April 30, 2010

Hydrology Expert Witness On The Science Of Hydrology

In THE PERFECT STORM: The Science Behind Subrogating Catastrophic Flood Losses, hydrology expert witness Richard Van Bruggen writes on the science of hydrology:

Hydrology is defined as “a science dealing with the properties, distribution and circulation of water on the surface of the land, in the soil, in underlying rocks, and in the atmosphere.” This is, in fact, a very broad definition encompassing many disciplines relating to water. When encountering a flood loss, it is critical to engage subrogation counsel and an expert hydrologist immediately. Piecing together the pieces of an unseen puzzle is quite complicated. It becomes somewhat simpler, if you can combine the technical advances of hydrology and hydrologic computer models with anecdotal testimony of witnesses and physical evidence such as high water marks on buildings, automobiles, or other landmarks present at the time of the flood. Such “hard” evidence not only makes hydrologic models and simulations more reliable and accurate, but they also make them more believable.

April 29, 2010

Annuities Expert Witness On Evaluating Annuities Part 2

In Annuities for Dummies: A Buyers Guide, annuities expert witness Stephen George writes:

Generally, annuities are unconditionally backed by insurance companies. By investing conservatively and hedging their exposure to stock and bond market fluctuations, insurance companies can guarantee savers a minimum interest regardless of market down-turns. If indexes rise during the annuity term, the annuity owner shares the gain with the insurance company without risk to his premium deposit. If the market drops, the owner gets a minimum guaranteed interest.

April 28, 2010

Brain Injury Expert Witness Testifies In Baby-Sitter Case

Prosecutors rested their case Thursday against a Billings, MT, woman charged with aggravated assault after an expert in child abuse told the District Court jury that the 8-month-old victim’s injuries could not have happened from an accidental fall. Dr. Wilbur Smith, a nationally known expert in child abuse and child brain injuries, testified at the trial of Nevada Ugalde, who is accused of causing severe injuries to the child she was baby-sitting on June 11, 2008. Smith said he determined that the injuries suffered by the child, Isaiah Napier, were the result of abuse.

The brain injury expert witness said the child will suffer some permanent brain damage due to the severity of the injuries. Ugalde’s defense attorney has said the woman will testify at her trial. Ugalde denies harming the child, saying the child fell out of a crib.

Excerpted from billingsgazette.com.

April 27, 2010

Insurance Agency Expert Witness On Recission Part 2

In his article Insurers: To Rescind Or Not to Rescind?, insurance agency expert witness Akos Swierkiewicz writes:

Misrepresentation or concealment is material if it affects the underwriting decision of the insurer. For example, the premium would have been higher had the insurer been aware of the true and complete facts.

Property-casualty policies typically include conditions pertaining to the subject of rescission, such as:

• The policy is issued in reliance upon the truth of representations made by the insured.

• The policy is void if the insured intentionally conceals or misrepresents a material fact.

• The insured, by accepting the policy, agrees that the statements in the policy declarations are accurate and complete.


April 26, 2010

Forensic Psychiatry Expert Witness Testifies In Fatal Stabbing Case

Forensic psychiatry expert witness Dr. Montgomery Brower testified today that accused killer John Odgren gave varying accounts of the fatal Lincoln Sudbury High School stabbing to cope with what happened. Odgren, 19, is on trial for first-degree murder for the Jan. 19, 2007 stabbing death of classmate James Alenson, 15. His defense attorneys do not dispute that Odgren, then 16, fatally stabbed Alenson, but say he was legally insane when the crime occurred.

Brower is the third defense expert witness to testify Odgren was out of his mind at the time of the stabbing and is not criminally responsible for his actions.

For more, see bostonherald.com.

April 25, 2010

Hydrology Expert Witness On Hydrologic Modeling

In THE PERFECT STORM: The Science Behind Subrogating Catastrophic Flood Losses, hydrology expert witness Richard Van Bruggen writes on hydrologic simulations and modeling:

Frequently, even a storm event of historic proportions might not have caused damage to your insured’s property had it not been for a specific existing condition, such as a levy in disrepair, clogged sewer drains, culverts in need of maintenance, malfunctioning flap valves, etc. While it is easy to show that a drain was not kept clean or that a culvert was left in a clogged condition, it is another thing altogether to prove to a jury that the condition actually caused the flood damage for which the insurance company has paid and you are now subrogating. A flood level of two feet might require some cosmetic cleanup and minor repairs to a fleet of stored vehicles. Six inches higher and you could be looking at crushing all of the cars. This is where modeling becomes indispensable.

There are computer models that use rainfall depth-duration-frequency data and watershed characteristics, such as the Time of Concentration, in order to develop peak flows (Qs). It is usually the case that stream flow gage data is either of a short time record or is unavailable altogether, whereas rain gages are more plentiful and typically have longer periods of record. It is by way of a Hydrologic Analysis that we determine what the design flows are for storm drain systems, bridges and culverts.


