establishing boundaries

Establishing Boundaries in the Business Partner Agreement

Business partners can offer the best and the worst when it comes to sharing a business, which is why you should always have a business partner agreement. In the beginning, it can be enormously helpful to have a partner in crime, someone to brainstorm with, and a likeminded soul to open a new company with. This allows you to share financial burdens, which can be considerable not only in the beginning but can also continue throughout the life of your business as you must keep up requirements in maintaining capital. A business partner can handle a large portion of the workload along with you, and help you not only decide how to run the business but move forward in hiring employees, independent contractors, establish intellectual property, and more.

Just as you should have structure within your company though, you should have structure in your business partnership. This all begins with the partnership contract. And while you may have known this partner for many years—most of your life even—it can be extremely valuable to have everything in writing, comprehensively. Like any other relationship, the partnership should have boundaries, beginning with titles that outline roles; for instance, you may be the CEO and in charge of all the major decision making while partners will operate in other upper management capacities. Establish percentages that each partner has in the company, and delineate job duties also, although they may continue to be fluid over the years.

Difficult decisions for the future can already be put into place with the business contract too. What happens if one partner dies? What if a partner wants to move on to other interests and sell their shares? Speak with your business attorney about outlining how all these issues should be dealt with so you don’t end up with a new partner you didn’t plan on later or lose out on having first right of refusal to buy your partner out. Include a dispute resolution clause too, outlining how any legal issues should be resolved, whether in litigation, mediation, or arbitration. It is also typical to decide where such action would take place and who would pay attorney’s fees.

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!

 

Insurance claim

Insurance Claim Denied? You Should Have Answers!

As a policyholder, you have enough stress—and it starts at the outset as you must take what can be considerable time out to research what you need, find a good agent, and pay for a policy. Along with that, when you sign on the dotted line, you promise to uphold your end of the agreement as stated in the policy—and the insurer is promising to pay out as agreed if you have a claim that is valid within the stated guidelines. This is true for any type of insurance policy, whether you are protecting property like your car, home, or commercial site—or insuring your health, life, or more.

The insurance industry takes in billions of dollars in premiums each year. And all too often, they don’t want to let go of one penny without a fight. It may just be business as usual for the insurer, but as you fight to receive much-needed financial compensation after a debilitating car accident, repair your home after a storm or a fire, pay off medical expenses, or cover an issue with a customer at your business, days, weeks, and months of waiting can be devastating to your financial (and emotional) health, as well as that of your family.

Bad faith practices may be evident in numerous ways, beginning with … nothing. That’s a very bad sign if you have filed a claim and an adjuster does not seem to be asking for information or investigating at all; usually, for example, if you are in a car accident and there is a claim, the adjuster for either side may be calling you practically before you have left the emergency room. Other signs of bad faith will manifest in unreasonable delays, lowball offers, and requests for outrageous amounts of documentation, including repetitive information. The end of the road—and what should be the impetus for you to reach out for expert legal help—is the outright denial. For an insurer to refuse to pay your claim, there is usually a typical problem such as an exclusion to the policy, lapse in payments, too much lapse in time in reporting the claim, or other basic issues. If you are not getting any answers, the insurer is being negligent all around.

If you suspect negligence on the part of your insurance agent or insurance company, contact the Bolender Law Firm. We 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!

Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners Insurance: Understand What Weather Events Are Covered

While it is important to read the fine print in all your insurance policies, this is especially true with protection for your home. There can be many exclusions, and it is important to understand all of them, so you know what to expect in terms of coverage if there is a disaster, or damage to the home. Homeowners insurance can be complicated, just like any other policy, and there may be basic exclusions that surprise you; for example, you may not be covered if there is a landslide or an earthquake.

The homeowner’s policy is usually meant to cover the basics in case of an accident, disaster, or theft in your home. Policyholders seek coverage for the structure of their homes to be able to repair damage or rebuild if necessary, buy new belongings or have some things repaired, pay claims in the event they are sued for liability, and in some cases, have funding for living expenses while they cannot live in their home.

