Month: January 2018

Hurricane Harvey Wind Claim

Medical Office Owner Files Bad Faith Insurance Lawsuit After Hurricane Harvey

Raizner Slania LLP has filed a bad faith insurance lawsuit on behalf of a Houston medical office owner against Acceptance Indemnity Insurance Company after its insurance claim was wrongfully denied.

Acceptance has a history in Texas of conducting arbitrary, outcome-oriented investigations intended to deny legitimate claims. Despite Acceptance (and its parent company, IAT Insurance Group) collecting substantial amounts each year from Texas in premiums, Acceptance has intentionally shielded itself from regulation by the Texas Department of Insurance by remaining a non-admitted foreign surplus lines carrier.

Instead, the company rewards claim representatives and consultants who identify grounds to exclude property damage claims under their policies, in violation of Texas law and the provisions within the insurance contract. It is for these reasons that Acceptance/IAT Insurance Group has been sued many times in the last few years in Texas with continual allegations of bad faith, fraud, and misrepresentations being levied against it. Acceptance often settles cases and requires stringent “confidentiality agreements,” so the wronged policyholders are not permitted to tell their stories.

Hurricane Harvey Devastates Texas

Hurricane Harvey came ashore on August 25, 2017 as category 4 hurricane. Our client’s property suffered substantial wind damage from Hurricane Harvey. Immediately upon discovering the damage, our client filed an insurance claim with Acceptance.

Because Acceptance does not have a single employee in Texas, they assigned The Artisan Works Group to handle the claim. Although Texas law provides that an insurer has a “non-delegable duty” to responsibly handle claims, delegate is precisely what foreign insurance entities like Acceptance do on a regular basis. Artisan Works commenced its investigation by assigning the claim to a local adjuster.

The local adjuster observed that hurricane force winds ripped up the roof seams, causing “severe” saturation to the roofing system and leaking into the interior of the building. The adjuster strongly recommended a full roof replacement due to the wind damage, replacement of ceiling tiles (in affected rooms), and significant repair to the drywall and insulation (above the flood line). Subsequently, Acceptance asked the adjuster to revise his estimate on two separate occasions. Ignoring the obvious damages already conceded in writing, the adjuster and Artisan Works Group did what they were ordered to do by Acceptance and lowballed the claim.

Acceptance derailed the claim process, contending the water entry was not due to a storm created opening and that only a roof repair was warranted despite blatant evidence of the roof caving in. Without consulting any experts, Acceptance refused to pay the claim. Acceptance’s refusal to pay for necessary repairs has crippled our client’s ability to operate its business.

Acceptance Engaged In Deceptive And Unfair Trade Practices

Our client cites numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code, alleging Acceptance failed to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim and that Acceptance misrepresented the insurance policy under which it affords coverage to the policyholder.

Get Help With Your Hurricane Harvey Wind Claim

Hurricane Harvey caused billions of dollars of property damage. Insurance companies are desperate to limit Hurricane Harvey claims payouts. If your insurance company isn’t being straight with you, call the experienced insurance lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP today. We can help with your Hurricane Harvey wind claim and make sure you get rightful compensation under your policy. Call us today to see how we can help.

Harris County Insurance Lawyers

Harris County Apartment Complex Owner Files Insurance Lawsuit

Raizner Slania has filed an insurance lawsuit on behalf of a Harris County apartment complex owner against AmRisc LLC, Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, Indian Harbor Insurance Company, QBE Specialty Insurance Company, Steadfast Insurance Company, General Security Indemnity Company of Arizona, United Specialty Insurance Company, Lexington Insurance Company, Princeton Excess and Surplus Lines Insurance Company, and International Insurance Company of Hannover.

January 2017 Windstorm

On January 20, 2017, a windstorm ripped through Harris County. The windstorm caused significant damage to our client’s apartment complex, including damage to building components like light fixtures, windows, drywall, flooring, and the roofing system. Immediately upon discovering the damage, the plaintiff filed an insurance claim and asked that the cost of repairs be covered pursuant to the policy.