April 24, 2010

Annuities Expert Witness On Evaluating Annuities Part 1

In Annuities for Dummies: A Buyers Guide, annuities expert witness Stephen George writes:

Buying annuities requires studying features and comparison shopping. Annuities are not considered investments, but evaluating them requires similar comparisons of safe returns against other investments like CD’s, money market funds, savings accounts, high grade bonds and treasury bills over similar terms. If held to maturity, annuities can avoid probate while guaranteeing no risk to principal, income for life, minimum interest returns, upside-only index interest participation, immediate interest bonus, and legal insulation from creditors in some states. Many people buy annuities to protect their safe money, or money they cannot afford to lose.

April 23, 2010

Insurance Agency Expert Witness On Recission Part 1

In his article Insurers: To Rescind Or Not to Rescind?, insurance agency expert witness Akos Swierkiewicz writes:

Rescission of an insurance policy is serious business. Such action could result in serious financial difficulties to insureds, especially if it occurs after a major loss. Furthermore, costly and protracted litigation almost inevitably follows to contest the rescission.

Fortunately, insureds and their brokers can minimize the potential for rescission by simply exercising greater care to ascertain the accuracy of underwriting information, and by providing all material information to insurers. Also, rescission decisions are made by insurers only if they are convinced that they have adequate justification for them.

An insurer may rescind its policy in the event of material misrepresentation or concealment of a fact by the insured. Misrepresentation is false statement of a fact by the insured. Concealment is the neglect to reveal a fact that the insured knows and ought to communicate to the insurer.

April 22, 2010

Computer Expert Witness On Working Professionals Part 3

In Are You Ready to Be An Expert Witness? computer expert witness Judd Robbins writes: "The fact is, judges and juries aren't fond of 'professional' expert witnesses, who go from trial to trial as their primary means of support. But they do like working professionals who have an expertise in their fields, who maintain their day jobs, but who also know and understand the legal process."

Robbins advises professionals who want to get into the expert witness field that they need to become familiar with the three primary ways expert witnesses work with attorneys:

(3 of 3) Opinions -- In some cases, you will then use the information from the assessment stage to form an opinion, and then you will be called upon to deliver that opinion in court on the witness stand or in a recorded deposition. In many more instances, however, your work will take place entirely behind the scenes as an expert who never testifies.

Robbins is the author of Expert Witness Training (www.expert-witnesses.net). Excerpted from marketwire.com.

April 21, 2010

Medical Expert Witnesses On Tort Reform Part 3 of 3

Medical expert witnesses at Medical Opinions Associates write on tort reform:

Defensive medicine is the hardest to deal with because its impact is difficult to calculate. There is no doubt that there are more medical tests being ordered for fear of medical liability then there would be otherwise. The question is what is the impact. Nobody really knows (GAO 03-836). We do know that medical insurance costs average about 3.2% of average physician revenues. We also know that 5.5% of physicians cause 57.3% of all medical malpractice payouts to patients. Do we approach the problem, as some have suggested, by not interfering with tort claims and instead going after the few transgressors?

Much study still needs to be done, but the end game will not change. As a society, we will have to decide whether we want to prevent or limit the legitimate claims of citizens damaged by medical errors by making it harder to obtain compensation for those errors, or insulate physicians and thus reduce the motivation for defensive medicine in the hope that the cost savings will justify the lost opportunities.

April 19, 2010

Risk Management Expert Witness On Expert Assignments Part 9

In When the Phone Rings ... Twelve Questions for Prospective Expert Witness Assignments, risk management expert witness Kevin M. Quinley, CPCU, ARM, AIC, writes:

(10) How voluminous are the materials that need to be reviewed? It may matter to you whether the answer is 200 pages or six bankers’ boxes. Again, consider the deadline for submitting expert reports in conjunction with the estimated amount of material to be reviewed. The relationship between these two may impact your interest and ability to take the case, especially if you are stretched thin juggling other commitments. Extensive document review under a tight time frame may impact your willingness to take the case, your ability to devote the needed time to it, and the pricing level you quote for the engagement.

Kevin M. Quinley is a leading authority on insurance issues, including risk management, claims, bad faith, coverages and litigation management. He is the author of more than 600 articles and 10 books. You can reach him through http://www.insuranceexpertnetwork.com/.

April 18, 2010

Intellectual Property Expert Witness On Working Professionals Part 2

In Are You Ready to Be An Expert Witness? intellectual property expert witness Judd Robbins writes: "The fact is, judges and juries aren't fond of 'professional' expert witnesses, who go from trial to trial as their primary means of support. But they do like working professionals who have an expertise in their fields, who maintain their day jobs, but who also know and understand the legal process."

