Developing Winning Insurance Litigation Strategies Using Legal Data
The growing legal data ecosystem provides professionals in the insurance industry with rich insights and intelligence for making data-driven decisions connected insurance claims and resulting litigation. To provide a better understanding of how Legal Data as a Service and APIs are being leveraged by the insurance industry, UniCourt is featuring a guest post from our legal extern, Jared Bruttig.
Jared is a second-year law student at the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he focuses on business law and the intersection between law and technology. He spent the Fall 2022 semester externing with UniCourt, through UW Law’s Legal Technology Externship program. The externship program enables UW Law students to obtain practical experience by placing them within legal technology companies.
Jared has gained experience in the insurance industry via corporate internships with two major insurance companies. He has a B.B.A. in Marketing with a Digital Marketing emphasis from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Jared also completed a global study program at ESCAA School of Management in Paris, France. Last summer, he was a legal intern for an insurance company based in Walnut Creek, California.
The Insurance Industry at a Glance
The insurance industry is big business. Last year alone, net premiums written in the United States were $1.4 trillion. Property and casualty insurers made up 53% of recorded premiums. The balance of recorded premiums was made up by the life and annuity insurance sector.
In 2020, 2.86 million people were employed in the insurance industry in the United States alone. On the consumer side, insurance plays a major role in protecting some of life’s biggest assets. Many mortgage holders require homeowners to carry homeowners insurance. Most lessors require a lessee to carry automobile insurance. Pair these obligations with laws that require minimum automobile insurance coverage and odds are, if you have an interest in property, you are probably required to carry at least some form of insurance.
Insurance claims are inherently complex. Insurance companies rely on experienced claims professionals to flesh out the details of each claim filed and determine what resolution is appropriate. Depending on the nature of the claim, insureds may provide little to no information or offer a mountain of documents to support their claim. Factor in the volume of claims into the equation and it is easy to see how claims can stack up. Take homeowners insurance for example. Of all the insured homes in the United States, roughly one in every 20 has a claim annually. If an injured party finds the offers made during the claims process to be unsatisfactory, litigation may be on the horizon.
Once a lawsuit appears imminent, insurance counsel stand ready to vigorously defend their insureds. Once a lawsuit is filed, litigation costs can build quickly. Court filing fees, administrative costs, discovery costs (including expert witness fees), and related legal fees all add up. When you take into account the human capital invested into each lawsuit, it is striking to see how expensive litigation can be for insurance companies in the aggregate. In 2021 alone, insurance companies spent $5.37 billion on just consumer auto liability defense and cost containment.
Accessing Legal Data is a Recurring Pain Point for the Insurance Industry
Let’s face it, access to legal data for litigators is inconsistent. Jurisdictions vary considerably as to what court data can be accessed electronically and on-demand. Litigators from large law firms or those working in-house likely have access to software that helps access legal data and track active litigation. Law firms and in-house teams can also rely on robust internal data caches. Small firms or solo practitioners may not be able to justify the expense associated with such software or have the technological resources needed to integrate the software.
Accessing legal data is also costly. Federal court records accessed via PACER come at a considerable cost. Even performing a search on PACER that yields no results incurs a fee. Some states, like Wisconsin, provide free online access to state court case overviews. However, accessing Wisconsin state court documents or circuit court opinions requires assistance from a Clerk of Courts office and comes at a fee. Accessing legal data through third-party research services typically requires a paid subscription and can result in information overload. Obtaining legal data can quickly develop into a time-consuming and costly endeavor, especially if a case requires searching for data from multiple jurisdictions.
Finally, experienced litigators arguably have an advantage over new attorneys when it comes to reference experience. An experienced litigator may have appeared in front of the same judge for several cases or dealt with a specific plaintiff’s attorney before. These ‘unofficial’ legal data insights can provide critical strategic direction when crafting a winning legal strategy.
