Latest News


Consent to Settle Does Not Establish UM/UIM Coverage

February 12th, 2018 By Sheila Tan

A recent federal case out of the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division, highlights an important but occasionally misunderstood rule in UM/UIM litigation – that the insurer’s consent to an insured’s settlement with the third-party driver is no substitute for a legal judgment establishing liability and damages, which remains a condition precedent to coverage.   The phrase “legally entitled to recover” under the UM/UIM section of the auto policy means that a plaintiff must obtain a judgment against the third-party driver
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Please Join Us For a Texas-sized Webinar

February 9th, 2018 By Catherine Hanna

Hanna & Plaut is pleased to announce that Catherine will be speaking at an Insurance Council of Texas Webinar on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 on bad faith and assignment issues. Please join us for this exciting presentation. Texas-sized Issues: Assignment of Benefits and Bad Faith Tuesday, February 13, 2018 11:00am Speaker: Catherine Hanna Two important legal topics relevant to many of ICT member companies, assignment of benefits and bad faith, will be detailed and discussed by Austin attorney Catherine Hanna in
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Fifth Circuit Further Expands Additional Insured Coverage for General Contractors

February 5th, 2018 By Eric S. Peabody

In December 2017, the Fifth Circuit gave general contractors an early holiday gift wrapped in the opinion styled Lyda Swinerton Builders, Inc. v. Oklahoma Surety Co., 877 F.3d 600 (2017).  Swinerton was hired in 2003 as the general contractor on a ten-story office building in College Station, Texas, and contracted with several subs, including A.D. Willis Company, whose scope of work was identified in the subcontract as “ROOFING, ORNAMENTAL METAL, METAL WALL PANELS, And ROUGH CARPENTRY.”  Id. at 605. The
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Texas Supreme Court Broadly Construes Scope of Judicial Review of Workers’ Compensation Decisions

January 30th, 2018 By Robert Josey

    At the tail end of 2017, the Texas Supreme Court issued a decision which has rather far-reaching implications for the various participants in the Texas Workers’ Compensation appellate and judicial review systems.  In State Office of Risk Management v. Edna A. Martinez  the court held that: An “issue” for purposes of dispute resolution is broadly construed as the disputed matter related to a workers’ compensation claim (i.e. compensability, disability, extent-of-injury, etc.) An “issue” is not a legal argument advanced
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Gone to Trial

January 21st, 2018 By Catherine Hanna

  Many of the issues we deal with as insurance lawyers involve legal questions decided by judges or fact questions that provide motivation for settlement. However, we do sometimes come across issues that cannot be resolved by the court or settlement and that is where I find myself today. Tomorrow, I will be in the courtroom asking a jury of six (we are in county court) to decide my client’s fate. Trying a case can be fun, but it’s also
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Happy New Year and Happy Anniversary to Us!

January 14th, 2018 By Catherine Hanna

Happy New Year! Our blog took a little hiatus, but now we’re back and ready to take on 2018! While the new year is a time for reflection on years past and contemplation of goals for the future, this year presents a special oppurtunity for reflection at Hanna & Plaut as we celebrate 20 years as a firm! Many things have changed since 1998. For one thing, the Austin skyline has changed dramatically.   Austin 2018 The legal landscape for
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Court Hammers Roofer Who Was Acting as an Adjuster

September 25th, 2017 By Sarah Scott

Insurers have frequently battled with sometimes-unscrupulous parties who encourage homeowners to file claims for unneeded repairs. (These battles, in fact, spurred recent legislation that you can read about on our blog here and here.) A recent decision out of the Fort Worth Court of Appeals makes it clear that contractors who try to get around regulations for public adjusters – in other words, who offer to do work and seek payment from insurance companies – do so at their own
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Anti-Concurrent Causation Clause Renders “Status” Analysis in Surface Water Exclusion Largely Immaterial

September 6th, 2017 By Jeffrey C. Glass

Unfortunately for many homeowners recovering from Hurricane Harvey-related flooding, most Texas homeowners’ policies will not provide coverage for their claims. Damage caused by floods and surface water is excluded regardless of any other contributing cause of the loss. This was not always the case. In State Farm Lloyds v. Marchetti, 962 S.W.2d 58, 61 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 1997, pet. denied), the Court ruled that a surface water or flood exclusion did not apply to damage to a house resulting
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More on Harvey

September 1st, 2017 By Catherine Hanna

Please join Bill Chriss and Catherine Hanna on Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. Central time for a State Bar sponsored webcast as we discuss the new legislation affecting property insurance claims, as well as legal and practical pointers for handling or defending hurricane, flood, and other catastrophe claims. The Texas State Bar is offering this webcast for free. You can register here:


Hurricanes and Hailstorms – What’s New and What’s True

August 31st, 2017 By Catherine Hanna

We’ve seen some misinformation floating around regarding the effect of the recent Hailstorm Bill on insurance claims. The Hailstorm Bill applies to all claims for property damage caused by forces of nature, including earthquake, earth tremor, wildfire, flood, tornado, lightning, hurricane, hail, wind, snowstorm, or rainstorm. The new legislation will apply to lawsuits filed on or after September 1, 2017. Although all major provisions of the Hailstorm Bill apply to suits filed on or after September 1, 2017, the change
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