Mediation Could Allow Everyone to Move on with Their Lives More Quickly

Most private individuals enjoy very little about being involved in a legal dispute or spending time in the courtroom. While tempers may run high in the beginning and the urge is there to fight, to sue, and to win, being in a highly adversarial situation and conflict can be extremely draining. While litigation does have its place and sometimes is the only solution for settling a serious issue, many individuals may overlook mediation, and miss out on a much more streamlined way to solve a problem. Not only that, parties who agree to mediation are usually much more motivated to reach a settlement—with the help of a neutral mediator who is able to assist in clarifying details and keeping the process moving along with a good flow.

Not only does mediation help parties in dispute move on more quickly, but the pace at which they reach a resolution could also be exponentially faster. Rather than spending weeks or even months tied up in scheduling with the courts, postponements, and more, the mediator usually meets with everyone involved ahead of time, gains an understanding of the issues at hand and what originally led to the dispute. The mediator is also in charge of setting and time and location for the proceedings—usually offering flexible scheduling and a more relaxed and casual setting that is conducive to an open discussion. In some cases, mediators may even offer to meet with everyone after hours to make up for busy schedules.

Other benefits of mediation are that it is completely confidential, and the parties involved in the dispute have complete control over what happens, while the mediator may step in intermittently to help. And while mediation may not be free, the costs in comparison to that of litigation are exponentially less. The timeframe is exponentially less too; in fact, an agreement could be made within mere hours. Mediation usually works, and it can also be a great benefit for the future as relationships that may have already been long-standing or preserved.

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!

 

witness

Understanding the Role of the Witness in a Car Accident Case

If you have recently been in a car accident or even if you were just witness to a terrible wreck, you may be going through one of the toughest times of your life; in fact, even a minor fender bender can cause trauma too as you may keep reliving the event in your mind, from the surprise of the crash to hearing the sound of squealing tires, breaking glass, and feeling the subsequent flow of adrenaline that can take quite some time to subside.

More serious accidents may result in emotional harm, as well as causing major physical injuries such as concussions or traumatic brain injuries which could be long-lasting or even permanent, spinal injuries which could result in partial or complete paralysis, soft tissue damage, broken arms and legs requiring surgery, cuts and contusions, and much more.

If you have filed a claim against the other party’s insurance due to their negligence, you may be very concerned about the outcome. And witnesses could play a critical role; in fact, they may make or break a case due to what they saw. Usually, such individuals can offer an expanded view of the incident. This can be incredibly helpful, as otherwise, it is just your word against that of the other party—although evidence may be in place that is compelling too.

If it looks like your case is going to trial, you may be relying on one or more individuals who were there and saw what happened during the accident. The key is to approach them on the scene, directly afterward, as these are people you may never see again. That may not have been possible if you were seriously injured, and witnesses could simply walk away with no one ever even knowing they were there unless law enforcement spoke with them and asked for their contact information, including it in the police report.

It is important to understand that the witness is not under any obligation to testify in your case. They are not legally obligated to give you their information, speak with you further, or unfortunately, help you in any way. The hope is that most people will understand how important their viewpoint is, especially because they should be neutral with absolutely nothing to gain, giving a third-party report.

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 levels. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

exclusions

Exclusions are Written into Policies to Protect the Insurer—Know What They Are!

As a policyholder, it is critical to understand exactly what you are paying for, and what is covered in the case of an accident or event that requires you to file a claim. Although the process sounds simple enough if, for example, you are going to buy a new home: one of the initial steps is to begin researching insurance and then purchase a policy. In order to protect your assets, the process may be anything but easy though. Unless you have purchased many homes before or dealt with other insurance policies, you may have quite an education ahead of you as you attempt to protect your assets—and especially as over the years insurance companies have become even more savvy about protecting themselves.

Beginning with finding the proper insurance agent to work with, you may embark on a new business relationship with someone who will be assisting you for the rest of your life. You may have discovered your insurance agent through word-of-mouth, advertising, or other professional avenues—but don’t be afraid to conduct ‘interviews’ to make sure you have the right fit, especially if your insurance needs are more complex and will probably continue to be so throughout the years.

