Yesterday afternoon, Jean Niven was presenting an in-house Merlin Law Group continuing legal education seminar about expert witnesses and the exacting standards for their allowance to testify in federal court. During the presentation, I thought about how a lost insurance coverage case1 could have ended differently if the policyholder’s expert witnesses had been allowed to testify about the damages. Jean is our firm’s expert witness authority. She works with our clients’ expert witnesses to make sure they are able to testify.
Continue Reading Insurance Coverage Cases Can Be Won or Lost Based on Expert Witnesses and The Preparation of Their Reports and Testimony

In first-party property cases, it is common that an insured’s expert goes to a property after the loss to investigate. During the investigation, an expert may ask the insured questions that are necessary to formulate that expert’s opinions, such as the observable condition of the property before the insured’s loss, or which items have been visibly damaged. This is because, often, the expert has never been to the property and must formulate an opinion about the cause and/or extent of the damage following the loss.
Continue Reading Can Experts Rely on an Insured’s Statement in Formulating their Opinions?

Generally, in Florida, when there is a difference of opinions between each party’s expert, the jury gets to decide who’s right, not the judge. But there has been a trend by insurance companies in the first-party property context of taking their expert’s report before the judge and arguing, in essence, “our expert’s right, the insured’s is wrong, so find in favor of the insurance company as a matter of law.”
Continue Reading Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment Where Battle of Experts Created a Jury Question

Insurance companies hire all kinds of experts to help them for all kinds of reasons. The problem is that some experts are not honest and never try to find the truth. The other problem is some policyholders or their under-financed attorneys do not hire experts or very good experts.
Continue Reading Experts Regarding Causation Can Be More Important Than Witnesses — or, Don’t Believe Your Lying Eyes When Your Insurance Company Hires an Expert

A recent case filed in the Western District of Texas highlights the importance of retaining experts to assist in evaluating the cause of loss early in the claim process. In White Lodging Services Corporation et al v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company,1 a hotel development and management company filed suit against Liberty Mutual over a collapse claim that arose during the construction of a hotel. The policyholder had a builders’ risk insurance policy issued by Liberty Mutual.
Continue Reading Collapse Claim Highlights the Importance of Retaining Experts Early in the Claim Process