How long does it take to settle an insurance claim lawsuit?

No one can accurately predict how long it will take to settle an insurance claim lawsuit. There are many factors that play a role in determining the length of time it takes to settle a property damage insurance claim lawsuit. Some of those factors include: (1) the credibility of the witnesses and claimant; (2) the presence or absence of alternative explanations for the cause of the loss; (3) the attitude of the claims adjuster; and (4) the stage of the litigation.

Perceptions of credibility play a factor in the length of time it takes to settle a case. If the carrier views you, your experts or your lawyer as less than honest, it will take a long time to settle your case. It is important that you and your representatives provide the carrier with a consistent version of events that is logical and makes sense to avoid any delays caused by the carrier's perception of your lack of credibility.

If there are alternative causes of loss - one of which is covered and one that is not - it will take longer to settle your case. For instance, many Hurricane Ike claims have alternative causes of loss, windstorm and flood surge. Finding an appropriate balance between the causes of loss takes time.

The attitude of the claims adjuster plays a role in the loss. If the claims adjuster does not like you, your claim, your representatives, he can delay resolution of the loss. It is very important to recognize that the claims adjuster can be a friend or enemy. If an enemy, it is important to take steps to remove him from settlement authority your claim.

In almost all circumstance, it is important to get the litigation process started as soon as your lawyer's investigation is complete. The litigation process takes time. It could take up to 24 months to resolve an insurance claim lawsuit. But, in almost all circumstances, the closer you are to a trial setting, the more willing a carrier becomes to explore settlement options.

Accordingly to resolve an insurance litigation claim, it is important to select the right representatives to represent you; to thoroughly investigate the cause of the loss; and to start the litigation process as soon as the investigation is complete.

Will Baston Challenges Be Extended to Sexual Orientation?

During jury selection, litigants have two types of jury strikes: for cause and without cause. A potential juror can be struck from the jury panel for cause if he is proven to have a bias for or against a party. In addition, litigants may strike a number of potential jurors for no reason at all. Strikes for no reason are called peremptory strikes.

In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court held that litigants can not exercise peremptory strikes if the sole reason for the exercise of the strike is based on race. In such cases, litigants must express a race neutral reason for the exercise of the strike. The process is called a Batson challenge after the name of the case, Batson v. Kentucky.

The reasoning of the Batson case has been extended to gender as well as race.

Currently, a California federal appeals court is considering extending the Batson holding to sexual orientation. The issue arose in a pharmecutical case involving AIDS medications. a lawyer for a large drug company sought to use a peremptory challenge to exclude a potential juror from the panel that appeared to be homosexual.

California state courts have extended Batson to sexual orientation for over a decade, but the same has not been extended in federal courts.

Complaint Accuses Hon. Edith Jones of Racial Discrimination

The New York Times (6/5, Bronner, Subscription Publication, 1.68M) reports, “A group of civil rights organizations and legal ethicists filed a complaint of misconduct against a senior federal judge on Tuesday, alleging that recent remarks of hers showed bias against minority groups and an inappropriate religious belief in the death penalty.” The Times continues, “The complaint, against Judge Edith H. Jones of Houston, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, asserts that at a speech at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in February she said that blacks and Hispanics were more prone than others to commit violent crimes and that a death sentence was a service to defendants because it allowed them to make peace with God. The complaint is signed by representatives of, among others, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program and cites a number of people who attended the lecture.”

In short, I find these accusations unbelieveable. Judge Jones is an extremely talented and respected member of the judiciary. However, there needs to be a full investigation because there is no place for racial bias or even the appearance of racial bias on the judiciary.

Superstorm Sandy Related Lawsuits Being Filed Against Non-insurance Defendants

Superstorm Sandy has come to be known as a “once in a century” kind of storm that caused devastation to many unprepared people. With unique storms, come unique challenges. Most look to their flood and wind insurance to cover damages sustained in superstorms like Sandy. However, when insurance coverage is limited or unavailable or when you live in New York, a jurisdiction that is overly protective of insurance companies, storm victims have begun to look to others who may have been responsible for their loss. 

Lawyers are assisting Sandy victims bring claims against management companies and condominium boards for negligence related to the failure to take reasonable precautions in light of the storm.  Other lawsuits seek to hold building owners liable for breach of the warranty of habitability. Lawsuits of this nature are difficult because the law affords defendants in these types of claims with broad defenses such as the business judgment rule. The New York Law Journal has an article exploring the basis of these types of lawsuits and legal protections afforded the target defendants in these types of claims that is worth reading.

Adjusters the weak link in catastrophes

In a recent article published at, former Galveston lawmaker, A. R. "Babe" Schwartz is quoted as saying, "The weak link in it all always has been a lack of competent adjusters when a big storm hits."

Mr. Schwartz was commenting on his assessment for the failures of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association to respond appropriately to policyholders after Hurricane Ike in 2008.

"When castrophe strikes the service deteriorates."

I concur in Mr. Schwartz assessment; however, I believe additional factors complicate successful claim resolution. These factors include non-field representative approval requirements and complicated casual factors intersecting with policy coverages and exclusions.

Within this mix, homeowners are fearful that their homes will not be repaired and adjusters are fearful that their superiors will accuse them of over paying the claim. This confluence of events often leads to delays that might not happen in ordinary times.

For Mr. Schwartz' full perspective and informed comments read the article