Robbins advises professionals who want to get into the expert witness field that they need to become familiar with the three primary ways expert witnesses work with attorneys:

(2 of 3) Assessment -- Attorneys will sometimes hire you to assess the technical merits of either or both side's claims. Your job is to make an objective assessment about the potential strengths or weaknesses of those claims, giving your client the ability to use that information to either prove their case or disprove their opponent's case.

Robbins is the author of Expert Witness Training (www.expert-witnesses.net). Excerpted from marketwire.com.

April 17, 2010

Computer Expert Witness On Working Professionals Part 1

In Are You Ready to Be An Expert Witness? computer expert witness Judd Robbins writes: "The fact is, judges and juries aren't fond of 'professional' expert witnesses, who go from trial to trial as their primary means of support. But they do like working professionals who have an expertise in their fields, who maintain their day jobs, but who also know and understand the legal process."

Robbins advises professionals who want to get into the expert witness field that they need to become familiar with the three primary ways expert witnesses work with attorneys:

(1 of 3) Investigation -- As an expert witness, you study the technical details of materials, accidents or other events. You might run tests, create reconstructions, or research books and journals for writings on the same subject matter as your case. Your primary role in the beginning stage of an investigation is to learn the technical facts of the case and to explain to your retaining attorney the application of those facts.

Robbins is the author of Expert Witness Training (www.expert-witnesses.net). Excerpted from marketwire.com.

April 16, 2010

Medical Expert Witnesses On Tort Reform Part 2 of 3

Medical expert witnesses at Medical Opinions Associates write on tort reform:

Well, then, what about medical malpractice insurance premiums? Premiums have increased and there is no doubt about it. The question is WHY have premiums increased. There are authorities who have looked at this issue and concluded that medical malpractice insurance premiums rise NOT just because of increased frequency of litigation or jury awards, but to compensate for poor insurance company investment returns. Robert Hunter, Insurance Director for the Consumer Federation of America recently pointed this out. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (formerly the U.S. General Accounting Office) has reported this several times, the most relevant being GAO 03-702. GAO reported that multiple factors, including falling investment income and rising reinsurance costs, have contributed to increases in premium rates. In one interesting comparison, the GAO report showed that the premiums insurers charge physicians in different locales have such huge variability that the discrepancy cannot be explained by claims incidence alone. If it is true that other factors contribute to premium increases, then it follows that preventing or limiting medical malpractice awards may not result in corresponding premium decreases.

April 15, 2010

Herbal Medicine Expert Witnesses & Pediatric Cancer Patients

Herbal medicine expert witnesses may opine on herbal medicine, acupuncture, and homeopathy. The Alternative Medicine Blog writes:

Many children with cancer use alternative medicine in their treatment, according to a recent research review. For the review, investigators looked at 28 studies with a total of 3,526 participants (all of whom were children). In 20 of those studies, the researchers found that prevalence of complementary/alternative medicine use ranged anywhere from 6 to 91 percent.

Herbal remedies were found to be the most popular modality in the reviewed studies, followed by therapeutic nutrition and faith-healing. Commonly reported reasons for alternative medicine use included the relief of symptoms, as well as support of ongoing use of conventional cancer treatment (such as chemotherapy).

For more, see about.com.

April 15, 2010

Collection Agencies Expert Witnesses & Your Privacy

Collection agencies expert witnesses may opine on lender liability, debt, and debt collection standards of practice. In Debt Collection Practices: When Hardball Tactics Go Too Far The Privacy Right Clearinghouse writes:

Debt Collectors and Your Privacy

Public embarrassment and the prospect that your personal information might be shared with others are real concerns when dealing with a collection agency. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act includes provisions intended to safeguard privacy.

The FDCPA says discussions about the debt can only be held with (1) the individual, (2) the creditor, (3) an attorney representing one of the parties, and (4) a credit bureau. Public airing of your business intended to shame you into paying a debt is not allowed. Debt collectors:

* Cannot exchange (with other agencies) information about individuals who allegedly owe a debt.
* Cannot distribute a list of alleged debtors to its creditor subscribers.
* Cannot advertise a debt for sale.
* Cannot compile a list of debtors for sale to others.


* Cannot leave messages with third parties, asking them to have the debtor call the collector.

April 15, 2010

Alternative Medicine Expert Witnesses & Complementary Medicine

Alternative medicine expert witnesses may opine on herbal medicine, acupuncture, and homeopathy. Statistics suggest that more Americans are embracing therapies outside of mainstream medicine. In 2007, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 38.3 percent of adults said they used some form of alternative medicine, up from 36 percent five years earlier. Just over 44 percent of people ages 50 to 59 report using complementary medicine.