In other cases, gaining insurance may be as easy as making a phone call and discussing your requirements over the phone. You may not ever even meet the person helping you attain insurance, but the important note is to make sure that you are being provided with exactly what you need. The worst mistake you can make is to go forward with an agent who does not know what they are talking about, or one who lacks serious experience. Most likely, you are protecting assets that you worked very hard for—and chances are you do not want to put them in unskilled hands.

The insurance policy is a legal document, and obviously it is not particularly exciting to read; however, you must understand details like exclusions, and how they could affect you later. A good example of an exclusion on a homeowner’s insurance policy would be earthquake coverage. For something like this, it is important to know what types of disasters your home is not covered for and whether you may need to buy additional coverage, or an additional policy. Storm coverage is another area where there may be different exclusions for wind or flood.

Understanding your insurance policy and the exclusions that may be held within is about more than simply educating yourself and being forced to read a long and perhaps boring document, but it is also about the difference between being fully covered or having to pay an enormous out-of-pocket expense.

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!

Trademark v Service Mark: Do I Need Both?

Intellectual property can be so confusing that many of us struggle to understand the delineation between the trademark, copyright, or patent, and all the different applications, registrations, and approvals that must be met simply to protect our branding mechanisms, our work, and our ‘artistic expressions,’ often which may have great value. The choices—and the process for registering can be complicated, which is why you should consult with an experienced attorney from the Bolender Law Firm as soon as possible.

The trademark is unusual as it also encompasses the service mark. For dynamic businesses of today participating in a world economy (and especially with the advent of the internet and online marketing and shopping), one or the other may be critical for marketing purposes. The trademark is one of the most common forms of intellectual property. Like all other types of intellectual property, it becomes yours as soon as the IP comes into existence; in other words, as soon as you create a mark designating the product that your company sells, you are in full ownership of it. Questions only arise should someone infringe on your creation, and then you are forced to ask them to cease and desist, or take further legal action.

More specifically, the service mark helps customers recognize the services that you offer—and because of the separation between the service mark and the trademark, familiarizing consumers with your products, it is completely possible that you could need both in terms of branding your company. Again, your intellectual property attorney can help you search whether or not there are other identical or extremely similar marks already out there that could cause your application to be rejected. If the mark is considered to be obscene or if it contains a symbol that could be the same or similar to that of a government seal of any sort, it may also be rejected by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Filling out the proper applications and registration for any type of intellectual property can be arduous, sometimes expensive, and the approval process may take a long time. Because of this, you should have the help of your intellectual property attorney, who can educate you fully on the process as well as discussing your true needs in terms of IP protection.

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!

 

contract

Five Tips to Make Sure Your Contract is Airtight

While it is generally true that contracts can be broken—that usually does not occur without repercussions and sometimes severe financial and legal penalties. Walking away from obligations is never a good idea and allowing yourself to be vulnerable to the complications of a broken contract could be dangerous for both your financial standing and the health of your business overall. If you are a business owner, you will probably sign many contracts over the years—whether with employees and independent contractors, vendors, partners, or other entities.

There is little point in creating a contract, however, if is not as solid as possible. Here are five tips to achieve an airtight contract:

  1. Be serious about the finest of details – this begins with outlining everyone involved in the contract, down to any dates of expiration for a business relationship, whether that is for a contractor, vendor, or someone else or another company.
  2. If possible, include specific dates for any required payments. Finances are not a subject that should be left open to interpretation! Whether the contract is relying on you to make payments or for someone to pay you, this should never be left open to ambiguity.
  3. Add a dispute resolution clause – whether you would settle a legal dispute using litigation, arbitration, or mediation, you can outline that clearly in this part of a contract, with the potential for saving monumental headaches later. Here, you can even be specific about where dispute resolution would take place, and who would pay any possible attorney’s fees. Alternative dispute resolution like mediation is extremely popular today for business disputes, and especially when the parties involved are interested in preserving a long-standing relationship.
  4. Be clear about partnerships – outline titles, job duties, financial information and profit disbursement schedules, as well as information or agreements regarding exit strategies and what happens if a partner dies.
  5. Discuss confidentiality – while this is important for full-time employees in many cases, it may be even more so for independent contractors—no matter what amount of time they work for you. And if your work is particularly sensitive, it may be necessary to have other sign a confidentiality agreement too.

