Month: December 2018

business partnerships

Business Partnerships: Five Reasons to Avoid Them

Making a go of it with a new business can be one of the most satisfying ventures one will ever experience in life—and in some cases, it may be one of the most terrifying too. Including a partner means you have someone to carry the burden with overall, as well as helping to supply much-needed capital—not only for start-up but in the critical months and first few years that follow also. There may be initial peace in knowing you have another shoulder to lean on, but as is so often the case, one or more partnerships could end up being perceived as a liability in the future.

Although you could become involved in one or more partnerships that are extremely valuable and long-lasting, consider these reasons to avoid taking on one or more partners:

  1. Two (or three) can be a crowd – this can especially become an issue if you began a business partnership with someone you have known for a long time, but the friendship becomes strained, for whatever reason. Working in a partnership may be difficult too when it comes to decision-making. You may find that you don’t really want to have to ask someone else’s opinion or gain their permission to implement something new in the company, hire or fire someone, or buy or sell inventory, real estate, or other items.
  2. Finances – as with a marriage, disputes over money can be one of the most common issues, as well as the reason for dissolution of a partnership – and something that carries on past the separation point and into the courtroom, with the possibility of litigation.
  3. Disputes regarding shares – while this could be an immediate threat, there is also the possibility for conflict or vulnerability later if your partner wants to sell their shares to an outside party or dies and leaves them to a spouse who you could then feasibly suddenly find yourself working with every day.
  4. Resentments over work duties – although this should be outlined clearly when the company is formed, resentments can build later if your partner feels like they are being asked to do too much, or like full-time employees sometimes feel – as if they are being compensated too little in return. This can become challenging in difficult times when everyone may be forced to take on extra duties and put in more hours for the good of the company.
  5. Differing visions regarding the future of the company – this may have been what brought you together with a partner, along with creating a specific, unique innovation to offer to the public. Visions and strategies can change as time goes on, however, and a serious divergence in planning for later can cause conflict you may not want to deal with.

Do you need legal assistance with a business dispute? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm.  Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

sued

Sued After an Accident: Does the Insurer Pay My Legal Bills?

While purchasing insurance may often seem like a rote task and paying premiums just a financial inconvenience that goes with the territory of buying a home or a car, the idea is to minimize risk for everyone involved. The hope is also that—even with the expenses involved—a claim will never be necessary. Most of us in our lifetime will be in a car accident though, unfortunately, or experience damage to our home or our business. In some cases, it may be our fault too. Either way, experiencing what may be a catastrophic event requiring assistance from your insurer can be extremely stressful. And especially if legal action is involved.

There are many different examples that could include liability claims. You may have been in a car accident and found at fault. In that case, your liability insurance should cover any legal needs. If you own a policy covering you for general liability and a customer takes a spill on the concrete, you could find yourself being sued for substantial medical bills. Fortunately, the money you have been doling out for all those premiums should cover you for a legal defense—unless the situation at hand falls under an exclusion to your coverage.

A legal defense is usually covered and includes investigation of the claim. In many cases they will attempt to settle the claim with the other party. This is common in cases like auto accidents where an insurance adjuster will examine the property damage to the cars, interview all parties involved (including witnesses), and then arrive at a settlement amount to be offered to the injured party. If that is not possible and the case does go to court, you should be covered for the duration of the trial unless there are stipulations in your policy regarding such obligations. It is vital to have a comprehensive understanding of what you are purchasing at the time that you are speaking with your insurance agent before an accident occurs. While even a fender bender can still require hundreds or even thousands of dollars in repairs, an incident including catastrophic injuries or repairs could lead to financial ruin without the proper protection.

Are you concerned about a recent claim, or are you trying to understand your insurance policy? If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, the Bolender Law Firm will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

 

alternative dispute resolution

Mediation Topics: Alternative Dispute Resolution or Court?

In some cases (many of which can be resolved with alternative dispute resolution), a legal dispute may erupt in a flash, whether due to an act of negligence, accident, or other incident that pits two or more parties against each other. Other times, legal action may be the culmination of a relationship that has been going south for quite some time; for example, if you are a business owner, you may have issues with a vendor who has been supplying building sites with materials for years if you are a contractor—or perhaps food inventory if you own a restaurant. A business partner whom you founded your company with decades ago may have become resentful over certain issues, or desire complete dissolution of their part in the company. There could be disputes with employees, breach of contract issues with those working full-time or as independent contractors, or issues that arise with other businesses—and perhaps those that are owned by industry peers.

Led by a neutral mediator (often trained in an area relevant to your dispute) who guides the disputing parties in reaching an agreement and/or settlement, the mediation process allows the disputing parties to have an open discussion without the adversarial atmosphere so common to the courtroom. Mediation is also much more conducive to saving relationships that one party or the other may not want to see disappear. That could be due to personal relationships or an ongoing profitable relationship. This type of alternative dispute resolution should work well if you seek a more voluntary and relaxed atmosphere that is also conducted behind closed doors and kept confidential. Although mediation requires time and patience, and commitment to the process of reaching resolution, it is usually exponentially faster than litigation.

If you think a jury trial would be better for the type of legal dispute you are engaged in, however, mediation is not the way to go as juries are not allowed. Discovery and presenting of any evidence are limited, and no court transcription is performed during the process. If you want someone else to decide the case, mediation is not the best option either as this type of alternative dispute resolution means that you and the other parties are put together to reach a resolution with the guidance of the mediator, who is also not there to represent either party or give anyone involved legal advice.