The lines between conventional and complementary medicine are blurring. Many hospitals and mainstream physicians have adopted these techniques as options for patients. Three examples of such therapies are healing touch, biofeedback and Reiki.

For more, see indystar.com.

April 15, 2010

Pest Control Expert Witnesses & Pesticide Deaths

Pest control expert witnesses may opine regarding pesticide contamination, insects, and insecticides. Pesticides were in the news last week when federal regulators clamped strong new controls on the pesticide believed to have caused the deaths of 4-year-old Rebecca Toone and her 15-month-old sister Rachel the week after an exterminator fumigated rodent holes outside of their Layton, UT, home.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said aluminum and magnesium phosphide fumigants can no longer be used near homes. The agency also expanded the buffer zones required when using it outdoors and imposed a new requirement for posted warnings when the pesticide has been applied. Dr. Gina Solomon who works for the environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, applauded the EPA's steps Wednesday. The expert wrote about the tobacco industry's successful efforts to stymie phosphine restrictions when EPA first proposed tougher standards in 1998. "The announcement today really will increase public safety," she said, calling the EPA's actions swift, decisive and "critically important."

For more, see slttrib.com.

April 15, 2010

Debt Collection Standards Expert Witnesses & Privacy

Debt collection standards expert witnesses may opine on debt, collection agents, and debt collection standards of practice. In Debt Collection Practices: When Hardball Tactics Go Too Far, The Privacy Right Clearinghouse writes:

May a debt collector contact my neighbors or family members about my debt?

Not if the collector knows your name and telephone number and could have contacted you directly. When contacting your family members including minors or neighbors to find out how to locate you, the collector:

* Cannot tell others you owe a debt or discuss details of the account.
* Must identity himself, (by name, but not as a debt collector).
* Must identity the name of the collection agency only if asked.
* Can only contact the party once unless the collection agency has reason to believe the person has new information.
* Cannot leave information about a debt on a third party's answering machine or voice mail service.

Contacts with a spouse, the parent of a minor, a guardian, co-signer, executor, or administrator are considered the same as contacts with the debtor under the FDCPA.

If the situation results in a court judgment being entered against you, the FDCPA allows a collector to contact third parties "as reasonably necessary to effectuate a postjudgment judicial remedy." However, according to the FTC , a debt collector may not send a copy of the judgment to your employer, except as part of a formal service of papers to achieve a garnishment or other remedy.

April 15, 2010

Pesticides Expert Witnesses & Pesticide Residue In Beef

Pesticides expert witnesses may give opinions regarding pesticide contamination which is a topic very much in the news. An internal government audit revealed this week that the U.S. Department of Agriculture routinely fails to protect the American public from veterinary drugs, heavy metals and pesticide residue in beef. According to the audit, released by the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General, the USDA has failed to establish guidelines to monitor harmful substances on cattle carcasses, does not test frequently enough to control residue levels and fails to recall meat that is known to be contaminated with veterinary drugs or chemicals.

The residue testing program is run by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, which is responsible for testing the meat. However, the agency also relies on the Environmental Protection Agency to establish acceptable tolerance levels for human exposure to pesticides and chemicals and the Food and Drug Administration, which sets acceptable levels for antibiotics. According to the audit report, the agencies have shown a lack of commitment on working together to set acceptable standards and reinforce those standards.

For more, see eatdrinkandbe.org.

April 14, 2010

Galvanization Expert Witnesses & Galvanic Corrosion

Galvanization expert witnesses may write reports and opine on galvanic corrosion, pitting corrosion, corrosion fatigue, and more. The Corrosion Technology Laboratory at the NASA Kennedy Space Center defines galvanic corrosion:

Galvanic corrosion is an electrochemical action of two dissimilar metals in the presence of an electrolyte and an electron conductive path. It occurs when dissimilar metals are in contact.

It is recognizable by the presence of a buildup of corrosion at the joint between the dissimilar metals. For example, when aluminum alloys or magnesium alloys are in contact with steel (carbon steel or stainless steel), galvanic corrosion can occur and accelerate the corrosion of the aluminum or magnesium.

For more, see corrosion corrosion.ksc.nasa.gov.

April 14, 2010

Corrosion Expert Witnesses & Pitting Corrosion

Corrosion expert witnesses may write reports and opine on galvanic corrosion, pitting corrosion, corrosion fatigue, and more. The Corrosion Technology Laboratory at the NASA Kennedy Space Center defines pitting corrosion:

Passive metals, such as stainless steel, resist corrosive media and can perform well over long periods of time. However, if corrosion does occur, it forms at random in pits. Pitting is most likely to occur in the presence of chloride ions, combined with such depolarizers as oxygen or oxidizing salts. Methods that can be used to control pitting include maintaining clean surfaces, application of a protective coating, and use of inhibitors or cathodic protection for immersion service.