Do you need legal assistance with a partnership issue or 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!

 

denial

Insurers May Reconsider Their Denial Once You Have a Lawyer

Most of us purchase insurance either because we are required to or because we are trying to protect our assets, warding off financial devastation in the event of a catastrophe, and never imagining a denial over a valid claim. Car insurance is a good example as so many states do require motorists to have insurance before they get on the road. Even in the face of no requirements for insurance, however, most responsible individuals will purchase coverage anyway, to fend off any impending financial disaster—hoping to avoid paying out thousands of dollars for what could just be a fender bender requiring new parts on the new car. The bottom line, no matter what—and for everyone involved in the end—is that insurance is all about money. In most cases, the insurance companies make out very well, collecting premiums without ever having to give anything back to the policyholder, meaning they look forward to one gold mind after another.

Insurance companies bring in billions of dollars in profits every year, and because they realize how lucrative it is not to pay claims, in many cases they do everything possible to keep their money in the bank. You may be paying for car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, commercial insurance, commercial vehicle insurance, general liability, professional liability, and a wide range of different premiums. It is rare today that anyone lives such a simple life that they are just paying for insurance on a car.

Once you have been affected adversely by an accident, damages, or if you were being sued at your business or are the defendant in a professional liability lawsuit, you expect to cash in on all those months—or years—of payments, and get some major help. This is the time when you expect the insurance company to follow through on all their promises, whether made to you in person by the insurance agent, through commercials, literature, or more. Unfortunately, much of that is simply marketing, and even the best insurer may delay or give you a hard time about paying out a substantial claim. It is, however, in your best interest to hire an experienced insurance lawyer and surprise the insurer. Suddenly, they discover that they are speaking with your attorney instead of you, and they may straighten up quickly. It is not a good idea to try and take on the insurance company on your own in any instance.

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!

bad faith insurers

Are Bad Faith Insurers Ever Really Punished?

If you are under the impression that the wealthy insurance company usually wins, you are right, but dealing with bad faith insurers is another story altogether. And for a consumer or policyholder to win a battle against a large corporation raking in billions of dollars each year, the odds are stacked against them if they do not have skilled legal representation from a firm like The Bolender Law Firm. If you are currently experiencing issues with your insurance company over an important claim, do not try to go it alone! Such an endeavor requires resources, an extensive base of knowledge and familiarity with such cases, along with years of expertise.

Bad faith practices from an insurer could consist of any number of disturbing and infuriating types of behavior—from the typical, outright denial (and in some cases with an adjuster denying a claim without even looking at it), to unreasonable delays that are frustrating and occur with no good explanation, and other ploys like requests for excessive documentation—even to include strange requests like tax returns. While such requests may be made primarily to discourage you from pursuing a case, such information can also be used against you if they are hoping to prove that you may have filed a fraudulent claim due to financial problems.

With the representation of a skilled bad faith insurance lawyer who will act in your best interest, punitive damages may be awarded by the court. And while there is some punishment for the insurer, it may not equal much more than the amount of money you already put in as a policyholder, in the long run. Even if they are forced to extend some cash at their own due to penalties, in most cases such financial punishment is still nominal in the face of the billions they are bringing in. Punitive damages are meant to hurt the insurer however, making an example of their negligence and misconduct, and discouraging them from acting in bad faith in the future.

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!

Intellectual Property Topics: How is the Trademark Enforced?

Whether you are applying for a trademark, copyright, or patent, intellectual property can be one of the most important assets you or your business will ever own. And although technically you own intellectual property as soon as you create it, without solid protection from the United States Patent and Trademark Office or the U.S. Copyright Office, you may have no legal recourse later in the case of infringement

Intellectual property, although required for many businesses to get ahead and to make a name for themselves in their industry, is a complex area of law and is often intimidating to business owners and individuals who may be creating a brand, or innovating in a wide range of products or services.
The trademark is necessary if you need to offer distinction between your products and those of other companies, as well as the services your business offers. The trademark is often also referred to as the brand-name, which makes sense as symbols like the ‘whoosh’ sign for Nike offer familiarity for consumers.

