insurance premiums

Insurance Companies Rely on Insurance Premiums to Make Profits

If you filed an insurance claim recently and found the insurer lacking in their timely response, you may be outraged—not to mention disappointed, frustrated, worried, and a whole lot of other not so positive reactions to their behavior; After all, insurance premiums usually do not run cheap, and you may have had to work hard to make your payments in a continual and timely manner.

It could be devastating to invest so much money and trust in a large company and receive nothing in return at the time you need it the most. Homeowner’s insurance is a good example here. If you have paid in your money for homeowners insurance and had to file a claim, it may be imperative that you are paid as quickly as possible because your living arrangements may have become extremely uncomfortable or you may have even had to move out of your home. In the case of a fire, your home could have been rendered completely uninhabitable, or a portion of it may be burned—still making it exceedingly difficult to live in such a situation. If the insurance company does not seem to be paying any attention to your claim, you may be panicking. They may have even issued a denial outright. If ongoing delays or sudden denials are occurring, you should be receiving reasonable explanations.

If you are not getting anywhere with the insurer despite the urgent need to have a claim paid, most likely the issue is unrelated to their financial health. The insurance industry reports billions of dollars in profits every year, and most large companies are in healthy shape, living quite large off from policyholder premiums. That is how they make their money, and giving it away easily is certainly not a habit or their business model. In fact, insurers may make it as hard as possible for you to have your claim paid. And in the case of a claim like a fire at your home, you may even find yourself at the mercy of a fraud investigation unit—causing the panic to set it exponentially.

And while you may have had nothing to do with a fire at your home (it could have burned while you were not even there and had an ‘alibi’) such an investigation may be quite routine for the insurer. If you are concerned that the insurance company is going to try any method possible to get out of paying your claim, it is time to consult with a bad faith insurance attorney.

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!

 

mediation experience

What Type of Mediation Experience is Required for an Effective Resolution?

Mediation can be a real eye-opening experience for many people, especially with the realization that they can avoid the adversarial nature of the courtroom, not to mention the overwhelming expense, exorbitant amounts of time involved, and stress–all with the assistance of a professional with mediation experience The mediation usually occurs in a much more relaxed setting, and a mediator may even meet with the parties involved after hours due to work schedules or perhaps on a weekend.

In California, a mediator can hang out their shingle whether they have formal training or not. No license or degree is required, although many mediators are lawyers, or retired legal professionals. If you are engaged in a complex legal dispute, you may require a mediator with experience in the field, and one who has knowledge of the topic at hand; for instance, if finances are in dispute, you may want a mediator who actually does have a legal and/or accounting background.

The mediator’s greatest talents usually must lie in being able to take a backseat while disputing parties discuss the issues that landed them there. The mediator is not there to decide the case by any means. They do need to be extremely educated on the problem that brought everyone to mediation though, and this usually means that mediator meets with both parties, separately, before the mediation begins. This allows the mediator to compile information regarding the legal dispute and take some time to reflect on it before the process begins.

The mediator must remain neutral, but kick into high gear when a stalemate is reached. Depending on how severely communications have broken down, they will have to work with each party in discussing better ways to think about and resolve the dispute so they can agree to a settlement and move on. ‘Thinking outside the box’ often becomes a necessity, and mediators usually have an arsenal of skills to encourage this.

Along with knowing how to communicate effectively and help during an impasse, mediators are also responsible for completing all the legal documents at the end of the mediation, outlining what type of settlement has been agreed on and filing it with the court. Once all authorized parties have agreed and signed the settlement, it is considered a binding document.

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!

Intellectual Property: Who Needs to Apply for Service Marks?

Intellectual property spans many different items you may create for your business to promote your brand, or products you may invent that could become extremely valuable in the future. While many consumers perceive intellectual property as being a complex matter, branding mechanisms are fairly simple to understand; however, when it comes to protecting your intellectual property you should consult with an experienced business attorney who has had experience with whatever type of intellectual property you want to register.

Copyrights are a very common type of intellectual property, and many people get them confused with trademarks, or service marks. Copyrights protect artistic expressions that are created such as music or literature, or in terms of technology or business—software or architecture. Trademarks are vital to branding, and along with that usually comes a symbol that designates your business, allowing for familiarity with the public that is or will be buying your products. The trademark is an identifier of the goods you offer.

