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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 32927
Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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I recently used the services of a water restoration company.

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I recently used the services of a water restoration company. The company negotiated charges with my insurer and my insurer paid the agreed amounts in a check to me. I was later billed for amounts above the agreed upon amounts by the restoration company. The company now threatens to file a mechanic's lien on my property if I do not pay the increased charges. Am I liable for payment?

Dwayne B. :

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.

Dwayne B. :

Was there anything in writing that said they were only going to charge the amount paid by the insurance company?

Customer:

No.

Customer:

I am awaiting your answer.

Dwayne B. :

If there is nothing that restricts the amount they can charge and the work was done then you would be liable for the extra amount.

Customer:

If the company presented their estimate of charges to the insurance company and those amounts were accepted, why are they now allowed to bill for more than the authorized amount? The scope of work did not change.

Dwayne B. :

There can be a difference between what an insurance company will pay and what the company will charge. I'm not saying that is what happened in your case, but I have seen a number of cases where the insurance company won't pay the full measure. At that point it becomes a case against the insurance company for a failure to pay the actual damages as opposed to a failure of the contractor.

Dwayne B. :

If the contractor agreed to accept what the insurance paid as payment in full it is a different matter.

Customer:

My insurance company alleges in a letter to me that the amounts were negotiated and agreed to by the contractor. How can I now be liable for charges that I did not agree to nor was made aware of; I had no apportunity to to accept or decline prior to the work being completed. The issue only became an issue when my insurer sent the check to me for payment. Do I have a legal recourse?

Dwayne B. :

Yes, but the recourse depends on exactly what happened. You would have a case against either the insurance company, the contractor or both.

Dwayne B. :

Were you given an estimate on what it would cost for the work? Were you under the impression it wouldn't cost you anything? If so, why were you under that impresssion?

Customer:

I was not given an estimate of the cost. The contractor chose to deal directly with my insurance company. Of course I knew ther would be charges, but how much I did not know. When I asked, the contractor indicated he was working it out with my insurance company; and indicated that emergency services were covered.

Dwayne B. :

I need you to help me understand. You stated, "of course I knew there would be charges". So is your issue that you are unhappy with the amount of the charges you owe as opposed to being unhappy that you owe anything?

Customer:

I am frustrated with the contractor entering into an agreement with the insurance company to accept negotiated payments and then billing me for a different amount after the fact.

Dwayne B. :

So, again, is the issue that you were billed anything at all (above the deductible of course)?

Customer:

Had I been made aware of the charges before the work began or at some point prior to completion, I would not have a problem with paying. Now I feel that I am being held hostage by the contractor who is using the threat of a mechanic' lien to get money he would otherwise not have received from my insurance company.

Dwayne B. :

The issue in this case is whether they charged a reasonable amount for the work. If you believe they overcharged you then your case is against the contractor, if you believe the insurance company underpaid then your case is against the insurance company.

Customer:

Thank you.

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