For more, see corrosion corrosion.ksc.nasa.gov.

April 14, 2010

Disability Insurance Expert Witnesses & Managed Care Part 3

Disability insurance expert witnesses may opine on health insurance, medical insurance, managed care, and more. In Managed Care Fact Sheets, experts at the health care publisher MCOL describe provider payment arrangements:

Incurred but not reported claims or encounters involve covered services that have been rendered, but have not been received or captured by you to process. You to need to consider this issue when:

* You pay claims from sub-contracted or outside providers.
* You capitate sub-contracted providers and collect encounter data from them.
* You provide internal services and capture your encounter data, or even pay yourself from a shared risk fund.

Pay for Performance (P4P) involves various types of incentive reimbursement programs that tie financial rewards to various types of improved outcomes. This typically means purchasers pay participating providers different levels of payment, based upon provider performance with specified sets of measures that often include quality, patient satisfaction, efficiency and adoption of desired information technology. P4P provider reimbursement can involve fixed or variable bonus payments, changes to base payments for services rendered, withholds, and even non-financial rewards.


For more, see mcol.com.

April 14, 2010

Trucking Expert On EPA & Trucking Economy

Deborah Lockridge, trucking expert and author of the Heavy Duty Trucking newletter writes this on the EPA and the trucking economy:

As three senators continue work on a bipartisan climate change bill, two trucking groups say future regulation of truck fuel economy should stay where it is, under the Department of Transportation, and not get shifted to the EPA...

The concern is that the new bill will include the same obscure provision regarding heavy-duty truck fuel economy provisions as another bill, S. 1733, the "Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act." If enacted, these provisions would strip the Department of Transportation of its ability to set fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and transfer that authority to the Environmental Protection Agency. The bill was reported out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on November 5, 2009, and a similar bill containing truck fuel economy provisions passed the House of Representatives on June 26, 2009.


Excerpted from truckinginfo.com.

April 14, 2010

Transportation Experts & Cross Border Trucking

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood met with Mexico's top transportation official Monday in Mexico to discuss transportation issues and agreed to establish a working group of transportation experts to consider the next steps of the controversial and long-delayed cross-border trucking program.

LaHood met with Secretary of Communications and Transportation Juan Molinar Horcasitas in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. According to a joint press release, during the meeting, both officials agreed on the importance of cooperating in areas of mutual interest to ensure the safety, reliability, efficiency and sustainability of the two transportation systems.

After Congress cut off a cross-border trucking pilot program a year ago by prohibiting funding for such a program, the Mexican government slapped $2.4 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.

Excerpted from truckinginfo.com.

April 14, 2010

Medical Insurance Expert Witnesses & Managed Care Part 2

Medical insurance expert witnesses may opine on health insurance, medical insurance, managed care, and more. In Managed Care Fact Sheets, experts at the health care publisher MCOL describe provider payment arrangements:

Other types of risk sharing include withholds, when a portion of the provider payment is held back and only paid later if certain criteria are met. Also, there are shared risk funds, where physician groups share in a portion of the financial risk and potential profit of hospital or prescription costs.

How shared risk funds work: Typically, in a shared risk arrangement, a fund gets "paid" the capitation rate. Medical expenses are paid from this fund, and periodically, profits or losses are distributed to the participants.

Shared risk funds often allocate the risk between physicians and institutional providers, or between physicians and health plans. Occasionally, there are three or more parties involved (Health Plan, Physicians, Hospital and a management company could all be involved). Hospital and Pharmacy services are the most prevalent examples of shared risk funds. However, there are many other types of services that involve shared risk arrangements as well.

For more, see mcol.com.

April 14, 2010

Health Insurance Expert Witnesses & Managed Care Part 1

Health insurance expert witnesses may opine on health insurance, medical insurance, managed care, and more. In Managed Care Fact Sheets, experts at the health care publisher MCOL describe provider payment arrangements:

In Managed Care Organization (MCO) provider contracts, providers often bear some level of financial risk. In paying providers, capitation and salaries involve the highest levels of provider risk, and are usually just allowed under HMOs. Episode of Care payments also involve some risk, as costs could exceed the case payment.

Capitation: Capitation means paying a fixed amount of money per person (per capita). Capitation puts a lid on payments per person that otherwise might change under a fee-for-service system. Providers are at full financial risk for the services capitated. The provider is paid a fixed amount per member enrolled, regardless of the number of services delivered to that member.

Episode of Care: in which the managed care organization typically pays a provider a set amount per qualifying patient package price for a defined episode of care. There are a number of alternative structures for such payment arrangements.

For more, see mcol.com.