With the help of a skilled intellectual property attorney, you can search other trademarks and service marks, ensuring there is not already conflicting material registered. These types of searches are important so that you do not run into a legal issue later, allowing you to apply for a trademark without worry on your end, registering with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and then enforcing legal action against anyone who may attempt to infringe.

Keep in mind also that the service mark is a subset of the trademark category, delineating not products, but rather announcing what you do. If either of these are infringed on, and you do have your trademark registered, you have numerous options—but this is not the time to go it alone! With the help a skilled intellectual property attorney from The Bolender Law Firm, you can request that the other party stop using your branding mechanisms, and a court order may be issued. You may also see an order issued for the other party to get rid of the infringing items, you may be owed damages, and infringer may even be forced to pay attorney’s fees.

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!

Will Each Party Have an Attorney at Their Mediation?

There are so many benefits to mediation for business owners today that it is no surprise most of the outcomes are successful, but often they do require the presence of an attorney. While forced mediation in other cases—as commonly seen in divorce, for example—may be ineffective when the parties are not ready to come together and agree on a settlement, for business partners or those who have been in a working relationship for many years, mediation may be welcomed not only as a way to settle a dispute quickly and sometimes much more gracefully, but also to preserve what may be a friendship or a profitable partnership that could continue throughout the years.

The role of the mediator is not always easy, and although licensing is not required, they must bring great skill to the negotiating table in terms of remaining neutral but also knowing when to step in and help all parties involved communicate more clearly. To do so effectively, the mediator usually meets with each party before the process begins so that they can gain a clear understanding of the case. This usually means learning a little bit about each party, finding out how the dispute came about, and what goals need to be met overall for a settlement.

The relaxed, casual setting is usually conducive to promoting a better conversation between disputing parties, allowing for easier resolution; and while all of that may be true in your case, if you are concerned about a sizable amount of money or assets that are involved in the dispute, it may be in your best interest and that of your business, to have an attorney present at mediation. With the help of a skilled mediation attorney-and one who is in full support of the process, maybe spending a little more, but providing expert extra protection and added counsel during the process.

With an attorney inexperienced in mediation at your side, however, you could defeat the whole process, receiving the wrong type of advice for your situation and reducing the effectiveness of mediation overall. Consult with The Bolender Law Firm for skilled representation by an attorney who will support the process of alternative dispute resolution.

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!

patent

After the Patent Expires—Understanding the Public Domain

Intellectual property law is complex, and many entrepreneurs may not only feel too busy to understand IP in terms of application and registration, ownership—and ultimately, protection of the future—but they may also be intimidated by the entire process, and especially when filing a patent. No matter what though, IP is important to your own personal creations and those of your business. Intellectual property allows the global economy to thrive as invention and innovation are encouraged around the world. With your intellectual property duly protected, you also then have the free time required to focus on your business and expand research and development activity.

Patents can be extremely important for inventors, and especially valuable to a business focused on creating products and processes, for example. Dealing with a patent, and applying for one is best achieved with the help of an experienced intellectual property attorney who can help you determine what type of protection you actually need as well as searching to ensure there is not already a patent for an identical or similar invention. A skilled attorney will help you through the overall process of applying for a patent, as well as dealing with issues that may arise before you gain final approval. Getting a patent usually takes around a year or more, and you may have to jump through some hoops before you attain your goal.

But what happens if you go to all that effort, not only to bring forth innovation but then also to apply and register it, only to have your patent expires after around 20 years? While this can be good for the public domain in terms of innovations and processes that are in demand, you may be worried about what will happen once details of your invention emerge. And while you may be able to hold onto some of your trade secrets, once a patent is in the public domain that means that others have access to your prized work whether you wanted that to be the case or not.

There is also the chance that you may release your work into the public domain deliberately, allowing anyone to use it without permission—or you may release it into the public domain with restrictions on it too. None of these actions are recommended without the help of an experienced intellectual property attorney, however. 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!