Top 10 Ways to Get Yourself Sued
The purpose of this paper is to make sure that I continue to have an active practice representing insurance adjusters in litigation involving insureds. As a result, this paper is dedicated to informing insurance adjusters as to how they can make sure that they will always have lawsuits filed against them. It is our fervent hope that you will seriously consider these measures to expose yourself to significant liability!
- Make the determination as to whether an event constitutes a covered loss before the company determines whether a claim is covered
- Use derogatory terms when compiling your claim notes
- Use opinionated comments when labeling photographs for a claim file
- Don’t explain the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost coverage
- Make deletions, additions, or modifications to a claim file if you discover that you originally notated something improperly
- Don’t have policyholders sign proofs of loss upon the final adjustment of any claim
- Perform a cursory examination of the insured property
- Don’t explain the basis of a claim evaluation
- Don’t document when you receive the claim
- Don’t document the inspection of the loss
If you consistently follow these practices, you can be assured that sooner, if not later, you will end up in litigation. Fortunately, even adjusters who do not work to get themselves sued sometimes find themselves in the midst of litigation. However, those adjusters who avoid these practices significantly lessen their chances of finding themselves in our (lawyer’s) office.
MICHAEL W. JOHNSTON
Michael W. Johnston is the founding partner of the law firm Johnston Legal Group PC. He graduated with honors from Trinity University and Baylor Law School where he was an associate editor of the Baylor Law Review. For the past 32 years, Mr. Johnston has been a civil litigator concentrating his practice in insurance, consumer, personal injury, and commercial litigation. He is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is also Board Certified in the field of Consumer & Commercial Law (which includes Insurance Law) by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
In 1997, Mr. Johnston was inducted into the Who’s Who of American Lawyers. He is a member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, and the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas, as well as a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. He is an approved attorney for a number of organizations, including being designated as a recommended attorney by A.M. Best.
Mr. Johnston is formerly a Texas Wesleyan School of Law Adjunct Professor of Insurance Law. He is an AV rated Pre-eminent Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory. Mr. Johnston is also a Strafford Insurance Law Advisory Board Member for the Texas Insurance Law and Litigation Alert Newsletter.
Mr. Johnston is licensed to practice before all state courts in Texas and Oklahoma, the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the United States Court of Claims and the United States District Courts for the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas, Tarrant County Bar Association, Defense Research Institute and National Association of Fire Investigators.
Mr. Johnston has been designated as an Attorney of Excellence by the Fort Worth Business Press Top 100 Attorneys in Tarrant County. For the past 7 years, he has been designated as a “Super Lawyer” by Texas Monthly and Super Lawyer Magazine with special designation as one of the top insurance lawyers. He has been recognized as a Top Lawyer by Fort Worth, Texas: The City’s Magazine in the areas of Business/Commercial Litigation; Consumer; Insurance and General Litigation. He has also been recognized as a Top Lawyer in Houston by HTexas Magazine in the area of Civil Litigation, as well as a Top Attorney in San Antonio by Scene in S.A. Monthly.
Mr. Johnston is a frequent speaker at law schools, bar associations and industry groups on topics involving insurance disputes, commercial litigation, and consumer matters. He has also served as an expert witness on matters involving "bad faith," the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and the Texas Insurance Code.
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