April 14, 2010

Wood Products Experts On Sawmill Recovery

In a March 23 press release, wood products experts at the Western Wood Products Association write NEW LUMBER FORECAST PREDICTS SLOW, STEADY RECOVERY FOR SAWMILLS.

Mills are starting to emerge from the worst downturn in the history of the industry and recovery will be slow yet steady, according to a new forecast released by Western Wood Products Association. The lumber trade association’s forecast calls for modest gains in housing, lumber consumption and U.S. production this year after setting modern lows during 2009. While markets are expected to improve in the coming years, lumber demand and housing construction will remain far lower that what the industry saw in the mid-2000s.

Demand for lumber in the U.S. is expected to increase 6.1 percent in 2010 to 32.9 billion board feet, ending consecutive 20-percent-plus declines recorded the previous two years. WWPA anticipates lumber demand to rise to 36.1 billion board feet in 2011, up 9.7 percent.

Western Wood Products Association represents lumber manufacturers in the 12 Western states. Based in Portland, WWPA compiles lumber industry statistics and delivers quality standards, technical and product support services to the industry

April 14, 2010

Risk Management Expert Witness On The Transfer Of Operational Risk

In Building A Box Around Murphy's Law, risk management expert witness Donald Bendure writes on how to approach the transactional transfer of operational risk.

Always include insurance requirements of your sub-contractors.
Be aware and satisfy imposed insurance requirements in contracts you sign.
Monitor certificates of insurance issued to satisfy contractual insurance requirements.
For certainly, request a copy of the policy endorsement satisfying the requirements.

April 14, 2010

Insurance Claims Expert Witness On Expert Assignments Part 8

In When the Phone Rings ... Twelve Questions for Prospective Expert Witness Assignments, insurance claims expert witness Kevin M. Quinley, CPCU, ARM, AIC, writes:

(9) Is there a trial date yet? If so, when? This also gives you a sense of the expected pace and timeline of the case. This can be highly relevant, especially if you are in a busy phase and juggling many engagements. You may have conflicting trial dates on other cases, or be
scheduled for a deposition or attending a conference for which you have pre-registered. An
imminent trial date may portend, “Fire Drill!” A futuristic or unset trial date may suggest that you will have ample time to analyze and digest the requisite materials without a crisis atmosphere. Some people thrive on crises; others have a hard time functioning effectively in this atmosphere. The proximity of the trial date may suggest the degree of “juggling” you may or may not have to do with other assignments and obligations.

Kevin M. Quinley is a leading authority on insurance issues, including risk management, claims, bad faith, coverages and litigation management. He is the author of more than 600 articles and 10 books. You can reach him through http://www.insuranceexpertnetwork.com/.

April 14, 2010

Insurance Bad Faith Expert Witness On Expert Assignments Part 7

In When the Phone Rings ... Twelve Questions for Prospective Expert Witness Assignments, insurance bad faith expert witness Kevin M. Quinley, CPCU, ARM, AIC, writes:

(8) Is this a rebuttal report? Has the other side disclosed its experts? If you are being asked to provide a rebuttal report, odds are that there is already an opposing expert who has weighed in on the issue for which your view is being sought. There may be situations that present not an outright conflict, but a potentially awkward situation. If the opposing expert is a good friend, business colleague, mentor, etc., you may be uncomfortable in opposing him or her. You may want to know the identity of the opposing expert before agreeing to take the case. Maybe the person has some business tie to you. Maybe she is a friend or mentor. Perhaps he is an industry guru whom you do not feel comfortable contradicting. Maybe he is a buffoon and you relish the chance to go head-to-head. It’s best to know up front before saying yes or no to the engagement.

Kevin M. Quinley is a leading authority on insurance issues, including risk management, claims, bad faith, coverages and litigation management. He is the author of more than 600 articles and 10 books. You can reach him through http://www.insuranceexpertnetwork.com/.

April 13, 2010

Insurance Broker Expert Witness On Louisiana Case Part 2

In the Paige Report: Digest of Important Decisions from 2009, insurance broker expert witness David H. Paige writes:

Life insurance agents’ client held to be insured CEO, and agent held not liable to investor in CEO’s company.
Part 2 -Implications for Agent/Broker Liability: Policyholder’s should not assume that they have a right to legal recourse if an insurance broker who is placing insurance to their benefit makes an error. In many situations, the court will only allow a legal remedy to those who the court considers to be the direct “client” of the insurance agent or broker. This decision is an example of the limitations that many courts place on the range of individuals who may seek compensation for what they believe to be insurance agent or broker misconduct.

April 12, 2010

Contracts Expert Witness & Oracular Milwaukee, Inc. Case

In 2003, Racine County requested bids for a consultant to upgrade its software and train its employees in using it. Oracular Milwaukee, Inc. was awarded the contract. But the project didn’t go as planned, and Racine sued Oracular for breach of contract and statutory misrepresentation. In a case decided April 2, the Wisconsin Supreme Court concluded that the issues at stake were not so complex as to require testimony from a contracts expert witness.

