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The Key to Professional Liability Claims

Takeaways from the Cyber, Management, and Professional Liability Community's recent webinar, "From Beginning to End: Strategies and Challenges in Navigating a Professional Liability Claim From the Onset Through Trial"

December 20, 2022 Photo

CLM’s Cyber, Management, and Professional Liability Community recently held a webinar entitled, “From Beginning to End: Strategies and Challenges in Navigating a Professional Liability Claim From the Onset Through Trial,” which discussed tips for improving communication, and an understanding of the situation, among all involved parties when a professional liability claim arises. Below are a few takeaways from the presentation.

12:00:00pm

THE SPEAKERS
Gary Strong, Partner, Gfeller Laurie, LLP

Melissa Demmon, Vice President, Claims Counsel, Sompo International Insurance

12:05:33pm

Melissa Demmon

“If I have in mind the right counsel, and that power rests with me under the policy, I’m still going to involve the insured in that decision. Likewise, if the insured has the power to select, I’ll do everything I can to involve myself in that decision because I may have resources at my disposal that they are not aware of in their local jurisdiction.”

12:06:37pm

Gary Strong

“From a lawyer’s perspective, one of the most important things is to identify the key players. And I’m not talking just about who’s in the complaint; I’m talking about introducing yourself to the insured. In many situations, these professionals have never been sued before.”

12:07:44pm

Gary Strong

“Identifying the key players is very important at the beginning. And that’s both for getting into fact discovery—meaning answering interrogatories and identifying an expert—but also [from the standpoint of], are there others that need to be brought into the case under a myriad of legal theories?”

12:08:41pm

Melissa Demmon

“When you’re identifying those key players…often the insured might have someone in mind. That person may be a fantastic technician or subject matter expert in the field in which the insured finds themselves…who may in fact not be who you think is most suited to defend the professional negligence claim. That person might be able to be locked in as a standard of care expert early on, which I have found insureds are often quite pleased with.”

12:09:40pm

Gary Strong

“Working collaboratively together [is important]. I can’t tell you how many times I hear from an insured who says, ‘Hey, thanks for copying me on the status report. I have some questions.’ Especially when you’re dealing with a professional. These are people who generally know their field…take pride in what they’re doing, and they want to be kept up to date.”

12:10:44pm

Gary Strong

“Explain to the professional the pros and cons of what’s going on. COVID-19 happened, and I can tell you, at least in my venues, if you file a lawsuit today, you won’t see a trial for three-to-five years at the minimum. Part of it is normal delay, but it’s also being added to because of COVID-19.”

12:12:12pm

Melissa Demmon

“Longer is not always better; clear and concise communication [is more important]. And that goes for every member of this relationship—we’ll call it the claims family.”

12:13:47pm

Melissa Demmon

“One of the things I find to be most helpful in that preliminary phone call I’m having with the insured is to ask them to clarify things: ‘Have you been down this road before? If not, what questions do you have? Do you understand my role? Do you understand your defense counsel’s role?’”

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About The Authors
Phil Gusman

Phil Gusman is senior managing editor for CLM Magazine and Construction Claims magazine.  phil.gusman@theclm.org

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CLM’s Cyber, Management & Professional Liability Community helps raise awareness of issues and trends in the management & professional liability insurance marketplace, with an emphasis on litigation management through a collaborative effort between insurance companies and brokerages, claims organizations and service providers.

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