get a picture of them in the coop laying! They are indeed great birds.

Lana said...

Mike - I could not remember exactly when those first two roosters we had began to crow, but you are right. It's mighty quiet around here, except for the one hen, Big Mama, when she gets hungry in the morning and I've taken too long. They don't even squawk as loud when laying eggs any more because they've become such pros at it. But, the two Golden Comets seem to be Jills. How did we luck out? I'm so glad to not have to go through the trauma of having to find a new home for another rooster! Having a backyard for chickens is already pushing it, so I'm so thankful the two new birds have worked out so wonderfully!