The court wrote: “[W]e do not close the door to the possibility that expert testimony may later assist the trier of fact in evaluating Racine County’s breach of contract claim. Our point is only that in the posture of summary judgment, Racine County was not required to name an expert witness as a matter of law.”

For more, see wislawjournal.com.

April 11, 2010

Medical Expert Witnesses On Tort Reform Part 1 of 3

Medical expert witnesses at Medical Opinions Associates write on tort reform:

Let’s clarify the issue. Advocates of “tort reform” are really arguing for lower incidence of medical malpractice awards, smaller dollar awards, and lower medical malpractice insurance premiums for physicians. They also hope to reduce the level of “defensive medicine”, the result of which is higher medical cost in response to the fear of being sued.

According to the National Practitioner Data Bank, the number and dollar value of medical malpractice award payouts has been flat since 1991, and have actually declined since 2001.The figures presented by the National Association of Insurance Commissions back this up. Public Citizens’ Congress Watch in Washington, D.C. reports that medical malpractice award payments declined 13.6% from 2001 through 2004 (the latest data available). Award payments of $1 million or more actually fell 56% from 1991 through 2004. According to a Harvard University study, very few medical errors ever result in legal claims – only one claim per 7.6 injuries ever results in legal action. Of those claims, plaintiffs drop 9 of every 10 that are initiated. Let’s at least admit that a case made solely on the basis of the “exploding incidence” of medical malpractice claims and awards has its problems.

April 10, 2010

Federal Rule Change Re: Expert Witness Reports

A major revision to the federal rules governing expert witness reports is on track to take effect in December. No longer would Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow full discovery of draft expert reports and require broad disclosure of any communications between an expert and trial counsel, as has been the case ever since the rule's revision in 1993.

Instead, under proposed amendments to Rule 26, those communications would come under the protection of the work-product doctrine. The amendments would prohibit discovery of draft expert reports and limit discovery of attorney-expert communications. Still allowed would be full discovery of the expert's opinions and of the facts or data used to support them.

For more, see ipFrontline.com.

April 9, 2010

Copyright Expert Witness & Newsbin Case

Newzbin, the Internet’s premier Usenet indexer, has lost its High Court case against several Hollywood movie studios. Justice Kitchin found the company, which turned over more than £1 million in 2009, liable for copyright infringement and will issue an injunction restricting its activities later this week. The London High Court showdown between Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Warner Bros., Paramount, Disney, Columbia Pictures and Newzbin Ltd ended earlier this month.

The claimants used Andrew Clark, Head of Forensics at Detica Limited, as their copyrights expert witness. His description of Usenet was not challenged in court.

Excerpted from torrentfreak.com.

April 8, 2010

Insurance Broker Expert Witness On Louisiana Case Part 1

In the Paige Report: Digest of Important Decisions from 2009, insurance broker expert witness David H. Paige writes:

Life insurance agents’ client held to be insured CEO, and agent held not liable to investor in CEO’s company.

A frequent issue confronting many courts involves what legal duty an insurance agent or broker has to a person or entity who the broker knows will benefit from insurance proceeds, but is not the insurance agent/broker’s client. Various courts have answered this question differently depending upon the legal precedent in their state and the facts of a given case. In this case, a court determined that the beneficiary of a key man life insurance policy had no ability to hold an insurance broker responsible for the investor’s own lack of attention to its transaction. In this decision, a Louisiana court* recently held that an insurance agent generally owes no duty to anyone other than her client to secure a certain amount of insurance coverage. In this case, the CEO of a Louisiana company had asked his insurance broker to obtain life insurance, partially to the benefit of an investor in the corporation. After the death of the CEO, the investor found that the life insurance actually placed was not at the levels expected by the investor. The Court found that the defendant insurance broker had no contractual agreement with the investor, and had no other duty or obligation as well.

April 7, 2010

Insurance Agent Expert Witness On Duty Of Insurance Broker Part 2

In the Paige Report, insurance agent expert witness David H. Paige writes on whether an insurance broker have a duty to give advice.
California court finds that insurance broker ordinarily has no duty to suggest that insured purchase additional insurance coverage.

Part 2: Implications for Agent/Broker Liability:

The continuing issue addressed in this decision is whether insurance brokers have an obligation to give advice, and not simply to purchase the coverage requested. As will be addressed in later Reports, other states have implied that an insurance broker has a duty to speak up and advise an insured to take action when it is clear to the broker that the client is acting unwisely. Perhaps one of the biggest issues to be addressed is whether the differing state standards are surprising to insureds who find themselves without the advice that they thought was implied in their relationship with their broker.