California is of course famous for earthquakes, but in many cases, they are not covered in the most basic of policies. Considering that there are thousands of earthquakes in California each year, this is a major consideration for most potential policyholders. Related mudslides and landslides are a worry too, although they are also often caused by rain. Wind and hail may be excluded in some areas too, so do not assume you are covered—and especially not for flood insurance, which may only be available to you through the government. Other water damage, hurricane damage, mold growth, and issues from sewers or septic backing up may not be covered at all either.

Just because something is covered in a standard policy, however, doesn’t mean you can’t purchase extra coverage quite easily. When you purchase insurance, your agent should explain everything thoroughly, and discuss the need for added riders or necessary upgrades. When shopping for insurance, don’t feel compelled to go with the first company or price, but seek out multiple quotes. Also make sure that you are buying enough insurance so that in the case of serious damages you are not left paying for a large portion of damages.

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!

low ball settlement

Do Not Be Pressured into a Low Ball Settlement

The game of insurance can be a difficult one, and unfortunately, that may be exactly what you feel like you are caught up in if you are having trouble getting a claim paid and being asked to take a low ball settlement. This is frustrating for so many consumers who have paid their claims on time, kept up their end of the agreement in terms of their policies, only to be given a hard time when they needed the insurance company to follow through on their promises.

You may start to wonder if you are in the wrong yourself when accused of fraud or other concerns that cause a claims payment to be delayed; in fact, some policyholders could even find themselves on the other end of an investigation when they have done nothing wrong; for example, if you have had a fire in your home and need to file a homeowner’s claim, you may be horrified to find yourself on the other end of an arson investigation.

Such measures allow insurance companies to hold out on paying off big claims though. While there are often valid reasons for questions to arise or for a claim to be delayed, if the insurer is acting in bad faith there are red flags to watch for—whether you are dealing with your own insurer or that of another party. You may find yourself being asked to fill out repetitive paperwork or come up with voluminous amounts of documentation. Other forms of intimidation may be more aggressive such as unnerving witnesses or using tactics to persuade you to take whatever settlement they offer. Producing a low-ball offer and then making it sound like it is the only one you are going to get, in a now-or-never stance, is one of the most common tactics seen by bad faith insurers, and you should not be dealing with such behavior alone! With good legal advice and a skilled attorney behind you, there is a much better chance of getting the settlement amount you deserve.

Other more glaring bad faith tactics are changing the details of your policy without you knowing (apparently) or translating them different all the sudden, delaying payment without any valid reason, and of course—denying your claim outright.

Speak with an attorney from the Bolender Law Firm to review your options. We 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!

trade secrets

Trade Secrets & When Protection Becomes Void

The realm of intellectual property may seem vast, but the bottom line is that it only applies to the branding of your business and what you need in terms of logos, slogans, service information that you want the public to be aware of, and then protection of artistic works and inventions. Most businesses do begin building a brand right away, along with creating information that may need to be copyrighted. Technically, the definition of what is protected by copyright is an artistic expression of work. This can be relevant to a business in many cases though, from certain marketing materials to legal documents to computer programs, spreadsheets, works of architecture, and so much more. This type of intellectual property protection is crucial when you are expending large amounts of money and time on important projects, and when you must worry about infringement by competitors.

Protecting trademarks and service marks is just as vital, to avoid theft of branding mechanisms that play a vital role in helping customers (sometimes around the world) remain familiar with what you offer, whether goods or services. Patents protect what you may be creating within your business, giving you exclusive rights to manufacture and sell your invention for up to 20 years.

All intellectual property is related to trade secrets, which the United States Trademark and Patent Office considers to be the ‘fourth form of intellectual property,” as follows:

“Trade secrets consist of information and can include a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process. To meet the most common definition of a trade secret, it must be used in business, and give an opportunity to obtain an economic advantage over competitors who do not know or use it.”

And although it may be assumed that your employees realize they should not be giving out any information about the trade secrets of your business, think again! People talk, competition is fierce, and without proper legal protection, your trade secrets could walk right out the door. Protection of your trade secrets can be diminished if you do not take care of them properly though. This means securing and identifying them properly, using caution in terms of any accessibility, and making sure that everyone who works with you knows that such information must stay within the business. Without such measures, you may lose all protection of trade secrets, in line with guidelines from the USPTO.

