Month: May 2017

New Blue Tarp Legislation Will Make Commercial Insurance Claims More Difficult

Blue Tarp Legislation

House Bill 1774/Senate Bill 10 is going to make filing a bad faith commercial insurance claim more difficult. The Bill, which has now been signed by Governor Greg Abbott, will affect first-party property insurance claims involving “forces of nature,” which includes earthquakes, wildfires, tornados, floods, hurricanes, lightning, hail, wind, snowstorms, and rain events. Texas is no stranger to extreme weather, so the new Bill will impact thousands of Texas policyholders across the state.

Texas lawmakers have placed out-of-state interests above Texas policyholders in several key ways:

  1. The new Bill provides new legal protections to foreign insurance companies who violate the Texas Insurance Code and provides immunity to licensed Texas adjusters even when they commit wrongful claims conduct.
  2. Foreign insurance companies can force cases into backlogged federal courts by simply assuming the liability of an adjuster
  3. Texas policyholders must list all damages 61 days before filing suit, or they are precluded from recovering attorneys’ fees
  4. Texas policyholders must win at least 80% of their pre-suit damand in trial, or their attorneys’ fees are reduced or eliminated
  5. The penalty interest rate will decrease from 18% to 10%. In other words, the insurers receive nearly a 50% windfall

While all of these provisions are detrimental to policyholders, three in particular will make obtaining proper compensation a long and complicated process.

Assumption of Agent Liability

Texas policyholders should have the right to a jury trial for business insurance disputes. Protecting foreign insurers and their hired adjusters from Texas law means more claims for property damage will be handled in federal courts, which are backlogged in Texas with more judicial vacancies than anywhere else, and are often more favorable towards insurance carriers than policyholders. This practice is often referred to as “forum-shopping” and it allows insurance companies to cherry-pick courts they believe will be more favorable to them.

Pre-Suit Notice

Requiring notice for filing a lawsuit is fair, but the new law contains several overreaching provisions that will be harmful to policyholders for a number of reasons. First, the notice must state a specific amount of damages before policyholders’ litigation experts have the chance to fully evaluate the loss. Second, the notice must also spoon-feed the carrier with the acts they committed which serve as the basis of the suit. If this wasn’t enough, after receiving pre-suit notice, the insurance carrier is permitted to conduct an additional inspection of the property, regardless of how many times it has already inspected the property.

Decreased Prompt Payment Penalties

Existing law allows policyholders to recover 18% interest per year if an insurance carrier violates the Texas Insurance Code. Under the new law, policyholders are only able to recover 10% interest. This change is a disincentive for insurers to promptly pay claims, and only serves to provide fewer penalties for insurance carriers operating in bad faith. Remember that insurance companies make most of their profit by investing the “float,” which is the money that insurance companies hold onto between the time the insurer collects premiums and pays claims. Reducing the interest rate for delayed claims serves no purpose other than to encourage insurance companies to “beat the spread” on the float. No Texas policyholder will benefit from a decreased interest rate.

If you still have questions regarding the new legislation, you can read what our founding partners, Jeffrey Raizner and Andrew Slania, have to say about legislation and the insurance industry in Texas in their recent white paper.

Policyholders Still Have Rights

While the Blue Tarp legislation will make recovering damages for commercial insurance claims more difficult, policyholders still have the right to pursue compensation. For policyholders, the new legislation means they must choose experienced insurance lawyers to pursue their claims. Lawyers unfamiliar with the intricacies and nuances of the new legislation could cause a policyholder’s claim to be completely thrown out.

At Raizner Slania, our bad faith insurance lawyers are leaders in the property insurance industry. Our lawyers regularly speak across the country and are published authors on the subject of insurance law. In addition, we continue to win substantial recoveries for clients against insurance carriers around the globe. If you believe your insurance company wrongfully denied your claim, it is more important than ever to turn to insurance lawyers with a demonstrated track record of success. Call Raizner Slania today to learn how we can help.

Bair Hugger Infection Lawsuit Lawyer

Raizner Slania Files 3M Bair Hugger Lawsuit on Behalf of Rhode Island Resident

Raizner Slania filed a 3M Bair Hugger lawsuit on behalf of a Rhode Island resident who sustained a severe infection after a surgery using the device.

In September 2015, the plaintiff underwent a left total hip arthroplasty in which the Bair Hugger device was used throughout the scope of her procedure. While the Bair Hugger warming blanket is used to regulate a patient’s body temperature during surgery, the device also introduced contaminants into the plaintiff’s open surgical wound. These contaminants caused her to develop a periprosthetic joint infection (PJI), more commonly known as a deep joint infection (DJI). The pathogens identified were haemophilus parainfluenza, beta-hemolytic strep Group B, staphylococcus aureus, and citrobacter koseri.