The Evolution of the Legal Data Ecosystem
Legal Data for All
Legal data is scalable. As an organization grows, so can its integration of legal data via Legal Data as a Service (LDaaS) solutions. From in-house teams to solo practitioners, legal data can be leveraged in the insurance industry across various team structures. With LDaaS, it is easy to control the figurative ‘data nozzle’ and narrow or expand the legal data ecosystem as needed to fit your objective without becoming overloaded with information.
UniCourt provides streamlined access to both normalized federal case data and normalized case data from several state courts. This legal data can be accessed through UniCourt’s online app or integrated directly into existing applications with UniCourt’s Legal Data APIs. UniCourt even offers a CrowdSourced Library™ that provides free access to millions of court documents that were downloaded previously by other users.
A slim legal budget or time constraints due to heavy caseloads can create an information imbalance in insurance litigation. Legal Data as a Service can help level the playing field and cut down on legal expenses. From automated searches and case tracking to customized Legal Data APIs, various solutions are available that can fit any legal team’s budget and use case. LDaaS automation can save attorneys and professional staff alike considerable time. These time savings allow legal professionals to focus on utilizing legal data to craft a winning strategy instead of allocating considerable resources to access individual court databases.
By employing legal data, data-driven decision-making becomes more than just a buzzword; it becomes a vital strategic option. Utilizing LDaaS solutions, like UniCourt, means legal teams of all sizes can make informed decisions using litigation intelligence. LDaaS allows litigators and claims professionals alike to make data-driven decisions on a case-by-case basis on critical issues like whether to offer a settlement or pursue litigation. LDaaS can also provide rich insights into the litigation ecosystem all in one place. Detailed information can be obtained about the opposing party, opposing counsel, and the assigned judges.
Leveraging Legal Data to Develop Winning Insurance Litigation Strategies
Although the facts, policy limits, and damages claimed may vary from insurance claim to insurance claim, historical legal data can help guide in-house legal teams and claims professionals to make more informed decisions and develop successful litigation strategies.
Consider the following example: an insurance claim is filed against an insured party. Pre-litigation resolution efforts are unsuccessful, and litigation is commenced. The insurance firm, which is already working on several open matters, must decide what the best strategy is: settle the case or proceed with litigation.
The insurance firm has a limited number of in-house attorneys and all of them are working on active matters, which reduces their availability. Stakeholders must now decide how much bandwidth can be allocated to this new claim.
Several critical queries can enable stakeholders to make an informed decision about whether to make a settlement offer or allocate resources to prepare for litigation:
- Who is the plaintiff? Do they have a litigious history? Are they currently involved in other lawsuits?
- Who is representing the injured party in the lawsuit and what experience do they have in this practice area and jurisdiction? Have they ever tried a case?
- Does the plaintiff attorney’s law firm have experience in the practice area at issue? Is the firm known to have the resources required to take cases to trial or is it known to settle?
- Who is the assigned judge? What are their past rulings and how have they handled similar cases?
Researching all of this independently, across several data repositories, can be costly and incredibly time consuming. Some insurance firms may simply not have the resources to conduct such detailed research, especially at scale. However, compiling robust litigation intelligence can enable your firm to make an informed decision.
Firms are thus presented with a dilemma: invest the time and money upfront into conducting thorough research to make early-stage strategic decisions or, cabin the scope of the research but roll the dice and run the risk of potentially stalling settlement talks or stringing along litigation.
But what if there was a resource that allowed insurance firms to seamlessly tap into the legal data ecosystem and answer the above questions all in one place?
UniCourt has several Legal Data APIs that allow insurance firms to gather litigation intelligence sourced from courts across the country that provides a total picture of the key players involved in a case.
UniCourt’s Legal Data APIs help insurance firms shape litigation strategy based on legal data grounded in facts, not hunches based on anecdotal assumptions. Firms can combine litigation intelligence obtained from UniCourt with their own internal claims and settlement data to craft the best path forward for each matter and its unique circumstances.
Are you ready to tap into Legal Data as a Service to craft winning insurance litigation strategies systematically and at scale?
Contact Us to learn more about UniCourt’s APIs and get started today.