April 6, 2010

Insurance Agency Expert Witness On Duty Of Insurance Broker Part 1

In the Paige Report, insurance agency expert witness David H. Paige writes on whether an insurance broker have a duty to give advice.

California court finds that insurance broker ordinarily has no duty to suggest that insured purchase additional insurance coverage.

A continuing issue that has reappeared for years is the question of whether an insurance broker has an obligation to speak out and suggest to an insured that he should be purchasing more or different insurance. The courts have split on this question in different jurisdictions. As a latest example, a California court found that the defendant insurance agent did not have a duty to volunteer that an insured should procure different or additional coverage. Instead, as is the trend in many jurisdictions, the court stated that a duty to advise on additional insurance only arises under very specific circumstances. In California, the court found an expanded duty to advise arises when only one of three conditions is first met: (1) when the agent misrepresents the nature, extent or scope of the coverage being offered or provided, (2) when there is a request or inquiry by the insured for a particular type or extent of coverage, or (3) when the agent assumes an additional duty by either express agreement or by holding himself out as having expertise in a given field of insurance being sought by the insured.

April 5, 2010

Trucking Expert Witness

On his website, trucking expert witness Lew Grill, the SAGE Corporation, offers links to trucking research topics, e.g. Transport Topics Online.

April 4, 2010

Insurance Expert On Spring Driving Conditions Part 2

According to a recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA), vehicular fatalities account for nearly 95 percent of transportation related fatalities. Drivers often think that warmer weather means safer road conditions, but the effects of winter weather often make for difficult spring road conditions. As March 20th marks the first day of spring, CURE Auto Insurance provides tips on how drivers can stay safe on the road this season.

4. Allergy Season. Keep in mind that new spring growth often causes seasonal allergies, and over-the-counter allergy drugs can have side effects or interact with other medications to diminish your driving ability. Always know how the medication you are taking affects you before operating a vehicle.

5. Check wiper blades. Poorly maintained windshield wipers can hamper visibility in poor weather. According to the Car Care Council, 17 percent of vehicles brought in for their April check-up had front windshield wiper failures and 12 percent of vehicles needed service on their rear wipers and/or washers.

For more driving tips, please visit www.CURE.com or call 800-535-CURE.

For more, see insuranceheadlines.com.

April 3, 2010

The Role of the Social Services Expert Witness

In Social Workers and the Witness Role: Ethics, Laws, and Roles Susan Sarnoff, MSW, DSW, Assistant Professor, Ohio University, addresses the role of the social services expert witness:

Social workers have a long history of providing testimony in court, particularly in Family Court proceedings. Gothard (1989) noted that prior to 1980, few courts accepted expert testimony by social workers, and when they did, it was almost always to address child protection or custody issues. This has changed in the past two decades (NASW, 1998), but the change has brought liability risks for social workers who claim expertise inappropriately or who fail to observe either the law or their ethical obligations to clients.

Sarnoff differentiates among the various witnessing roles that can be held by social workers and suggests areas of the law and ethics with which social workers should be familiar in order to maximize their effectiveness on the witness stand and avoid the risk of malpractice.

For more, see http://www.socialworker.com/jswve/

April 2, 2010

Medical Expert On Cheaper Medicines Part 4

One study of schizophrenia drugs used in Georgia's Medicaid program showed that, while step therapy saved the state close to $20 a month on drugs for every patient, the savings were more than offset by increased costs in other services. Indeed, the program saw a monthly increase of nearly $32 per patient in outpatient care.

Similar studies have shown that private plans utilizing step therapy saw hospital and emergency-room visits increase, resulting in higher overall costs.

What's troubling is that step therapy is becoming more widely adopted. In 2000, 20 percent of private insurance carriers used step therapy. By 2008, it was half.

Reformers need to recognize that policies giving health care administrators control over treatment regimes are hazardous to patient health, and actually inflate overall costs.

The deterioration of the doctor-patient relationship is a serious threat to our health system. Ending step-therapy programs is one way to fortify this relationship.

April 1, 2010

Nursing Expert Witness & Legal Nurse Consultants Part 3

The nursing expert witness may often be a Legal Nurse Consultant. Here, the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants answers:

What Does a Legal Nurse Consultant Do?
# Interviews witnesses and involved parties
# Prepares persuasive graphic exhibits for trial
# Assesses issues of damage and causation
# Identifies and retains expert witnesses
# Assists in obtaining medical records and identifying missing records
# Organizes medical records and other medically-related litigation materials
# Prepares chronologies of medical events and correlates them to the allegations
# Developes collaborative case strategies with those practicing within the legal system
# Provides support during discovery, depositions, trial and other legal proceedings

For more, see aalnc.org.