INJURIES IN FIRES AND INSURER’S EXPERT STRATEGY
Injuries in fires are heavily scrutinized by insurance companies, and you have to be very aware of the level of strategy that they employ in their efforts to avoid paying out for personal injuries and property loss resulting from fires. Once you gain some level of insight into the level of planning and strategizing that insurance companies undertake to avoid responsibility for making payments to people that have paid for policies, you will quickly understand why it is crucial that you retain an experience injury and insurance attorney to help protect your rights.
The quote below is from the Claims Journal, which is an insurance industry publication. This article was produced following an insurance industry seminar in which a presentation was given on expert witnesses in fire-related cases:
“Fire Experts in Today’s Courts: A Dramatization Legal Update”, was presented last month during NASP’s annual conference held in Reno, Nevada. The panelists included subrogation attorneys Ken Levine, Michael Munger and Raymond Mack, all with de Luca Levine and David Klitsch, the owner of Technical Fire Analysis.
The experts cautioned against receiving a written report too early in a claim in that it could hinder subrogation efforts later.
The session touched upon Daubert factors that apply to fire expert testimony. Daubert refers to the 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals. The Daubert decision defines when expert witness testimony will be permitted. The federal expert witness standard states that expert witnesses are only allowed to testify based on sufficient facts and reliability of testing methods in coming to their conclusion. The factors include:
- Whether the expert theory or technique can be tested;
- Whether the theory or technique can be measured;
- Whether the theory or technique is generally accepted among peers;
- Whether the theory or technique has been subjected to peer review and publication.
The panel experts said that the plaintiff in a case has the burden to prove an expert is qualified. Once expert testimony is submitted, the court may make its decision solely on submitted briefs, sometimes just on testimony and sometimes on both.
I emphasized this statement: “The experts cautioned against receiving a written report too early in a claim in that it could hinder subrogation efforts later.” So, if an insurer’s witnesses are being candid about their observations, why would providing a written statement “too early” be a concern?
If you have a question regarding a fire-related injury and you would like to speak with an injury attorney near Macon, Georgia, call The Sessions Law Firm at (478) 254-2665.