Insurance defence is a key area of Field Law’s business and our experience working with the insurance industry goes back over 50 years.
Field Law’s team of over 40 insurance lawyers have represented many insurers and underwriters in insurance matters before all levels of court and tribunals from Small Claims Court to large, complex mediation, arbitration and trials.
Where we cannot resolve files early, or where clients wish to take a stand on a particular issue, we have the expertise to take matters to trial. Insurance litigation is a key practice area for Field, so Litigation Management is extremely important to us. We regularly review and improve processes. We engage our lawyers and staff to evolve and assist in controlling costs and delay while improving the decision process.
When appropriate, the firm’s personnel devise and implement strategies to reduce nuisance litigation and focus on long-term efforts to protect client interests.
Given the geographic scope of our business it is not unusual for Field lawyers to travel for several hours to meet with insureds. To prepare for a liability trial we travelled to the insured’s home located 130 km from Calgary to brief him for trial as he was an elderly man. We also travelled 150 km to Red Deer, Alberta to brief the insured’s nephew. The nephew agreed to testify at the trial even though the relationship between the nephew and the insured was strained. The Court relied on the evidence of the insured and his nephew and dismissed the Plaintiff’s claim in its entirety. During the trial, we were also in constant contact with the insured’s daughter and made suitable arrangements for the insured to attend the trial in Calgary.
Making Life Easier for the Client
In a subrogated recovery claim arising from the collapse of a house during a major renovation project, the insured was a very busy doctor with a pretty hot temper. By the time the litigation concluded, his family had relocated to Australia. When contacted to explain that the insurers had finally resolved the matter, but that he and his wife needed execute standard releases in favour of the parties we had sued as part of the settlement he was incensed by the time it would take for him and his wife to attend before a Notary Public to swear the documents. Seeing his response and frustration, we contacted the other counsel and convinced them that given the passage of time there really was no need for a release. Opposing counsel agreed and we advised our insured that no release would be needed. He was extremely thankful that he did not have to have further involvement or spend any further time dealing with the litigation or the conclusion of the same.
Explaining the Process
Litigation is adversarial, so the experience can be confusing and stressful to an insured. A strategy we employ to improve this experience is early and clear communication. Rather than having an assistant or more junior lawyer meet with our insured to execute an Affidavit of Records, the lead lawyer will meet with the insured directly. We let them know who we are, what our role is and make it clear that our job is to defend them. We explain the steps in the litigation, the Plaintiff’s claim, the purpose of a Statement of Claim, discussing questioning if relevant and any other concerns they may have. In that way, the insured has a personal relationship with counsel that generally makes them much more cooperative and understanding of their obligations in the litigation, the role of counsel and the role of their insurer.