Episode #7: Business Loss LawsuitsBy Stewart J. Guss on September 12th, 2020
For our episode of the Breaking Down The Law Podcast we’re joined by Jason Ruen, a personal injury lawyer in Houston who specializes in Personal Injury Litigation. He’s joined by Breaking Down The Law Podcast host, Ashley Rodriguez.
During today’s episode, we’ll be addressing several questions about Business Loss Lawsuits which are brought on by the COVID Pandemic.
- What exactly is business interruption insurance?
- What exactly does business loss insurance cover? Does it cover employee wages?
- What does a Business interruption claim denial look like? What are the steps after you have been denied by the insurance?
- How do I calculate my loss claim?
- What type of business qualifies?
Jason discusses these points and so many more, so we hope you’ll join us for this episode! You can learn more about Jason and Stewart J Guss, Attorney at law by visiting us online at www.attorneyguss.com
Stay tuned for the next installment of the Breaking Down The Law Podcast with Stewart J Guss and Ashley Rodriguez!
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Transcript [This transcript was created using an automated transcription service and may contain errors]
Intro : 0:09
Breaking down the law, breaking down the law a podcast hosted by attorneys and legal specialists discussing everyday law and how it affects regular people, regular people. Let’s break down the law with our host Stewart Guss and Ashley Rodriguez. They have the inside scoop on everything legal and newsworthy.
Ashley Rodriguez : 0:33
Welcome to breaking down the law. I’m Ashley and we have a special guest with us today.
Jason Ruen : 0:38
Hello, Ashley. Hi, Jason. How are you today? I’m doing well.
Ashley Rodriguez : 0:42
So Jason, tell us a little bit about you.
Jason Ruen : 0:45
Okay, well, I’m Jason Rowan. I’m the Managing executive attorney at Stewart guess my job entails essentially helping run the firm and specifically with regards to like todays topic litigation department.
Ashley Rodriguez : 0:59
Yes. So today we’re going to be discussing business interruption. So what exactly is business interruption insurance?
Jason Ruen : 1:08
Well, business interruption insurance is insurance that would cover a business in the event that they’re not able to be open and continue normal operations. It would be, for example, the most recent most common things you see would be in the event of like a hurricane or some massive property damage affecting a business so they couldn’t physically open and would lose business. So they would have this insurance that would step in and provide some coverage for that.
Ashley Rodriguez : 1:41
So basically, kind of on this pandemic, to that we’re going through with follow under one of those things.
Jason Ruen : 1:48
That is kind of the $50,000 question, because some of these policies are written in such a way that it looks like it wouldn’t be covered but they might actually be covered and in some As they’re very clearly covered. So typically these policies are written in such a way that it’s obvious that they’re covered losses, and they’re covered losses for things. But like I said before, like a tree falling on your business or in your car driving in the front of your restaurant or something of that nature might affect, it’s clear that it would cover in those situations, but there is an upgrade error in a lot of these policies that would cover being shut down because of something related to the pandemic. Either one of your staff members has Corona, and you had to shut down or a customer had it, you had to shut down because you had to clean up you had to make sure there wasn’t exposure to other folks, or because you were forced to shut down because of the orders that were given out. So there are potential ways in which your insurance would cover the lawsuits you’ve had as a result of the pandemic.
Ashley Rodriguez : 2:58
So is it just a loss in general or Is it like a pays for employees wages? Or what exactly does that cover?
Jason Ruen : 3:07
So, the insurance, the document itself, the policy that you get is going to control so you always got to look into that. But typically what it’s gonna, what’s covered by this insurance are going to be things like your last rep, or the profits you would have made as a result for being open, but it might cover things like your mortgage payment, your rent, your lease payments, loan repayments, taxes, even payroll, things of that nature, maybe covered but it’s going to be controlled by your policy.
Ashley Rodriguez : 3:39
Okay, so it’s definitely good to look at your policy. So what exactly is business interruption claim denial lawsuit, like, let’s say that we’ve looked at our policy, now what’s the next step if we are uncertain?
Jason Ruen : 3:53
Lawsuit is essentially kind of the last step in the process. The first thing you got to do is make the claim and it’s not not calling your agent and say, Hey, am I covered for this? Because your agent is probably going to tell you no, because he didn’t expect when you sign up for this policy that you’re going to be making a claim due to a pandemic. So most of them and most of these agents, my experience with it is that most agents are under the impression that it’s not covered by the policy. So that’s what they’re going to tell you. That’s not making a claim. So if you just call your agent up and say, Hey, am I covered? He says no, that’s that’s not making claim, you have to go through the claim process, you actually have to make a written claim out based upon your losses submitted to the insurance company and have them denied before you even start the lawsuit process. So, essentially, you make the claim. The insurance company denies it for whatever reason. At that point, you contact a lawyer to get help and in probably falling off it.
Ashley Rodriguez : 4:55
So how do I calculate the loss for my claim.
Jason Ruen : 5:00
So that’s a great question. And again, it’s kind of going to depend on what your policy lays out as being coverages for you. So, if your policy allows you to make a claim based upon loss revenue, only, then it’s going to be lost revenue. If it includes things like payroll, then you’re going to want to include payroll, and you’re going to want to include essentially, your best guess your best estimate as to all of these factors. So if you’re normally would be receiving X amount in revenue, and from that revenue, you’re paying X amount of payroll, you’re paying taxes, things of that nature, you’re gonna have to label all that stuff out. Again, it’s going to be controlled by your policy. So you want to see what they’ve laid out in your policy for this process and what they’re going to be accepting as evidence of, essentially what your losses are and allow these policies will break out losses and damages after very specific wording, so I’m going to use the term loss Because that’s what this is really tracking, you’re tracking your losses that necessarily property damage to your location for your business.