Service marks are a subset of the copyright, but rather than designating products, they are a symbol of the services you offer. The TM is used after a trademark, while the SM is used after a service mark; for either, the ‘R’ encased by a circle is important as it designates formal registration. This is important not only so that customers understand what services are offered, but by which company, and that the mark is protected legally.

The interesting detail about intellectual property is that ownership is technically established as soon as you make your own logo or your own slogan—or after you write that cookbook, a score of music, create new software, or invent something new. The problem is protecting it fully. If someone decides to steal your work intentionally, or if they create something similar—so similar that it is going to affect sales and distribution of your own work, for instance—having registered your intellectual property could be well worth it in case you have to communicate with the other party about ceasing activities revolving around such work, or worse, if you must sue them for infringement with the help of your attorney and take them to court.

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!

earthquake insurance

Insurance Topics: When Earthquake Insurance Is Excluded

Purchasing insurance is all about protecting ourselves, and earthquake insurance is a prime example for residents of states like California. In many cases, it may also be about protecting property like your vehicle, and those of family members living with you. You may need to protect your business, as well as purchase insurance to ward off financial ruin due to a negligence claim. You may even need professional liability insurance to protect you in the case of a lawsuit against you in your career.

Protection of the home is particularly important, and unique, because it not only protects what may be the largest financial investment you’ll ever make, but it protects a valuable shelter for you and your family. As the old saying goes ‘home is where the heart is,’ and to have something happen to that area can be financially devastating, but also emotionally devastating. Because of that, when you set out to buy a homeowners insurance policy, it is critical to work with an agent who is experienced, and can direct you not only to understanding what your needs are but helping you to purchase multiple lines if needed, or added coverage.

In California especially, earthquake insurance is a big topic upon purchasing homeowner’s insurance. Because of the incredible, catastrophic damage that can be done, and the possibility for real financial strife if an insurer were to have to pay out for many policyholders at an astronomical cost, your insurer may only offer earthquake coverage as an addition to the regular policy. Make it a priority to ask your agent about whether your policy will include it, or if you need to make an extra purchase. While this may seem like common sense, only a small percentage of Californians have earthquake insurance for their homes or businesses and many do believe it is included—only to find out later that they are left high and dry after a disaster.

If you do have a claim, and you did purchase extra coverage, the insurance should be expedient about sending out an adjuster to begin an investigation, collecting the facts from you, and getting a settlement back to you expediently—especially if you have lost your home or it has been rendered temporarily uninhabitable.

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!

patent

Understanding the Approval Process for Getting a Patent

Intellectual property is one of the more subtle assets you may own personally, or through your business, and especially with the patent. It can also be one of the more exciting ways to create branding mechanisms, whether you are creating stationary or letterhead for your company with your logo for trademarking, along with using a symbol denoting your goods in different types of logos or in a variety of different advertising forums. You may also be involved in creating artistic expressions that require copyrighting, whether you have made something personal like a work of literature or music, or a business item like software or architecture.

Patents can be more complex, more expensive, and take longer to attain (with the average time period being 21 months from the application date); however, chances are, the works you created took an extensive amount of time and are worth protecting from competitors. In applying for a patent, first you must understand the differences between the three types: design, utility, and plant.

A design patent is considered purely to be made for aesthetics:

“Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture,” states the USPTO.

The utility patent offers a use, and is categorized as functional:

“Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matters, or any new useful improvement thereof. By far, most patent applications filed at the USPTO are utility applications,” states the USPTO.

The plant patent:

“Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.”

Some inventions may be both aesthetically pleasing and functional, and you may want or need two different patents if the process is not too cost prohibitive. It is vital, however, to also make sure this invention is not one that has already been disclosed to the public, so you much do a search first—and the USPTO also recommends searching internationally. You can also find out more about costs here.

Dealing with and applying for patents if you do not have prior knowledge or intellectual property law knowledge can be difficult and it is in your best interest to hire a skilled attorney for help.

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 company

The Insurance Company Has Plenty of Money—Why Don’t They Pay My Claim?

