Negative Corpus: NFPA 921 & Negative Corpus

Negative Corpus: NFPA 921 & Negative Corpus


Hi, I’m Ted Corless with the Corless Barfield Trial Group here in Tampa, Florida. We’ve prepared a series of podcasts, videocasts,
and blogs to assist individuals who are going through insurance claims, or people who may have been injured as a result of the negligence of others. Today’s video is about something called
“Negative Corpus” Negative Corpus, what is that? Well if we translated it literally, it means
no body. And that’s because a Negative Corpus Theory
being used by your insurance company would mean that an element of their case is not
based upon the evidence that they identified, but the evidence they couldn’t find. Now think about it this way, an insurance
cause and origin investigator examines a fire scene. Obviously there was a severe fire,
there was tremendous damage, and it spread all over a bedroom into a roof line. When the cause and origin investigator gets
to the location, they obviously have identified the fire but can’t find the source of the
fire. So, they begin eliminating things: Well, was there lightning? No, there was no lightning. They test for accelerants. There were no accelerants, it was a bedroom. Well, what if there was a candle? Well, okay, but we never found the candle. Does that mean the insurance company can say,
based upon Negative Corpus, they couldn’t find the candle that they can blame the individual
for deliberately setting the fire because they’re now presuming they caused the fire? Well that’s what Negative Corpus was all
about. The National Fire Protection Association,
which essentially is an organization that every fire inspector participates in, reads
their materials and follows their books like the Bible. Negative Corpus as of 2014 is no longer permissible. Now that may not seem like a big deal, but
prior to 2011, fire cause and origin experts from insurance companies were routinely using
NFPA’s 921. That’s the one that allowed Negative Corpus
prior to 2011. They were using Negative Corpus theories. But then after that when the NFPA realized
that there were a whole lot of people with denied insurance claims and a whole lot of
people going to jail, that that is no longer consistent with the scientific method. Here’s the most important point: the NFPA
says, “You cannot use Negative Corpus for the ignition source”. Meaning if you can’t find an ignition source,
you cannot then presume that if we didn’t find an accidental cause, it was deliberate. You can’t do that anymore. You cannot use a Negative Corpus Theory to
determine the first fuel. What was it that caught on fire first? Because that’s relevant in cause and origin. It most definitely tells you that you cannot
rely on Negative Corpus to understand the sequence of the burn. These are issues that fire investigators had
used for so long that there are still cause and origin experts being relied upon by insurance
companies who use Negative Corpus as a theory even as of today. If you are involved in a fire claim with an
insurance company and the cause and origin expert is using theories that don’t seem
right to you, I would encourage you to go to our website, http://www.corlessbarfield.com
or give us a call. I look forward to hearing from you.