"No Stone Unturned: Conducting Thorough, Ethical Investigations in Third-Party Liability Claims and Litigation"
Melissa Segel and Kori Eskridge authored an article for the June 2021 issue of CLM Magazine offering insights and best practices for conducting effective investigations in third-party liability claims and litigation.
“A thorough investigation of a third-party liability claim can serve an important role in the preservation of evidence, evaluation of the claim and eventual decisions regarding coverage and settlement of claims,” Segel and Eskridge wrote. “In addition, the facts and evidence gathered during the claims stage can provide insight as to potential defenses, witnesses, sources of evidence and other information that is helpful in establishing a litigation strategy.”
The date a third-party liability claim is anticipated — whether as early as the date of the accident or as late as when the claim is filed — represents a bookmark for determining what documents may be subject to privilege. Once litigation is anticipated, documents in the claim file and some investigative efforts are typically protected by the work-product doctrine and must be noted in the claim file.
As for initial investigation steps, Segel and Eskridge recommend contacting the insured first, obtaining a recorded statement from the injured party, interviewing any witnesses, obtaining any photographs or videos available (including security footage), performing prompt inspections and appraisals, conducting social media searches for information available on public profiles and accessing any open records or other public documents pertinent to the claim.
Once a lawsuit is filed, investigative efforts should continue and build upon the initial discovery efforts. Depending on the type and severity of the claim, it may be useful to retain experts, such as medical professionals, accident reconstructionists, biomechanical engineer, structural or mechanical engineer or a billing and coding expert to review medical charges.
For more information, please see the full article here.