intellectual property rights

What Are Intellectual Property Rights?

Copyrights, trademarks, service marks, and patents. It may be difficult to fully understand what each license offers to you as a business owner, artist, innovator, or inventor, but if you are in the process of creating new concepts, products, and services it is a good idea to protect such work. Interestingly, if you have created a work or expression of art, or a logo or a slogan, it is already yours (assuming no one else has the exact same branding mechanism, which is why you should do the research). Complications could arise though if another party were to start using your copyrighted material, for instance—without permission. Without filling out the proper applications with the U.S. Copyright Office or the United States Patent and Trade Office and getting the appropriate licensing, you have no legal avenue to sue for infringement if someone were to steal your work.

Speak with an experienced attorney from the Bolender Law Firm if you have intellectual property that needs to be registered. If you are just opening a business or just beginning to expand to the point where you need protection, it may include:

  • Trademarks & Service Marks – think of those companies that draw you in time and time again, along with offering a familiarity that becomes almost unconscious after we see a logo for so long. This is one of the most basic—and vital—elements of marketing, and that can apply to a business of any size. Registering your trademark through the United States Patent and Trade Office means you have legal recourse against anyone who tries to use it without your permission. This is the same with the service mark, which is a type of trademark; however, it denotes the services that your company offers and is often exemplified by a slogan—which may also (or not) be accompanied by a logo.
  • Copyrights – although these deal with protecting many different types of artistic expressions such as art, screenplays, and music, copyrights can obviously be very important for businesses too. Books can be copyrighted, along with software, architecture, and more, and are registered through the U.S. Copyright Office. Systems and methods of operation are not protected by a copyright but fall under patents.
  • Patents – these licenses are applied for through the United States Patent and Trade Office and allow inventors to protect their work for around 20 years. The following may be registered with a patent: processes, machines, articles of manufacture, compositions of matter.

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!

adjuster

Who Will the Insurance Adjuster Interview During the Claims Process?

If you are going through a difficult time right now due to a catastrophic event, it may add enormous insult to injury to realize you now also have to go through the hassle of an insurance claim. Your policy was purchased to begin with as protection against financial ruin should something go wrong, but it can be easy to lose sight of that while you are in the process of filing a claim. And especially if the insurance company seems to be causing delays, or even obviously acting in bad faith against you.

Once a claim begins, your case will be assigned an adjuster who will call to start collecting details. If this is a case involving negligence from the other side, they will want to interview you as well as the other party, along with any witnesses (keeping in mind that it is always important to get the contact information of anyone relevant on the scene as that may be the only time you will ever see them and they could end up being vital to your case). If, however, you were in an automobile accident due to negligence of another driver, the adjuster will be keenly interested in interviewing you; in fact, they may even ask if they can record the call. Along with that, they may ask you for the police report, medical records, and other information.

Always refer an adjuster from the other party’s insurance company to your injury attorney. If you do not have an attorney, it is highly recommended that you seek one out as soon as possible rather than going it alone against the insurance company—and divulging anything to the adjuster could be significantly detrimental to your case. If you or your attorney are not getting anywhere in the claims process, the insurer could be guilty of practicing bad faith against you, evidenced by no progress due to a lack of investigation or ongoing, unexplained delays. Other signs of bad faith include asking you for an overwhelming amount of information and documentation (in hopes to discourage you), offering a completely unreasonable offer, or denying the claim altogether.

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!

health insurance

Even Doctors May Forgo Health Insurance These Days

Health insurance is a big topic in the US today, and often a controversial one, encompassing our personal lives as well as the politics of the nation. Affordability is the major challenge for many—and without the proper coverage in place, many are just forced to go without care. Along with that, medical bills are the number one reason that so many consumers in the US are forced to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. One illness or accident can be incredibly debilitating, but those affected may not be able to work either—taking the devastation beyond the physical realm. Health insurance is supposed to protect against financial ruin, but today that is not always the case—and while some consumers go without simply because they cannot afford it, some doctors and nurses are beginning to doubt its worth altogether.

Most of us associate physicians with health—and often, affluency. So, it is somewhat shocking to hear that larger numbers of medical professionals are beginning to self-insure simply because what they end up paying out over the year for medical care is less than what insurance premiums would have cost. Recent news shows that a surprising number of doctors and nurses see the health insurance system as a ‘broken model’ no longer worth adhering to, despite the obvious financial risks.

“You would think that these are educated folks who understand they’re limited in their ability to predict what kind of health events might happen to them down the road,” said Sabrina Corlette, research professor at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. “On the other hand, there’s certainly a tipping point when premiums keep rising.”