Haemophilus parainfluenza, is a bacteria commonly found in the oral cavity of humans; however, when these bacteria are transmitted to other parts of the body, they can cause severe infections. Strains of haemophilus parainfluenza are becoming increasingly resistant to common antibiotics and require extensive medical treatment. Beta-hemolytic streptococci is a type of the common Step bacteria that causes the destruction of red blood cells. Staphylococcus aureus, more commonly referred to as staph, is a common infection found in hospitals that can be difficult to treat, particularly in joint replacement patients. Citrobacter koseri, or C. koseri, is an opportunistic pathogen that can cause life threatening complications like meningitis and sepsis.

As a result of plaintiff’s infection caused by the Bair Hugger, she was forced to undergo multiple extensive irrigation and debridements, placement of wound vac, and long-term PICC line antibiotics. She suffered greatly as the result of her infections, both physically and economically.

The plaintiff believes the Bair Hugger device is defective in both design and manufacture and that the manufacturers, 3M Company and Araizant Healthcare, failed to adequately warn patients of the infection risk.

Bair Hugger Infection Lawsuit Lawyer

If you underwent a hip or knee joint replacement surgery within the last five years and suffered a post-surgical infection, you may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries. Contact a Bair Hugger infection lawsuit lawyer at Raizner Slania today for a free consultation to discuss your case.

Bad Faith Insurance Lawsuit Attorneys

Homeowners Association Files Bad Faith Insurance Lawsuit

Raizner Slania filed a lawsuit on behalf of a local homeowners association against Mid-Century Insurance Company after its hail damage claim was wrongfully denied.

April 2016 Bexar County Hailstorm

On April 12, 2016, a severe hailstorm swept through Bexar County causing significant damage to the roofs, interiors, and exteriors of condominiums contained in over 50 separate buildings managed by the policyholder homeowners association . Immediately upon discovering the damage, the homeowners association filed a hail damage insurance claim with Mid-Century to cover the cost of the repairs and other damages.

In response to the claim, Mid-Century assigned adjusters, consultants, and agents to the plaintiff’s file that were inadequate and improperly trained. Specifically, the claim was assigned to two adjusters, both of whom were not properly trained to handle this type of claim and failed to perform an adequate evaluation of the damage.

After a haphazard investigation of the property, the adjuster prepared an estimate of damages to the structure that grossly undervalued and ignored obvious damages to the property. Mid-Century relied solely on the adjusters’ investigation to determine what amounts, if any, to pay on the plaintiff’s claim. Mid-Century and the adjusters represented to the plaintiff that certain damages were not covered under the policy when in fact they were.

Mid-Century denied and grossly underpaid the plaintiff’s claim. In addition, Mid-Century continued to deny and delay timely payment of the damages it did accept. This caused the plaintiff to suffer significant economic impact, worry, distress, and continuing economic and physical damage.

Mid-Century Operated In Bad Faith

Our client cites numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code, including failure to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim, failure to implement reasonable standards for investigation of a claim, and violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA).

Bad Faith Insurance Lawsuit Attorneys

Unfortunately for Texas policyholders, bad faith insurance practices are rampant. For policyholders whose claims have been wrongfully denied by their insurance company, the only way to seek full compensation is with the help of an experienced bad faith insurance lawsuit attorney. At Raizner Slania, our attorneys can help you get what you rightfully deserve under your policy. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

MRSA Infection Lawsuit

Raizner Slania Files MRSA Infection Lawsuit On Behalf Of D.C. Woman

Raizner Slania filed a MRSA infection lawsuit on behalf of a D.C. woman against 3M Company and Arizant Healthcare after she received an infection from the companies’ Bair Hugger warming blanket device.

The plaintiff underwent a left total hip arthroplasty in August 2015 in which the Bair Hugger was used throughout the scope of her procedure to regulate her temperature. While regulating body temperature during surgery can reduce bleeding risks and shorten hospital stays, the Bair Hugger device also introduced contaminants into the plaintiff’s open surgical wound that caused her to develop a deep joint infection (DJI). The pathogens were identified as MRSA and pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA for short, is a strain of the common Staph infection that has become resistant to the antibiotics normally used to treat infections. Because of its resistance to antibiotics, MRSA is often referred to as a “super bug,” and is incredibly difficult for physicians to treat. Pseudomonas aeruginosa or P. aeruginosa is a gram negative bacteria that is a multi-drug resistant pathogen, meaning it is also resistant to some types of antibiotics used to treat infections.

As a result of the plaintiff’s infections caused by the Bair Hugger, she was forced to undergo removal and replacement surgery, multiple extensive irrigation and debridements, wound vac placement, and long-term PICC line antibiotics. Unfortunately, the plaintiff also suffered additional complications from the infections, including sepsis, which is a life-threatening condition caused by the body’s response to an infection.