The Bolender Law Firm will advocate on behalf of clients through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

commercial property

Commercial Property and the Margin Clause

There are many different reasons to buy insurance. You may find yourself worrying about whether to buy one or more policies, putting out thousands per year for protection that may never be needed. The greater worry, however, is what could happen if you did not purchase insurance. Without auto insurance, you could find yourself facing an enormous lawsuit if someone were injured due to your negligence—or serious property damage to your own vehicle left unpaid for if you had an accident without anyone else even involved. Without homeowner’s insurance, if your home suffered catastrophic damage and became uninhabitable, you could have little recourse for rebuilding. Without medical insurance, your health could be in jeopardy—and without life insurance, your surviving spouse and heirs may be left hanging in the balance, quite literally.

Commercial insurance is on another level entirely, however, as it not only protects all the hopes and dreams and hard work you may have contributed decades to, but also because it reduces any financial risk to your livelihood—and without that, protecting your family can be extremely challenging. In working with your insurance agent, however, you may feel overwhelmed with the complexities of understanding what your risk is, what you need, how much you can budget for premiums annually, and which deductibles to choose.

Understanding the basics of your policy, from coverages to exclusions, limits, and endorsements can be an ongoing education in itself—and it should be that way as you purchase insurance and then confer with your agent about updating it at least once a year if necessary. Complexities such as the margin clause may have you shaking your head wondering how it benefits you at all—and the answer is that it generally does not as the insurer adds the margin clause as an endorsement to your policy to offset the latitude of a blanket limit should there be the potential for a major pay-out.

The margin clause usually comes into play if there is a catastrophic loss to your commercial property that has become more valuable over time—without any updates regarding the value being discussed with your agent or resulting in changes to your initial policy. Substantial limits are placed on your property with the margin clause, meaning that only a specific percentage of the value of your commercial property would be paid for in a claim. You could be left paying thousands more on your own. It is critical to discuss all the details of your policy with your insurance agent—and whether your policy contains a margin clause or not, if it is not being paid, you may be a victim of bad faith practices. Signs of bad faith usually include unreasonable delays or requests for large amounts of documentation that may not seem relevant, or other intimidation tactics, along with complete denial of the claim with little explanation.

If you suspect your insurance company may be denying your claim in bad faith, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm. If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

bad faith

The Insurer Acted in Bad Faith: What Happens Next?

Despite so many horror stories (and you may have already been through a few yourself), most of us choose to—or are required to—purchase insurance policies based on trust. Whether you are buying car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, commercial insurance, or another type of protection, the transaction is based on a mutual promise. You provide honest information to the insurer, their underwriters approve one or more policies for you, and then you are responsible for paying premiums on time—but be aware that although the insurer may have no problem presenting you with delays on their end, missing just one payment could be the difference between having a claim paid, or completely denied.

Unfortunately, the insurance company usually has every right to deny a claim if the policy already canceled, but there can be other complexities (see previous blogs on policies with longer-lasting coverages such as malpractice tail coverage, the claims made policy, or occurrence policy) too. In most cases though, if you have paid your premiums and the need arises to file a claim, you expect the insurer to follow through on their promises. In the case that there was a damaging fire at your home, however, or a car accident (although there could be many other examples) resulting in property damage or physical injury, and you filed a claim, there could be numerous indicators that the insurer was acting in bad faith.

Although delays do happen, they could be a sign of bad faith. There may be delays in any type of investigation by the adjuster. They may be waiting on more information, or it could be a simple case of disorganization. If, however, there does not seem to be any investigation at all going on—or if they have requested torrents of documentation from you (some of which hardly seems relevant and may be extremely inconvenient to collect and provide to them), there may be an issue of bad faith. Other red flags may include delays that are followed by low-ball offers (and pressure or intimidation to accept them), presenting erroneous information as to why a claim may not be paid, or denying it altogether.

If you suspect an insurer is acting in bad faith against you, review your insurance policy to make sure you understand your coverages first. This may require legal expertise, along with skilled representation in the courtroom should you need to take legal action against the insurer. If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, the Bolender Law Firm will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

independent counsel

Independent Counsel for Insurance Lawsuits: When You Need It

If you are involved in a lawsuit—and especially one that is more challenging and adversarial in nature—you may feel like the world is against you. No one wants to have to endure the stress of litigation, which can be long and drawn-out, expensive, and has the potential to offer little satisfaction in the end. Being forced to fight without someone on your side may seem like a completely losing proposition, and although your insurance company may be providing an attorney for legal defense, you may feel like the odd man out. Unfortunately, you probably are not imagining things either as the insurance company must follow through on their promises as outlined, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t keeping a shrewd eye on their money.

Whether you are in court due to a serious automobile lawsuit where you were suspected to be negligent and there were serious injuries or property damage, or perhaps a commercial liability incident where someone hurt themselves on your property, in most cases your established liability insurance kicks in and leaves the insurance company obligated for your defense under ‘duty to defend.’ You can be sure that in most cases too, the insurance company will hope to take the more affordable route after performing an investigation and settle with the other side instead of heading for the considerable time and expense expected in the courtroom. If that is not the case though and you are involved in litigation, and you feel like you are not getting a fair shake as there is a conflict of interest with the attorney the insurer has provided, you may have the right to also have accompanying independent counsel—to be paid for by the insurer.

This may be vital to your future when large sums of money are involved for damages, or perhaps a settlement in the end. With independent counsel, you can be assured that the attorneys provided by your insurer are monitored by another legal expert and you have more control over your case. In most cases, this is your right unless you have waived the privilege previously.

Attorneys from the Bolender Law Firm have acted as independent counsel in many cases, representing policyholders exclusively. We are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!