HALL BOOTH SMITH, P.C
Duane Cochenour is a litigator specializing in medical malpractice claims, negligent security cases and insurance coverage. He has a unique perspective, with 20 years of experience as an insurance claim professional prior to becoming a lawyer. He knows exactly what it is like to be an adjuster, supervisor, regional claim manager and major case negotiator, because he has worked in each of those positions. He draws on over 30 years of experience in the insurance and legal industry to defend and counsel clients in various types of bodily injury and property damage litigation. He also specializes in insurance coverage and bad faith litigation, regularly providing guidance on complex coverage matters to major insurance carriers. Duane is also a certified mediator and a member of both the Georgia and Florida bars.
Duane specializes in representing hospitals, physicians and other health care providers against claims of medical malpractice. In addition to routinely defending these cases in both Georgia and Florida, he is also part of a team of litigators who defend catastrophic cases across the country as part of the firm’s National Trial Counsel Program.
Duane also specializes in representing clients against claims of negligent security in cases involving shootings, assaults and other serious crimes. These claims have exploded in Georgia, but our firm has developed specific strategies that allows us to minimize the exposure of these businesses, property owners, property managers and their insurers.
In addition to these two areas of specialty, Duane keeps a varied litigation practice and represents clients in motor vehicle accidents, products liability claims, premises liability claims, construction disputes, non-medical professional liability claims and other types of bodily injury and property damage litigation.
Drawing on three decades of experience interpreting insurance coverage, Duane is one of the leaders of the firm’s Insurance Coverage Practice Group. He regularly provides coverage opinions and other guidance to major insurers on complex coverage and bad faith cases. His vast experience in the insurance industry, coupled with his experience litigating coverage and bad faith actions, enables him to counsel and defend insurers in coverage and bad faith disputes. He knows exactly what it is like to be an adjuster working a large case load, a front line supervisor managing multiple adjusters and a regional claim manager overseeing the claim operation in 5 states for a major insurer. This gives him a unique perspective (and passion for) defending insurance professionals against claims of bad faith. He also regularly reviews cases involving time-limited and/or policy limit demands, advising carriers on their exposure and providing recommendations on how to respond to these demands. He is also frequently retained by excess carriers as monitoring counsel on high-exposure claims.
Duane started his insurance career as a claim representative with Liberty Mutual, but spent the bulk of it with St. Paul Insurance Company. He managed territories throughout the Southeast and, as a major case negotiator, handled catastrophic claims throughout the country. He was also selected to be on a project team that literally drew up a new dedicated medical claim structure nationally for St. Paul in 1995. He was also designated as an internal resource on coverage matters at St. Paul, teaching liability coverage courses internally to adjusters and supervisors. He regularly partnered with underwriters and agents on sales calls with prospective insureds. This experience gives Duane a unique insight into how to meet the needs of his insurance clients.
Duane excelled academically, graduating 7th in a class of over 150 students at the Georgia State University College of Law. He demonstrated his litigation skills early, leading a team that placed second nationally at the prestigious National Trial Advocacy Competition held annually at Michigan State University. He also received the Nai Karimimanesh Award as the top student in Advanced Evidence.
Duane specializes in providing coverage opinions in construction defect cases, litigating those cases when necessary. However, he also brings additional expertise to the table in evaluating these complex cases. Understanding how the coverage issues interplay with the litigation issues in these matters is essential in assisting carriers evaluate their exposure. Duane draws on over three decades of experience evaluating exposure in complex liability cases.
Throughout Duane’s insurance career, he handled a wide variety of liability claims. He has continued that type of varied practice into his career as a litigator. He has litigated numerous types of general liability matters, including negligent security cases, motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, and monitoring/assessing excess liability claims.
Interpreting insurance coverage is nothing new for Duane; he has done it for almost 30 years. He has had to make the decision of whether to pay policy limits under the pressure of a time limit demand in cases involving excess exposure. He has dealt with underwriters, agents, producers, brokers, risk managers and others in the insurance sales channel, which gives him a global framework of practical experience on how the insurance industry operates. This experience gives him knowledge and insight into insurance coverage and bad faith issues that a legal education alone simply cannot provide. He not only provides coverage opinions and guidance to carriers and clients, but also litigates those disputes when necessary.
Duane has extensive experience representing hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers. He has litigated medical malpractice cases throughout Georgia and Florida. In addition, as part of the firm’s National Counsel Program, he has defended hospitals and physicians in catastrophic damage claims in numerous other states.
Duane also has experience handling complex E&O claims against various professionals, including attorneys, engineers, directors, officers, insurance and real estate agents. His insurance background, as well as his service on various non-profit boards, gives him a broad breath of experience to draw on.
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