The plaintiff suffered not only physically from the infections caused by the Bair Hugger, but also financially with extensive medical bills. The plaintiff believes 3M and Arizant failed to warn patients about the infection risk associated with their device and the Bair Hugger is unreasonably dangerous.

MRSA Infection Lawsuit Attorneys

If you underwent a hip or knee surgery within the last five years and suffered from an infection, you may be able to file a claim. 3M and Arizant had a responsibility to warn patients of all risks related to their product. The experienced defective device attorneys at Raizner Slania can help you hold these companies responsible. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Ellis County Hailstorm

Raizner Slania Files Bad Faith Insurance Lawsuit On Behalf of Local Car Wash

Raizner Slania filed a bad faith insurance lawsuit on behalf of a local Texas car wash against Columbia Mutual Insurance Company and Texas Insurance Claims Service, Inc. after its hail damage claim was wrongfully denied under Texas law.

April 2015 Ellis County Hailstorm

In April 2015, a severe hailstorm swept through Ellis County and substantially damaged the plaintiff’s property. The hailstorm caused damage to the roof, exterior, and interior of the property. Immediately upon discovering the damage, the plaintiff filed an insurance claim with Columbia for the cost of repairs to be covered under its policy.

In response to the claim, Columbia assigned representatives, adjusters, consultants, and agents to the plaintiff’s claim that were inadequately and improperly trained to handle this type of claim. Specifically, Columbia assigned the claim to Texas Insurance Claims Services who in turn assigned it to an employee.

Both Texas Insurance and the employee failed to perform a thorough investigation of the property. The employee refused to hire any qualified experts to appropriately assess the damage. In addition, the employee delayed the claims process and failed to communicate with the plaintiff.

Columbia relied solely on Texas Insurance Claims Service and the employee’s haphazard investigation of the property to determine what amounts, if any, to pay on the plaintiff’s claim. As a result, Columbia wrongfully denied and grossly underpaid the plaintiff’s claim for property repairs.

Columbia and Texas Insurance Claims Service Violated the Texas Insurance Code

Our client cites numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code, including failure to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim, failure to implement reasonable standards for the investigation of a claim, and failure to promptly provide a reasonable explanation for the denial of a claim.

Raizner Slania: Hailstorm Damage Lawyers

If your insurance carrier wrongfully denied a Texas hailstorm damage claim, you need an experienced team of insurance lawyers to help you get the compensation you deserve. Call the hailstorm damage lawyers at Raizner Slania today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. We can help you understand your legal options and pursue compensation on your behalf.

3M Bair Hugger Lawsuit Attorneys

Raizner Slania Files 3M Bair Hugger Lawsuit on Behalf of Michigan Couple

Raizner Slania filed a 3M Bair Hugger lawsuit on behalf of a Michigan couple after the wife suffered a severe infection from the device. The couple believes manufacturers 3M Company and Arizant Healthcare were negligent in failing to warn them of the dangers associated with the device.

In December 2014, the plaintiff underwent a left total knee replacement surgery in which the Bair Hugger warming blanket was used throughout the scope of the procedure. As a direct result of using the Bair Hugger, contaminants were introduced into her open surgical wound, causing her to develop a periprosthetic joint infection (PJI). The pathogen was identified as streptococcus bovis.

Streptococcus bovis, or S. bovis, is a gram-positive bacteria associated with endocarditis, or the inflammation of the inner layer of the heart, and colorectal cancer. As a result of the infection, the plaintiff was forced to undergo multiple irrigation and debridements with hardware exchanges, aspirations, wound vac application, PICC line antibiotics, and long-term antibiotics.

Not only has the plaintiff suffered physically, but she has also suffered economically, due to extensive medical bills. The plaintiff’s husband suffered from a loss of services and a loss of consortium as a result of his wife’s Bair Hugger infection.

The Michigan couple believes the Bair Hugger is defective in design and manufacture and that the manufacturers committed consumer fraud and/or unfair and deceptive trade practices under Michigan law by selling the devices.

What Is The Bair Hugger?

The Bair Hugger is a heating blanket used to regulate body temperature during surgery. The device contains a pump that pushes air through a blanket draped over the patient, dispersing the pumped air over the patient through tiny holes in the blanket. Unfortunately for patients, it is now believed the pump system can suck in airborne contaminants, push them over the patient’s body, and force them into open surgical wounds, causing infections.

Raizner Slania: 3M Bair Hugger Lawsuit Attorneys

If you underwent a hip or knee joint replacement surgery within the last five years and suffered a post-surgical infection, you may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries. Call the experienced 3M Bair Hugger lawsuit Attorneys at Raizner Slania today to learn your legal options and protect your rights.