Sexual misconduct and abuse — oftentimes involving high-profile individuals and employees at all levels of large organizations — continues to result in high exposure claims that raise complex issues of insurance policy interpretation and application. From states extending or suspending the statute of limitations for abuse claims, to alleged systemic sexual misconduct driving organizations into bankruptcy, these potentially damaging claims have far-reaching implications for insurance covering businesses, educational institutions and school districts, religious organizations, sports teams and youth organization.
Our team tracks the many claims developing from states that have implemented statutes extending the period to bring sexual abuse claims. There has been a significant evolution in providing abuse victims the counseling, guidance, social and legal frameworks to come forward with claims that may have remained buried in the past. Our team’s experience working with lost or fragmented policies means that we are prepared to assist our clients on even the oldest claims.
National Practice with Knowledge of Local Law
A negligent supervision claim that might be covered in one state might not be covered in another. An exclusion might be applied in one state but not another. In one state, reserving rights on allegations of intentional conduct may permit the insured to select independent defense counsel, but another state may not have that rule. Instead of adopting a one-size-fits-all approach, our team exemplifies a high level of aptitude in understanding the various state laws and an ability to identify differences that will affect the outcome of these claims.
Managing the Exposure and Shifting Risk
Sexual abuse claims raise complex questions about how policy limits, retentions and deductibles apply, especially when limits, retentions or deductibles apply on a per occurrence or per claim basis. These claims also often raise the potential to shift risk to other insurers or tortfeasors. Our team has extensive experience evaluating our client’s exposure and shifting risk to other responsible parties when possible.
Settlement Negotiations and Mediation
When it comes time to resolve a sexual abuse case, our team has successfully assisted clients to manage tense settlement negotiations and mediations that often require an extra level of sensitivity towards the emotional and social needs of both the alleged victim and the insured, and sometimes require an appropriate level of aggressiveness to obtain a reasonable settlement and ensure that all potentially responsible parties contribute.
Our clients benefit from having someone in their corner to explain coverage issues to the mediator, as it is often the same facts that drive up the alleged victim’s valuation of his or her own case that decrease the potentially available coverage, and therefore the coverage issues must be considered in evaluating a reasonable settlement amount.
When litigation becomes necessary, either to enforce a coverage denial or to recover from a recalcitrant responsible party that should be contributing to a high exposure settlement, BatesCarey’s team has experience litigating in state and federal courts around the country.