The insurance carriers, through AmRisc, assigned adjusters, consultants, and agents to the plaintiff’s file that were inadequate and improperly trained. Specifically, the claim was delegated to AmRisc to assign the claims to Vericlaim as the third party adjusting firm to handle the claims. Vericlaim, in turn, assigned the claim to an internal adjuster. The internal adjuster was assigned as the adjuster with decision-making authority over the plaintiff’s claim under the policy. Vericlaim and the internal adjuster conducted an unreasonable and inadequate investigation of the property and wrongfully denied any windstorm damage.

Despite clear evidence to the contrary, Vericlaim and its internal adjuster claimed the damages were not storm related, and instead were a result of normal wear and tear, deferred maintenance, construction deficiencies, and other excuses. Additionally, they confirmed damages to thousands of shingles and other areas of the property, but instead of providing full indemnity, they understated the damages and admitted only spotty repairs.

The carriers engaged in and ratified this improper claims conduct and ultimately approved a gross underpayment of the contractual damages. This underpayment omitted important facts, physical evidence, and meteorological data supporting the plaintiff’s claim. The Carriers instead unreasonably blamed the loss on causes other than wind to avoid contractual responsibilities and to save themselves in excess of $1,000,000.

The Carriers Acted In Bad Faith

Our client cites numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code, including failure to adopt and implement reasonable standards for prompt investigation of claims, refusal to pay a claim without conducting a reasonable investigation, and misrepresentation of the insurance policy under which it affords property coverage to the plaintiff.

Harris County Insurance Lawyers

If you are an apartment complex owner and your insurance claim was wrongfully denied or grossly underpaid, the Harris County insurance lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP can help. Call us today for a free consultation to review your case.

MRSA Infection Lawsuits

Virginia Couple File Deep Joint Infection Lawsuit Against Bair Hugger Manufacturers

Raizner Slania has filed a deep joint infection lawsuit against 3M Company and Arizant Healthcare on behalf of a Virginia couple after the husband sustained an infection caused by the Bair Hugger warming blanket. The couple alleges 3M and Arizant failed to warn them of the infection risks associated with the medical device.

In April 2015, the plaintiff underwent artificial joint surgery in which the Bair Hugger warming blanket was used throughout the scope of his procedure. The Bair Hugger system is used to help regulate body temperature during operations. By regulating body temperature, doctors can reduce a patient’s bleeding risk and shorten hospital stays. However, the design of the Bair Hugger takes contaminants from the operating room air and forces them into open surgical wounds.

Contaminants introduced by the Bair Hugger during the plaintiff’s surgery caused him to develop a deep joint infection (DJI). The plaintiff had to undergo extensive treatment to fight the infection including irrigation and debridement with poly exchange, PICC line, and oral antibiotics. Additionally, the plaintiff required physical therapy and the use of a walker.

DJIs are more difficult to treat than other types of infections. Under normal circumstances, the presence of infection-causing bacteria in the body triggers the immune system. The immune system then releases antibodies to fight the infection. However, bacteria present on artificial joints don’t trigger an immune system response; therefore, the body doesn’t release any antibodies. This means the infection can grow unchecked by the immune system.

The Virginia couple believes the Bair Hugger device is defective in both its design and manufacture. The couple also alleges 3M and Arizant committed consumer fraud and/or unfair and deceptive trade practices under Virginia state law.

Deep Joint Infection Lawyers

Patients have a right to know all of the risks associated with procedures before deciding on treatment. 3M and Arizant failed to warn patients of the infection risks associated with using its Bair Hugger system and now thousands of patients are suffering from life-threatening infections. If you or someone you love has a deep joint infection from a hip or knee surgery performed within the last five years, Raizner Slania LLP can help you understand your legal options. Call us today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.

Bair Hugger E. Coli Infection

Raizner Slania Files Bair Hugger Staph Infection Lawsuit on Behalf of Washington Woman

Raizner Slania LLP has filed a Bair Hugger staph infection lawsuit on behalf of a Washington woman against 3M Company and Arizant Healthcare. The woman believes the Bair Hugger is defective in its design and manufacture.