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

bad faith

Bad Faith Insurance Claims: Defining ‘Timely Compensation’

If you have filed a claim recently, you probably expected attention to the issue—and quickly; after all, isn’t this what you have experienced in the past before when you were in a car accident and adjusters wanted to get the matter settled—or if you were at fault? No matter what has happened, insurers are expected to respond to the matter expediently. If you are the receiving end of bad faith practices on the part of an insurance company, you may be shocked at such behavior. Unfortunately, however, it is all too common today that policyholders receive unfair treatment at the hands of companies bringing in billions of dollars while you wait

After fulfilling all the requirements asked of you upon purchasing a policy and working with an insurance agent, you are probably extremely frustrated to find that what you are receiving in reward for paying all your premiums is, the possibility of nothing. If you are in that position, however, seek legal help from a skilled bad faith insurance lawyer from the Bolender Law Firm as soon as possible to get the protection and financial compensation you are owed. Fighting a big insurance company is not something you want to do on your own, and especially if you are just hearing crickets after filing a claim for what could have been a devastating accident or issue at your business.

In California, if you have filed an insurance claim, the company you are with should have contacted you within 15 days, with an outcome communicated to you within 40 days; of course, this is based on the insurer receiving proof of the claim too. If they do communicate to you that they are accepting the claim, you should receive the payment within 15 days.

Otherwise, be aware of the red flags to watch out for regarding bad faith, such as lack of action from the insurance company, but many requests for you to produce documentation. This is a common intimidation tactic, as they hope that they will ask for more information than you have can find or have time to produce. The insurer may also try to intimidate witnesses who are willing to speak up in your defense, as well as trying to convince you that whatever low figure they are offering as a settlement is the only one you will probably get—and you should take it quickly.

If you need help reviewing your insurance policy, or 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!

Are Differing Management Styles Wrecking Your Business Partnership?

A business partnership may be one of the most important relationships you have in life, and it helps if your management styles are in sync. From the beginning, one or more other individuals may be part of that spark, that inspiration, and the business model that leads to founding a new company, along with changing your life forever. And while much of your enthusiasm and continued involvement in a business will be based on success as the years go on, it is vital to put just as strong a foundation under your partnerships as you do your company overall.

Your personality will have a lot of bearing on your style at work, whether you are operating as the CEO, upper or middle management, or working in a creative or technical capacity. You may have a tendency to be a more autocratic leader, while one of more of your partners prefer to consult with employees routinely about matters, offering a more democratic atmosphere at work, as well as mentoring those you work with, coaching them along in their career and taking joy in watching them grow as individuals—benefiting your company in turn as they are a happy and valuable part of your team.

Conflicting management skills can be the precursor to dissolution of or the diminishing of a partnership, much like that of a typical family dynamic. Along with that, managing of finances in the business, clients, marketing strategies, and so much more requires fluid teamwork and partnership. Without positive support from your main people, your business may flounder—and fast. All these issues can begin eroding your work life and continue to cause negative repercussions, which is why it is critical to head off such problems initially with the business partnership. By outlining your specific titles and roles, you know what is expected of you within the company, as well as what you will be paid, when and how profits are distributed, and what happens in the case of a dissolution; more importantly, there should be a dispute resolution clause written into your contract, detailing how any legal disputes would be handled, where, and who would pay for attorney’s fees.

Do you have questions about a business issue, or do you need legal assistance regarding 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!

mediation

Why Is Mediation So Popular in Settling Business Disputes Today?

Mediation is the key to success for many disputes today. Most cases which end up in mediation are resolved successfully, and that is saying a lot when you consider how bumpy the road can be in some litigation—although that is the necessary route all too often. And while business owners may choose to resolve legal issues through ADR once a disagreement has erupted, this type of dispute resolution is often outlined in business and partnership contracts initially. There’s no better time to decide how an argument will be handled than when everyone is getting along. A dispute clause may even cover specifics like where mediation (or arbitration or litigation) would be handled regarding county, and who would pay any legal fees should they arise.