Dealing with the insurance company can be frustrating. Even just handling the basic mechanics of the process can be a trial, from trying to find an insurance agent you trust, to dealing with an online service or chat format. After making your way through that first step, you must also attempt to understand your policy. No matter how many times you have bought insurance, and no matter what your educational background is, you may still find car insurance or homeowners insurance policies to read like a foreign language (one usually known as legalese).

After you have waded through buying an insurance policy and attempting to understand it comes the hard part: paying for it over the long haul. Protecting your property, life, and health certainly is not an inexpensive endeavor—and the insurance companies are more than happy to scoop up your money and put it in their coffers to earn interest. They are not empathetic or sympathetic friends, and they do not feel your pain when you may struggle to pay for a policy, or when you are suffering due to injuries from a car accident or the loss of extremely valuable property. There are many complications to insurance, and it affects us continually throughout life.

Most insurance companies are not hurting financially, so why don’t they pay a valid claim expediently? The answer is simple. They like to pay as little as possible, and for each claim, they want to spend as little time on it also. Insurance adjusters often get bonuses and extra commissions based on how many cases they can turn over with the least amount of settlement money paid out. In more extreme cases, exemplifying bad faith, insurance companies may act like you are the one at fault. Although a bad storm may have damaged your home, or you may have been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of others, the insurance company may spend an inordinate amount of time turning the tables on you. They may even accuse you of fraud.

Insurance companies who do not pay on claims could just be downright hard to deal with, or they may be engaging in bad faith. The bottom line is either they are not paying your claim because they have a valid reason which should be clearly outlined, they are slow to pay because they investigate every claim meticulously (to see if there is any way to get out of paying a settlement), or they may be blatantly acting in bad faith. If a substantial amount of time has passed, it is time to consult with an insurance attorney from an office like the Bolender Law Firm.

Other signs that you are dealing with bad faith include intimidation tactics such as offering you lowball settlements and then intimating that you would not be offered anything else and you better take what you can get, asking for excessive documentation in an effort to run you off, intimidating witnesses by grilling them or acting aggressively over the phone or in interviews, along with unreasonable delays, outright denials, or wild accusations of fraud.

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!

business partnership

The Business Partnership: Handling the Hierarchy

A business partnership may form for many different reasons. You may be working with someone that you have known almost your entire life, or for most of your business life anyway. A potential business partner may be someone you have worked with in college, innovating with technology or creating a unique business model. Some partners may come on at the founding of the company or later. They may be beneficial additions to the business as they complement your talents and those of others, offering different experiences and ways of doing things. Or perhaps they may be a partner offering to inject the company with capital—and hoping for a good return on their investment later.

The life of a business owner is very busy, overall—and while many entrepreneurs may find that to be a gross understatement—the bottom line is that you may not feel like you have a lot of time to spend on organizational duties for your corporation itself; however, building a solid foundation from the beginning helps promote a path to success later, and it is critical to take care of every aspect of that as soon as possible. This includes creating, reviewing, and signing partnership contracts as soon as any formal partnerships occur.

The partnership contract should consist of basic information regarding who is involved in one or more partnerships, along with any designated titles within the company. Whether you, or your partner, are CEO, CFO, COO, or any other type of officer, it should be noted in the contract. This allows for clear expectations within a business partnership, and especially if other specifics are listed in the contract such as delegation of duties. Creating and maintaining a hierarchy of the corporation results in clear expectations for everyone involved, wards off resentments later, and helps paint a solid picture for employees who should understand who is in charge, second in command, and holding positions on down the line.

The partnership contract should also include information like profit and loss distribution, information and agreements regarding how new partners will be taken on, as well as creating exit strategies for partners should they decide to leave the business. A dispute resolution clause should not be overlooked either as it is a great way to decide on how to handle any legal dispute ahead of time, including how legal fees are to be paid, and in what county such proceedings would be handled.

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!

Why Does It Take So Long to Get a Patent?

While designing a logo or coming up with a slogan or a patent for a new company may seem like a simple thing to do when you are first dreaming up your business model, intellectual property has the potential to become one of the most valuable things you will ever own; in fact, this is one of the biggest reasons you should have a skilled business attorney working with you in founding your company, as well as someone who is experienced enough to guide you in intellectual property matters — especially patents, which can be more complicated (and most would probably agree that the items being patented are more complicated to create too).