Medical professionals without health insurance may seem to be a strange irony, but like many other consumers in the US, they also tire of dealing with large companies, high premiums, and many of the headaches that come with filing claims—only to have trouble seeing them paid or being forced to provide excessive documentation. Some insurance companies may practice outright bad faith by not even going so far as to investigate claims, causing ongoing delays for paying, offering low-ball offers, or denying outright.

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!

preference beneficiary clause

Preference Beneficiary Clause: Understanding Life Insurance

You may have heard the saying that life insurance is for the living; however, if beneficiaries are not set up correctly, that could prove futile. Many of us would rather not think about having to buy any type of insurance, and especially when it forces us to examine our mortality further, along with what can sometimes be a challenging chore in dividing up assets. Life insurance can be an excellent investment tool though, allowing you to help your kids and other family members later. They may have college tuition to pay for, along with other necessary expenses. Your surviving spouse may need help getting by without your income after you die. Debt and taxes often need to be paid off—and the burden of the funeral and burial expenses should be taken care of too.

Once life insurance is in the process of being paid out by the insurer you chose, you won’t be around to doublecheck, which is why it is critical to make sure all the details are correct when it comes to your beneficiaries. If one or more is not specifically chosen, a clause such as the preference beneficiary clause will take over, giving preference to a list of provided names on the policy. In most cases, naming your beneficiary should be a simple task—along providing a contingent beneficiary who only receives funds if the primary beneficiary is no longer alive at the time that the life insurance claim is filed.

Insurance companies are expected to act in good faith when paying a life insurance claim, but in some cases, there may be challenges for beneficiaries when it comes to receiving their money. Because life insurance often involves large amounts of money, an insurer acting in bad faith may do everything possible to see the policy rescinded—especially if they can prove details on the application were erroneous or fraudulent, or if premiums had lapsed for one or more payments. Other signs of bad faith include lack of investigation or no processing of the life-insurance claim, long delays with no real explanation, low-ball offers, and complete denials of claims.

If you need help reviewing your life 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!

insurance agent

Five Tips for Finding the Best Insurance Agent

Unless you know an insurance agent, it can be difficult to find someone who loves insurance. Although having the peace of mind and protection that insurance offers can be well worth it, most of us groan at the thought of having to purchase this safeguard—whether you are shopping for auto insurance, homeowner’s insurance, life insurance, liability insurance…and the list goes on. It’s rare that anyone can get by without at least one form of insurance, and although you can purchase some easily online (auto, for instance), for most other plans you will need to speak to an insurance agent—and this can be a challenging task at times.

Here are five pointers to help you find the best fit with an agent:

  1. Seek a word-of-mouth referral from trusted friends – this is often the best way to find an insurance agent who is both trustworthy and competent. If they have been working for your friends for years, you may have also found yourself an insurance agent who can help you over time as your needs continue to expand.
  2. Do your research first to make sure they know what they are talking about – while years of experience certainly help, make sure your agent is well-versed in the types of insurance you need to buy. If they were to make a mistake in your policy or forget certain coverages, you could be in for a major headache in trying to rectify the situation—and you may even end up having to sue.
  3. Make sure they are enthusiastic about the product, and about answering the list of questions you may have – you want to work with an effective communicator. Again, do your research and know what questions to ask so you can pick both the policy and agent that will work best for you. Plan to interview more than one agent for this important job.
  4. Check out their office – is it well-appointed and organized? This could speak volumes about their organizational skills, which are vital in the insurance business.
  5. Licensing – don’t be afraid to ask for proof of credentials. You agent should be properly licensed for all lines of insurance you require.

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!

car accident

Do Not Delay Seeking Medical Help If You Are Injured in a Car Accident

While tens of thousands are killed in the US each year due to car accident injuries (last year, those numbers hovered around 40,000 deaths annually), there are millions of traffic incidents each year. And as the numbers of motorists continue to grow, so do car crashes, along with motorcycle accidents, and those involving pedestrians and bicyclists too. Nothing is worse than hearing that sickening thud or screeching wheels as your car is hit by another motorist—but the best outcome is that of a harmless fender bender. And although that is a common occurrence on the roads, far too often there are accidents resulting in concussions or traumatic brain injuries, neck and spinal injuries, broken bones, and more.

