Fire & Casualty
Ward, Hocker & Thornton, PLLC (WHT) handles all aspects of Fire & Casualty claims. We defend individuals, companies and insurance carriers from first and third-party claims, we pursue subrogation claims on behalf of insurance carriers, and we work with the insurance carriers to answer coverage issues.
In the litigation context, regardless of whether it is defense or subrogation, WHT knows the importance of quickly and accurately determining the cause and origin of the loss. A thorough initial examination helps to identify other potential explanations for the loss, it may entirely rule out a cause, or it may lead to an acceptance of fault and a quick resolution. It also helps to ensure that the evidence is examined on scene and as close to its original post-loss condition as possible. As such, WHT works with clients to contact and retain investigators and engineers with the experience needed to investigate the particular loss. Often, the information gathered in the first few weeks after a loss dictate the direction of the claim; typically turning the focus to a contractor who performed work or a manufacturer who supplied an item. It is at this point that Fire & Casualty claims have the potential to mesh with Product Liability, Premises Liability and other practice areas.
In the coverage analysis arena, WHT works with insurance clients to analyze the scope and amount of coverage for both first-party and third-party claims arising from Fire & Casualty. Our attorneys are experienced with the underwriting process, with the terminology used in personal and commercial polices, and with analyzing and explaining how a court has or would likely apply provisions in the insurance agreement to a particular loss. Accurately and quickly assessing these issues is often critical for our insurance clients because we provide can provide a cost-effective model for handling a particular claim or class of claims.
WHT works with clients in the pre-litigation context to help identify groups of claims and potential coverage. We help establish criteria for evaluating potentially questionable claims and excluded claims. If necessary, WHT files Declaratory Judgment Actions in Federal or State Court to obtain a ruling on coverage. The intent, in both the pre-litigation and litigation phases, is to identify which claims can be recognized and in what amount.
WHT is also experienced in situations where there are some covered claims and some excluded claims. WHT works to identify the two categories of claims and it helps the insurance clients adjust losses according. This is typically done when there are multiple claims stemming from a product that has been used and possibly causing damage to many or if there is a reoccurring fact-pattern that needs clarification. Some examples are computer software distributed nationally and building materials used in construction. Depending on the coverage trigger and the injury alleged, the products may give rise to claims which are covered and excluded.
Lastly, WHT also handles Fire & Casualty claims when neither liability nor coverage is in question and the focus is on the nature and extent of damage. In these situations, WHT plays a role in examining the reason for the loss and provides insight in selecting a qualified expert to assist. Our attorneys often create a team of engineers, accountants and other professionals to fully assess the real and personal property claims, the business interruption loss and expense, and/or any extra living expenses. WHT has experience documenting residential losses and commercial losses up to and beyond $20 million dollars.
Please contact us if you have a Fire & Casualty case or question.