Although copyright law, trademarks, service marks, and more can be complicated, patents really can be complex to apply for and it is in your best interest to have legal help for the application process with the United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO). The process may be costly and can take some time. While it may seem inconvenient to have to wait so long for a patent to be approved, it is a comprehensive process on the part of the USPTO, with utility patents usually taking longer than design patents; in fact, they could stretch out even beyond five years from the date of application. A design patent usually takes around 18 months on average.

In working with an attorney, it may take up to several weeks just to have the application completed correctly. Keep in mind that while you are waiting for approval from the USPTO, the status on your invention will be ‘patent pending,’ and you can begin (or continue) making, selling, and even licensing your invention. You may also be able to pay for prioritized examination of your patent, but these slots are limited, coveted, and expensive.

The bottom line is, no matter how you go about the process, your intellectual property should be as protected as possible. For most items though, it becomes your intellectual property as soon as you create it. The only difference is that if you have not registered for something specific like a patent for an invention, it could be stolen by another interested (and greedy!) party, and you could have to fight to prohibit them from using your design. If you have protected your intellectual property with the proper applications and registration, you have a much better chance of winning in court.

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!

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Business Partnerships: Alternative Dispute Resolution May Be Helpful

Entering into a business partnership can be one of the most significant decisions you will ever make regarding a relationship; in fact, it may be a sad state of things today regarding marriage statistics—but all too true—to say that business partnerships often live out one marriage, or even more. And for many also, the business partnership is often built on long-term friendships, some that may stem back to childhood, college, or at least the early days. If your company is new, you and your business partner may have created a product, a business model, and a foundation for your company together.

No matter how solid your partnership or your company is in the beginning, however, a partnership contract is critical. Just as your company has a structure, your partnership should have one too, including boundaries, limits, and definitions regarding titles within the company and what each partner is expected to do, along with financial information such as whether shares are distributed equally, or not, when products are distributed, and any other details your attorney and/or accountant may suggest.
And although it may seem unnecessary in the beginning, having a dispute resolution clause spelled out in your contract can make a world of difference when a major dispute—and one that may even be headed to court—arises.

The great thing about such a clause is it allows you to agree on how you will possibly disagree later. You and your partner, or partners, can outline how any legal disputes will be put to rest, whether through litigation, or alternative dispute resolution such as mediation or arbitration. If there are attorney’s fees, the clause may outline who will pay them, as well as designating locations such as what county disputes would be settled in.

Alternative dispute resolution is often the best solution in the face of a legal dispute with a business partner, especially if you are invested in preserving the relationship. Mediation may be best, offering a casual atmosphere where the parties often feel more comfortable talking and are able to work things out much more quickly and affordably.

Do you need legal assistance with a partnership 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!

Potential Business Partners: What Do They Offer to the Company That You Cannot?

While millions of small businesses thrive in the US today, they exist in a vast array of different dynamics and types, from corporations to sole proprietorships, to partnerships, and more. If you have just founded a new company, you may be working with one or more individuals who you have known for quite some time; in fact, it is not unheard of for business partners to have known each other since they were kids, and the business may be a product of a dream that you even brainstormed about as kids. Finally opening a business probably seemed like a dream come true, and you still may be pinching yourself to see if it is really happening—and especially if the cash flow is positive.

There are many different trains of though and opinions on having business partners and business partnership contracts. Business partners can offer many different benefits to you and your company. If you created your business model and business product or services together, then your partnership model is probably very strong. If you are just opening your business later in life or bringing on a new partner after the business has been opened, it could be because you need more capital, and this partner will also function as an investor.

You may be bringing someone on because of their specific skills, and this could be invaluable to the success of your business later. Someone new coming into the company should complement your skills, rather than just matching them. No matter who you bring into your business is crucial to have the proper partnership contract drawn up so there are not questions later. The great thing about a business partnership contract is that you can even include a clause regarding dispute resolution. Trust us, it’s much better to do that while you are getting along, then later when there is already a legal dispute in progress.

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!