As drivers, most of us will experience several car accidents in our lifetimes. That isn’t something most of us like to think about much. Having a healthy amount of respect for the dangers of the road and driving defensively is vital though, especially as the numbers of distracted drivers seem to grow—even with so much public safety information out there today warning about the potential for catastrophe in texting and driving along with other activities such as talking on cell phones, fiddling with other electronics, eating, engaging with passengers, and more. Distracted drivers—along with drunken, reckless, and speeding motorists—are still responsible for far too many accidents and deaths.

In the unfortunate case that you are in a car accident, after pulling over (if that is possible), ascertain whether anyone in the car has injuries. While it may be obvious that you or one or more passengers require an ambulance, if there is any question at all seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you are suffering from an injury, but delay in having treatment, that could result in a big question mark for the insurer—and especially if you were hit due to the negligence of another motorist with the potential for a serious lawsuit or settlement.

Make sure to file the claim directly following the accident and your visit to the hospital or doctor, and consult with a skilled injury attorney who will be able to speak with insurance adjusters on your behalf.

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

Bad Faith: How Can It Be Proved in Claims Denial?

In some cases, buying insurance may be as easy as making a call, getting coverage, and paying up—only to put policy information in a drawer where it rarely comes up again. Depending on the type of insurance though, there could be other policies that involve a lot of consideration and effort on both your insurance agent’s part as well as yours; for instance, business insurance may be complex, or your home may in an area that needs extra coverage for wind or flooding or even earthquakes or landslides.

Bad Faith Practices May Be Marked by Ongoing Delays

From deciding what to buy, to parlaying cash for large premiums, and then going through a difficult claims process, you may have a sour taste in your mouth about insurance overall. You aren’t alone either as thousands of policyholders around the US have difficulty in getting claims paid for auto insurance, life insurance, general liability, and more. There is a difference though between going through what can be the normal hassle of getting paid and dealing with an insurance agency acting in bad faith. If you are concerned that the insurer has an agenda other than paying your claim expediently—and fairly—contact an experienced firm like the Bolender Law Firm as soon as possible.

Even if an insurer is acting in bad faith, the process may seem to start out normally with the adjuster asking questions (hopefully these are directed toward your attorney and not you), requesting reports, and working on a settlement. In some cases, the insurer may fail to even investigate the case at all—and as time drags on, that is a major red flag for any policyholder! If you are forced to sue an insurer for bad faith practices, it can usually be proved by pointing out that there was indeed a lack of any investigation or any care about the claim along with other practices such as offering a lowball settlement for a claim that is clearly worth much more, delaying a payout beyond the expected amount of time, or denying it altogether.

The Insurer May Hope You Will Give Up

Other bad faith practices put pressure on the policyholder, hoping they will just give up as they are forced to produce excessive amounts of paperwork. Policyholders may even be subjected to verbal abuse or threats in more extreme cases. Although again it is highly recommended that you have your attorney speak with the insurer, if you are in contact with customer service representatives, agents, or adjusters during a claims process that seems to be going south, save all documentation and take notes regarding dates, times, and content of all conversations.

Contact Us for Help Now!

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!

mediator

The Mediator is a Facilitator—Not a Judge

Mediation is a popular form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for parties engaged in a wide range of different lawsuits or issues. In some legal cases in California (and other states too), the courts may even require mediation as an intermediary measure. You may have experienced this previously during a divorce or other civil proceeding; however, most mediations are voluntary and that is often the secret behind their success.

Neutrality is Central to Mediation

And while there are many pros to outweigh the cons of mediation, neutrality on the part of the mediator is one of the biggest benefits. The mediator could indeed be an attorney or a retired legal professional (although they do not require a license and may even be specialized in other areas that are of help to your case) but in a mediation these professionals are required to maintain a completely neutral demeanor, working with you and the other parties involved to assist you in reaching an agreement.

Voluntary mediations are often quite successful for business owners who may have become involved in a dispute with another company or merchant, a vendor who provides continual supplies, full-time employees, independent contractors, and more. If you are involved in such a scenario, mediation may become an attractive alternative to litigation for many reasons. Most importantly, if this is a long-standing working relationship, mediation may be a way to resolve the problem and even allow you to continue working together later. At the very least, the adversarial quality may be removed from the process, allowing for a more frank and relaxed discussion of the issues at hand. The mediator is there to help you and other disputing parties take a closer look at the reasons for the disagreement, as well as keeping everyone focused.