In April 2012, the plaintiff underwent an artificial joint surgery in which the Bair Hugger warming blanket was used throughout the procedure to regulate body temperature. The Bair Hugger is composed of two parts – the first is a machine that sucks in air and heats it and the second is a blanket with holes that is draped over the blanket. The heated air gets pushed into the blanket and out of the holes, delivering warm air to the patient’s body.

However, this also allows contaminants in the operating room air to be introduced into a patient’s open surgical wound. As a result of the Bair Hugger system being used throughout the scope of her procedure, the patient developed a periprosthetic joint infection, also known as a deep joint infection. The pathogens identified were staphylococcus aureus and gram-positive cocci.

Most people know staphylococcus aureus as the common Staph infection. However, while most know about Staph infections that occur on the skin, Staph infections in artificial joints are incredibly difficult to treat. A Staph infection can cause a number of serious conditions, including sepsis and pneumonia.

In order to treat the infection caused by the Bair Hugger device, the plaintiff was forced to undergo extensive medical treatment, including multiple multi-staged revision arthroplasties, placement and removal of multiple antibiotic spacers, multiple irrigation and debridements with extensive synovectomies and polyethylene liner exchanges, and PICC line antibiotics. Additionally, the plaintiff required skilled nursing care and suffered additional complications from undergoing multiple major surgeries and using long-term antibiotics.

Not only has our client suffered physically, but also economically with cost of the additional medical treatments. Our client believes neither 3M nor Arizant ever warned her about the infection risks of the device and the companies are in breach of express warranty.

Don’t Wait To Get Help With Your Bair Hugger Staph Infection Lawsuit

If you have suffered a deep joint infection after a hip or knee joint surgery within the last five years, the experienced Bair Hugger lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP can help. There are time limitations on these types of claims, so don’t wait to call us and schedule a free consultation.

Bair Hugger Deep Joint Infection Lawyers

Raizner Slania Files Bair Hugger Deep Joint Infection Lawsuit On Behalf of California Woman

Raizner Slania LLP has filed a Bair Hugger deep joint infection lawsuit on behalf of a California woman against 3M Company and Arizant Healthcare. The woman alleges 3M and Arizant failed to warn her of the infection risk associated with the Bair Hugger warming blanket.

In June 2017, the plaintiff underwent surgery in which the Bair Hugger warming blanket was used throughout the scope of her procedure. The Bair Hugger regulates body temperature by sucking in air from the operating room, heating it, and dispersing the air over the patient via a blanket with holes. Most patients experience hypothermia during surgery, which can increase bleeding risks and lengthen hospital stays. Regulating body temperature helps improve patient outcomes, however, the design of the Bair Hugger exposes patients to dangerous bacteria.

Contaminants in the operating room air are sucked in by the Bair Hugger and forced into a patient’s open surgical wound. Contaminants introduced into the plaintiff’s open surgical wounds caused her to develop a periprosthetic joint infection, also known as a deep joint infection (DJI). The pathogens identified were methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus and rare Gram positive cocci.

Most people refer to methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus as “Staph.” While staph infections are common on the skin, they are incredibly difficult to treat when contracted internally as joint infections. The presence of bacteria in the body triggers an immune system response; however, bacteria present on an artificial joint doesn’t trigger a response. This allows infections to develop unchecked, causing severe complications.

Because of the difficulty treating deep joint infections, the plaintiff was forced to undergo extensive medical treatment, including irrigation and debridement with exchange of the polyethylene component, extensive debridement lavage, placement of bio-absorbable antibiotic beads, and PICC line antibiotics. Unfortunately, the plaintiff also suffered further complications from her additional treatment, including acute diverticulitis, anemia of acute infection, and gastrointestinal bleeding resulting in additional hospital stays.

