Apparent sinkhole is slowly swallowing a Bartow home while owners battle insurance company

Homeowners discover new crack in home nearly daily

BARTOW, Fla. - Almost on a daily basis, Heather and James Williams find a new crack or a new gaping hole in their house.

For the last eight months, the family has lived in a home that appears to be sitting on a sinkhole. As the problem worsens, they've seen pieces of wall and ceiling begin to crumble to the ground.

"It is terribly frustrating because what we're really worried about is the safety of our family," said James Williams.

Recently their two-year-old son had a small piece of the ceiling fall onto his forehead.

"It's like a nightmare that never ends," he said.

The cracks have gotten so bad that in some parts of the house, you can see clear into the backyard.

As frustrating as the problem is, the bigger battle is now with their insurance.

The Williams' filed a claim back in December, but they say the company kept dragging their feet.

After getting so fed up, they hired attorney, Brad Stewart from Frost Van den Boom & Smith in Bartow.

"By the time they came to me, there had been no attempts by the insurance company to determine whether the house was being damaged by a sinkhole," he said.

Stewart got the claim in motion and later this week experts are scheduled to stop by to begin a series of tests to see how big the problem is.

It's something Stewart says should have happened months ago.

"Sadly I see this kind of thing happen a lot," he said.

Stewart admits he's biased, but his advice is to hire an attorney because he's seen how companies will purposely try to overwhelm customers.

The Williams' are waiting to see what will happen with their claim. They don't have the money to move out.

"Personally, I don't want to stay here," said Heather Williams. "I'm scared."

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