While the courtroom often brings forth a more adversarial attitude, mediation allows for a casual and relaxed setting that can be conducive to settling. Although there are costs involved with hiring a mediator, the process is usually exponentially less, making it more affordable. Resolution is usually reached much faster too; in fact, many issues are resolved in as little as hours or just a few days. The mediator does not decide the case for the parties at odds, but helps guide them in finding a compromise, as well as pushing them along should an impasse occur. At that point, the mediator kicks into action with ideas for ‘thinking outside the box.’

Businesses with equal resources usually do best settling in mediation. A cell phone company forcing a consumer into mediation may lead to a difficult and expensive ordeal for the average individual (and this happens all too often, unfortunately), while for two businesses it can be extremely advantageous as they may have relationships they want to preserve over the long run—especially when the bottom line is involved.

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!

domain names

Intellectual Property: The Differences Between Domain Names and URLS

While intellectual property may seem intimidating to some, the basics are simple when it comes to understanding the separation between items like trademarks and service marks, copyrights, and patents. But as you work to build your brand, other elements that cannot be ignored come into play also—and are just as important (if not more so) to protect.

These days nearly every business requires a website, including domain name and URL. The domain name is often the name of a company, but they may have many different URLs within that for different divisions and pages, and more. The URL (which stands for uniform resource locator) is the actual address (like https://bolender-firm.com) and there are probably many that you are familiar with and use routinely. In establishing intellectual property, you will need to choose a domain—along with hundreds of thousands of other businesses. Like your business name, this should be catchy. In many ways it will become your identity, and is part of adding to your professional look, as well as your brand.

Protecting your domain name once you have it may become a bigger priority for some than others, but in most cases, it is something you would be deeply concerned about losing; in terms of copyright protection, however, that is only available to intellectual property such as written works like poetry or screenplays, architectural works, software, and more.

Domain names are not protected or approved or licensed by the U.S. Copyright Office but they do recommend working with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an organization that performs domain system management. In some cases, however, they can be protected by trademark, and while this is good for you once you have a name, as you are choosing one, be careful that it is not protected by a trademark—and this goes for businesses or websites operating in other countries too.

Intellectual property can become one of your biggest assets over the years, and it must be held in value on the same level as other tangible. If you are a new business, seek legal help in applying for copyrights to protect a variety of different works, trademarks and service marks to protect your brand, and patents to protect inventions—whether they were created by you, a full-time employee, or an independent contractor you may have hired on a project-to-project basis.

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

 

insurance bad faith

I Have Done Nothing Wrong: Dealing with Insurance Bad Faith

The contract you make with your insurer is a very serious one, and finding yourself in the midst of insurance bad faith can be devastating; after all, consider how they treat your promise to them. It all begins with a need, whether you have purchased a car or home or need to protect your health, business, livelihood, or more. You may have done extensive research regarding what lines of insurance you require, but the whole process begins upon seeking out an insurance agent, getting quotes, and then making sure you are working with someone who possesses the proper licensing, knowledge, and experience. After you and your agent figure out all the necessary details and you apply and are approved, you write a check, and receive a policy in the mail.

Most policies end up in a drawer, a file, or left in your very important e-mails section, not to be seen again until there is a question or a claim. Premiums, however, will be at the top of everyone’s minds as you must mail yours in either monthly, quarterly, or annually—and your insurance company will be expecting it. This is how you keep up your end of the bargain, along with keeping them informed of any changes that should be made to your policy along the way. If you do not keep up with your part of the agreement, be assured that your policy will be canceled with the utmost expediency.

So why is it okay for the insurance company to behave badly when it comes to paying your claim? Of course, it is not okay, and you do have recourse with the help of an experienced bad faith insurance attorney from a firm like the Bolender Law Firm. As a hardworking policyholder, you may be extremely frustrated to have paid all your premiums on time, only to be left hanging for an insurance payout after a car accident, serious damage to your home, or an incident at your business which resulted in a claim. While enduring bad faith practices from your insurer can be a devastating experience due to the need to pick up your life again, don’t take it personally—this is probably how they often do business, and sadly, it is why they are so rich.

Bad faith practices commonly include major delays without any reasonable excuse, excessive requests for excessive documentation, low-ball offers, intimidation regarding taking what settlements are offered, outright denials, and more.

If you need help reviewing your insurance policy, or 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!