Ashley Rodriguez : 6:07
So what type of business was the offer for that? Is it anyone that has business interruption insurance? Or will some businesses not qualify?
Jason Ruen : 6:16
Got it on the first try? Actually, yeah, pretty much any business that has this one that has this type of insurance, and has suffered a loss during this pandemic, might be able to make one of these claims and potentially one of these losses to pick up a dog walker, you could be restaurant restaurants are easily the most obvious potential claimants under these circumstances, but literally anybody any business that has this insurance, and that has suffered a loss, as a potential can potentially make a claim.
Ashley Rodriguez : 6:51
So what would be like the expected timeline for a business? So let’s say we think we get a claim, we file the claim, like we have to go to file the lawsuit. Like how does how long do you think it would take for them to get anything in return so they can make claim their business?
Jason Ruen : 7:08
That’s a difficult question. Because the process itself is actually a lot longer, potentially than other types of lawsuits because you absolutely have to make this claim. First, you have to get your evidence all in order, make the claim have the claim denied. So it’s not a quick and easy kicks, it’s not something that’s going to make a really, really fast turnaround. For someone making this claim or having to go in front of a judge and prove these damages. They’re also often additional steps that don’t exist in others forms of litigation. That will need to take place since this is an insurance contract claim you might have forced arbitration, you might have to have a forced or outside evaluation of the damages taken by a third party, there are a number of additional steps that could take place that is going to extend this process longer than would be ideal. So the long and short of it is, it’s not quick. That’s about as good as I can give you.
Ashley Rodriguez : 8:06
So would it be wise to speak to a lawyer before I make my claim? Or should I just wait to get a denial from the claim?
Unknown Speaker : 8:16
So you can speak with a lawyer, and we recommend that you speak with a lawyer, but the lawyer, the first thing that the lawyer is going to ask you is going to be have you made a claim already. Now, a lot of times, you don’t know how to make your claim. And that’s might be why you’re getting a lawyer involved, and that’s perfectly fine. But the first step of that process is going to be making sure that you’re making a claim under any potential coverage that you have on your policy. Well, you can probably help you out with that. You’re going to need to give him a copy of your policy, a certified copy of your policy, ideally, that has essentially all the sections in it that are going to come into play because the policy is going to not just tell you the interest. It’s also going to tell you things like exclusions and that’s the That’s huge in this pandemic, situation because a lot of these policies have something called a virus exclusion. I don’t know if you saw the Yeah. Have you seen the recent I think President Trump even said, was gotten on tape, where he was looking at the policies as well. You know, this doesn’t say anything about a pandemic, so they should be paying these claims. It doesn’t say anything about pandemic, but it does say things about viruses. And there’s a claim and there’s an argument there.
Jason Ruen : 9:29
Virus or pandemic kana Yeah, that it’s a virus pandemic, but is that gonna apply or not apply? And a lot of these cases are resolved around that exclusion language. And the problem is, and the worry that I have is that people aren’t going to make these claims because they see that virus exclusion, just assume, oh, well, it’s a virus so I can’t make a claim when that’s not actually correct. It might block some, but it won’t block all. Getting a lawyer involved.
Ashley Rodriguez : 10:03
You weren’t out for a week, you’re out for a while.
Jason Ruen : 10:06
Yes, yes, absolutely. That’s That’s why these cases are going to be pretty critical for a lot of our local small business owners across the nation because of the great and unprecedented losses that they are faced with during these times. So to answer your question, yes, probably good idea to get involved early later.
Ashley Rodriguez : 10:27
Okay, so just going through all this I mean, is that something that you would recommend that every business should really kind of reevaluate moving forward is their business interruption insurance and everyone should probably kind of have it and see, you know, what they can do moving forward? Because I mean, we never know it could happen.
Jason Ruen : 10:46
Absolutely. And if that’s what insurance is for, you are taking the risk of these things happening and putting them on someone that you’re paying money to to cover you for. you’re transferring that risk to another company and these insurance companies. That’s what they exist. They exist to take on this risk, and to balance your payments against that future need. So I don’t really see us going into a world in which these are being these these events, these pandemics are happening less frequently. And having more and more frequently, you just look back over the last 15 years and see how many times we’ve been confronted with the avian flu, SARS, COVID-19. These are happening more and more frequently. And the insurance companies know they’re happening more frequently. And they’ve actually been plotting and planning and working on things like the virus exclusion since I think it was 2007 or 2006, when they first kind of submitted some language about that internally. So yeah, it’s something you need to consider your business owner. It’s absolutely something moving forward.
Ashley Rodriguez : 11:50
Yeah, I mean, we don’t know what’s gonna happen now. Is there anything else that we haven’t covered, Jason that you think a business owner should know about a business interruption lawsuit or insurance? read your policy, read your policy, return policy return policy. I can’t cover that enough. That is the first step and the most important step, check out what’s in there and all the possible options that you have. You paid for it, it was supposed to give you security. A lot of the times the company is trying to get out of it because they have too many people making claims. So they’ve got to deny some people and the ones that are going to deny are going to be the ones that aren’t trying hard and read their policy. So that’s really where my first suggestion comes from. It’s going to be if you take nothing else out of this at all, if you have a puzzling oldest policy, a business owners policy for business interruption, specifically business interruption insurance policy, read it cover to cover, make sure you read the entire thing, and try to make a claim for everything that you can under it, or at least talk to a lawyer about. Well, that sounds good. Make sure y’all read those policies and thank you for listening. To Breaking Down the Law. If you have any more questions about a business interruption claim denial lawsuit, please contact us at www.attorneyguss.com or 281-783-3934. Thank you.