First Party Property Insurance Cases are handled by insurance defense firms in certain ways. Here is a look at how most are handled, starting with answering the lawsuit.
If the attorney for the plaintiff/insured has not sent a proper notice, the insurance lawyer may want to file a verified answer seeking an abatement until such notice has been properly received. Although proper notices do not have to be detailed, they do need to comply with all the elements set forth in Chapter 542 of the Texas Insurance Code. Once the defense firm is armed with a specific number that the claimant is seeking, the defense attorney can better evaluate the potential range of damages the insurance company is having to deal with.
Because insurance carriers are among the least popular defendants in courts across the country, it is important to take advantage of any rules to ensure a favorable forum. Cases that are originally filed in state court may be removed to federal court where there is diversity of citizenship and an amount in controversy of more than $75,000. In Texas, where state trial court judges are selected through partisan elections, federal forums will often be more favorable. Federal judges with lifetime appointments often have more time and staff available to consider dispositive motions. In addition, jurors are drawn from a broader area, which generally results in more rural, conservative jurors. For these reasons, attorneys for plaintiffs may include a Texas-resident adjuster as a defendant to defeat diversity. It is important to consider whether the case can still be removed by arguing that the adjuster was improperly joined and her citizenship should be disregarded. For cases governed by Section 542A of the Texas Insurance Code (which applies to weather-related claims), the carrier has the option to elect to assume the liability for acts of its individual adjusters. Such an election may or may not mean that the individual adjuster is not properly named as a defendant. This election must occur prior to suit being filed to render the lawsuit removable, so the window to elect liability is short.