The plaintiff suffered greatly from the infection caused by the Bair Hugger. Not only did she suffer physically, but also financially via the cost of the extensive medical treatment. The plaintiff believes the Bair Hugger warming blanket is defective in both design and manufacture and that 3M and Arizant are in breach of express warranty.

Bair Hugger Deep Joint Infection Lawyers

If you suffered a deep joint infection after a hip or knee surgery within the last five years, you may be able to file a claim against the manufacturers. The experienced defective device attorneys at Raizner Slania LLP can analyze your situation and help you understand your legal options. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

Ordinance and Law coverage

What Is Included In Ordinance and Law Coverage?

Rebuilding after a natural disaster is a long and complicated process. For Hurricane Harvey victims, numerous issues are slowing down the rebuilding process and forcing them to pay out of pocket for certain expenses. For example, many Texas property owners are suddenly facing nuances in their insurance policies regarding Ordinance and Law coverage.

What Is Ordinance and Law Coverage? 

Ordinance and Law coverage is a type of insurance that reimburses property owners for the loss incurred by the enforcement of local building codes that regulate the reconstruction of damaged buildings. There are several types of ordinance and law coverage and each protects against certain types of damages.

Ordinance and Law Coverage A

Your insurance policy covers the damaged portions of your property, but you actually need protection for the undamaged portions too because insurance companies will only pay the replacement costs for the portion of the property that was damaged. For example, many properties sustained significant damage during and after Hurricane Harvey. If a covered peril such as wind damaged 50% of building, the insurance companies will cover the cost of replacing that 50%. But property owners can’t just replace part of a building. Even though half of the building was not damaged, the entire building must be rebuilt, and only the damaged half is covered by insurance. With Ordinance and Law Coverage A, policyholders are also insuring the undamaged parts of their property. This prevents policyholders from paying out of pocket for repair and replacement costs.

Ordinance and Law Coverage B

Under some local buildings codes and ordinances, demolition of the undamaged portions of a property may be required. If 75% of your property was damaged, the City of Houston may require you to demolish the remaining 25%. While demolition may not seem like much, older buildings that contain pollutants or building materials that require special clean up. Ordinance and Law Coverage B will cover the cost of demolition of undamaged parts of a building if required by local building ordinances.

Ordinance and Law Coverage C

The city of Houston and most other municipalities have strict building codes to which all new buildings must adhere. These building codes are regularly updated to reflect changes in materials, engineering, and manufacturing. The codes serve to ensure all buildings are built safely for property owners; however, they are not retroactively applied to buildings already built.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, property owners of older buildings not only have to rebuild, they have to rebuild in adherence to updated building codes. While this might not seem like a big deal, the reality is that for buildings ten years old or older, a lot has changed. Property owners will be required to use more expensive materials and supplies and might need to update components like the HVAC, insulation, electrical wiring, ventilation, heating, or plumbing systems. For nearly all property owners, rebuilding under updated building codes will be more expensive. Property owners will end up paying out of pocket unless they have Ordinance and Law coverage.

Sublimits In Your Policy

Always remember that insurance companies are foremost a business trying to make as much profit as possible. To help avoid large payouts, many insurance companies make sublimits, or a maximum amount they will pay for certain coverage. Therefore, while you may have Ordinance and Law coverage, you may also have a sublimit that would only compensate you for a portion of what you would really need to rebuild. Typically, an insurance policy that provides for ordinance and law coverage also contains a submlimit that may be substantially less than the overall policy limits. It is therefore critical that policyholders and their consultants are aware of what repairs should be covered under the standard building limits, and which repairs relate strictly to ordinance and law requirements.

Don’t Wait To Get Help

Commercial insurance is incredibly complicated and sadly many insurance companies use this to their advantage. Insurance companies will use a variety of bad faith tactics to avoid making large payouts. If you are struggling with your insurance company regarding rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey, immediately contact Raizner Slania LLP. Our experienced insurance lawyers have helped victims of bad faith practices across the country. Call us today for a free consultation to review your case. We can answer all of your questions and help you get what you are rightfully owed under your policy.