Latest News

Keeping Adjusters Out of the Hot Seat – UM/UIM Edition

February 3rd, 2019 By Sheila Tan

UM/UIM cases are a unique hybrid of tort and contract. Although the insured’s own insurance carrier is often named as a defendant, it has no contractual duty to pay benefits until after the liability of the insured and the other motorist, as well as the damages suffered by the insured, have been determined. Brainard v. Trinity Universal Ins. Co., 216 S.W.3d 809, 815 (Tex. 2006). Trial courts often struggle with the dilemma of how to avoid the prejudicial injection of insurance
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You Can Lead an Insured to Water but Can You Make Him Settle?

January 27th, 2019 By Eric S. Peabody

Policy Creates Agency Relationship for Settlement An unpublished Texas opinion that has received some national attention in “case roundups” at the end of 2018, McCain v. Promise House, Inc., No. 05-16-00714-CV, 2018 WL 2042009 (Tex. App.–Dallas, May 2, 2018, no pet.), addressed the effect of an insured’s refusal to sign off on a settlement agreement desired and approved by its liability carrier. Glen McCain sued Promise House, a residential social services care facility, after his eleven-year-old son was physically and
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To Abate or Not to Abate – Judges Answer the Question

January 21st, 2019 By Lauren Burgess

Should appraisal and litigation proceed concurrently? Appraisal is intended as an extrajudicial process to resolve insurance disputes regarding the amount of damage and is a procedure intended to take place instead of litigation. However, in Texas, appraisal and litigation often coincide because either appraisal is invoked after litigation has commenced or the insured files a lawsuit in spite of an ongoing appraisal. In these cases, should courts abate the litigation pending completion of appraisal? Or should the litigation and appraisal
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Staying On the Level and Avoiding Discovery Snafus

January 14th, 2019 By Sarah Scott

Every case filed in Texas state court requires the plaintiff to choose a discovery plan: Level One, which applies only for cases where the plaintiff seeks less than $100,000 in damages; Level Two, which applies by default to all other cases and has its own specific set of deadlines; and Level Three, which allows the parties to agree on deadlines that work best for their case. Tex. R. Civ. P. 190.1-109.4. For many attorneys, choosing a Level 3 discovery plan
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Happy New Year!

January 6th, 2019 By Catherine Hanna

The champagne is all gone and we have brushed the confetti out of our hair. As we look forward to a prosperous 2019, we look back on the year that’s now past. 2018 was another great year at Hanna & Plaut. We celebrated our 20th anniversary as a firm and David and I continue to celebrate the great team we have assembled! We did have some changes. Though we were sorry to lose Anne-Marie Abarado, who  left us to continue
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Stormy Weather — Insured Sings the Burden of Proof Blues

December 3rd, 2018 By Eric S. Peabody

Insured’s Failure to Support Causation and Segregation with Evidence Results in Win for Carrier Insureds Richard and Linda Seim filed suit against their homeowners’ insurance carrier Allstate for damage to their home following a storm in August 2013. Seim v. Allstate Texas Lloyds, No. 02-16-00050-CV, 2018 WL 5832106, at *1 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth  Nov. 8, 2018, n.p.h.). Allstate had investigated and, despite finding some interior water damage to the home, had denied the claim because there was no evidence of
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November 12th, 2018 By David L. Plaut

A Foolish Consistency?  Cite Form Hobgoblins and the Texas Rules of Form Wayne Schiess, Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas Center for Legal Research, Writing, and Appellate Advocacy, welcomes the new edition of the Texas Rules of Form – The Greenbook as an improvement over previous editions.  See Schiess, The New Greenbook, 27 Austin Lawyer at 15 (November 2018).  Schiess notes the Texas Law Review editors in charge of the 14th edition were determined to improve The Greenbook and
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Determining the Reasonableness of Medical Charges – The Quest Continues

November 5th, 2018 By Sarah Scott

Texas Supreme Court Rules Government and Insurance Billing Rates are Discoverable for Determining “Reasonableness” of Hospital Charges to Individuals One of the biggest factors affecting the value of a personal-injury case is the amount of medical bills – hospital bills, in particular. To encourage hospitals to promptly and adequately treat accident victims who are uninsured, the Texas Legislature has granted hospitals a lien on any patient injured in “an accident that is attributed to the negligence of another person.” Tex.
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Adjuster in the UM/UIM Hot Seat? Houston Court of Appeals Says No

October 29th, 2018 By Sheila Tan

One of the more contentious battles in a UM/UIM case is the taking of the deposition of insurer’s corporate representative. The good news is that more and more Texas courts are acknowledging that the corporate representative’s deposition in a UM/UIM matter has no bearing on the issues of the tortfeasor’s liability and damages and “is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” We suspect that Plaintiffs’ lawyers desire to get insurance carrier representatives in the hot
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Federal Courts Sketch Roadmap for Chapter 542A Removals

October 22nd, 2018 By Eric S. Peabody

As many commentators have noted, the addition of Texas Insurance Code Chapter 542A—the so-called “Hailstorm Bill”—has substantially reduced the volume of weather-related lawsuits against insurance companies since September 2017. In addition to imposing strict timelines for pre-suit notice and inspections and curbing potential penalties and attorneys’ fees awards, Chapter 542A affects the parties to, and potential venue of, a lawsuit by allowing the carrier to assume any liability an “agent” might have to the claimant (with certain exceptions) for the
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