The Mediator Does Not Decide the Case

If a stalemate seems to be occurring, the mediator will often have to come up with more creative ways to keep the mediation moving along. Their role is not to decide the case, but rather to make sure both sides understand all the details of the dispute, allow everyone to be heard, and examine all the available options. Once an agreement has been reached and the mediator drafts and has all the required documents signed, the process is considered binding—with all parties involved beholden to keeping up their end of the settlement.

Other benefits to mediation include greater affordability, speed in reaching resolution (this could be just a matter of hours, instead of days or weeks expended in the courtroom), and confidentiality.

Contact Us for Help Now!

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!

typical bad faith practices

Typical Bad Faith Practices & Why Insurers Use Them

When you buy an insurance policy, mutual promises are being made between you and the insurer. In exchange for payment of your monthly, quarterly, or annual premiums, you are given protection in the form of insurance coverage—whether that is for health, life, home, business, or more. And while some insurance may be required, other types are just recommended, and rightly so as coverage could mean the difference between saving your home or business or finding yourself in catastrophe both property-wise and financially too.

Insurance is not only important to our finances, but often our livelihoods too. Because of this, as consumers in the US we take it very seriously and expect to be backed up by our insurers when something goes wrong. Unfortunately, in some cases there may be loopholes in policies, errors, or general misunderstandings regarding coverage. To have a claim denied can be devastating in some circumstances, and this is even more frustrating if you believe the insurance company is acting in bad faith. You may have done due diligence in shopping for policies, assessing your needs, finding a good agent, and updating policies quarterly or annually depending on changes.

Why would an insurance company act in bad faith? While it is atrocious behavior that often leaves policyholders feeling like they have nowhere to turn, the reasoning behind their actions is usually as simple as greed. Insurers churn out billions of profits each year, and they don’t do so by giving out large discounts or giving anything away; in fact, most premiums are on the increase—both continually and substantially so.

Bad faith practices, whether emanating from agents, adjusters, or other customer service representatives, must be reported and the insurer must be held accountable for such unethical actions. Typical red flags alerting you to something awry with your claim include ongoing delays; in fact, you may be shocked to find that investigative measures have not even been taken at all regarding your claim. If an effort is made to settle your claim, the amount offered may be unreasonably low, and you may find discrepancies between what your policy states and what the adjuster says. You may be wrongfully accused of fraud, asked to bring forth unreasonable amounts of unnecessary amounts of documentation, or just denied altogether.

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 agreements

Business Partnership Agreements: Five Things to Include

You may be taking on a new business partner (or vice versa) in an existing company for numerous reasons, or upon founding a company, you and one or more individuals may be in it together, sharing all the stress—and the excitement–along with working on business partnership agreements. Going it alone in business can be difficult, forcing you to bear all the responsibility on your shoulders. And although that means not having to divide up as much financially if the company begins to thrive, there are so many benefits to having one or more partners. Finding capital to open the doors—and keep them open—is one of the greatest challenges in business ownership. But even more importantly, you and your business partner may have dreamt up your business model together, and there may have never been any question about working together in the future.

No matter who your business partner is though, a contract is necessary. Even if you have a solid plan and a verbal agreement in place, consult with experienced attorneys from The Bolender Law Firm for assistance in drafting a comprehensive written agreement so that all partners know what to expect from beginning to end. Here are five major details not to overlook:

  • Job titles – whether you decide to use conventional titles such as CEO or not, designate titles for each partner working within the company.
  • Delegation of responsibilities – while this may be something that changes from time to time, outlining work duties in the contract can prevent serious misunderstandings later, as well as warding off resentments from growing—assuming the details of the contract are being followed.
  • Pay and profit distributions – finances are one of the main issues that can land partners in court against one another, so this is another section of your partnership agreement which must be carefully thought out and prepared. Along with consulting your attorney, you may want to speak with an experienced accountant too.
  • Exit strategies – although this may seem awkward to discuss at first, it is a routine subject for many agreements, and knowing that a plan is in place can offer great peace of mind to everyone. Discuss what should happen to business shares in the company should a partner decide to leave. Also, decide ahead of time how to handle any partner’s shares should they die or become debilitated due to an illness or major accident. Even divorce should be discussed as there is the potential for a spouse to fight for a portion of business profits as they relate to personal assets.
  • Dispute resolution – this can be easy to overlook when everyone is getting along, but a dispute resolution clause allows you and your partners to decide ahead of time how to handle any potential legal issues. You can outline how a major disagreement is to be handled and where, whether through litigation or alternative methods such as mediation or arbitration, as well as deciding how any potential attorney’s fees would be paid.

If you are involved in a serious disagreement with partners or another business dispute, 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!