insurance companies

Insurance Companies Acting in Bad Faith Could Face Major Fines

It seems like insurance should be a simple business, right? The basic process is as follows: you hire an insurance agent to help you find the types of coverage you need, you buy a policy, you pay your premiums, and you go about your business with the policy hiding in a drawer or file cabinet somewhere (and if you are lucky, you will never have to look at it again). Meanwhile, the insurance company is collecting billions of dollars each year from policyholders, and you may never have filed a claim once in decades; however, if you have, you may shocked, and even panicking to discover that the insurer does not seem to be responding correctly.

As soon as you see red flags flying, warning you of bad faith practices, contact an insurance lawyer from a skilled firm like the Bolender Law Firm. Signs of bad faith may include a lack of investigation at all, or they may have called and spoken with you once, heard some of the facts surrounding the case, and just never called back. If you have filed an insurance claim and you have not been hearing anything back from an insurance adjuster, it is time to get worried and start making calls regarding the problem. If you’ve been denied with no good reason, you may have a case, and if the insurer has been trying to intimidate you or witnesses, that is another red flag.

The list of bad faith practice symptoms is quite long, but if your instincts are telling you there is a problem, you may very well be correct—and especially if communications from the insurer are few and far between.

With help of a skilled bad faith insurance attorney, you may need to take your case to court. This is a much more common occurrence than you think, and insurance companies can get in big trouble with the courts for bad faith; in fact, they could have to pay out many thousands of dollars in compensatory damages as well as punitive damages. You are owed such compensation if you were forced to go through the stress of waiting on a claim that was clearly not handled properly.

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!

insurance policy

Always Have a Copy of Your Original Insurance Policy

Most of us have one or more insurance policies tucked away somewhere, whether for our car(s), home, business or more. While this is one of the most important contracts you will ever sign, and an extremely important document, as a rule, insurance policies are something we rarely look at again—until there is an unfortunate event that causes us to file a claim. At that point, you may be scrambling to figure out which drawer or file cabinet you stashed the policy in years ago.

The hope is if you have a car accident and experience property damage and/or physical injuries, that the negligent party’s insurer would be contacting you as quickly as possible to make sure you were compensated. Sadly, this is often not the case if you have a substantial case that may require a lot of time and effort and enormous payout. If you’ve had a homeowner’s claim, you may be living in a very uncomfortable situation after a fire or a flood, with many of your belongings demolished. Your world may be turned upside down, and you will be on the hunt for that insurance policy without a doubt!

This is precisely why you should always have a copy of your insurance policy on hand. Although these days, it may be resting in your email, but remember that it is always best to have a copy printed out. You must be able to remind yourself of what is covered, as well as understanding what the insurer is going to expect you after you file a claim. If your home has been vandalized, most likely you are responsible for covering it up and attempting to prevent any further damage to the home, with the same happening after a flood or some other event that has left the home still standing, even if just partially.

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!

 

trademark

What Does a Trademark Actually Protect?

As a business owner, you will usually have an exhausting list of tasks on your plate, whether counted daily, monthly, or annually. You may even have many customers or clients who visit your business frequently and mention how wonderful it seems to own your own business. Often you may agree with them—and even encourage them to open their own businesses; however, many others of us find ourselves chasing that American Dream diligently, until we discover that it is extremely challenging to stay on top in the marketplace.

Most business owners are busy keeping up with the constant challenge of having enough capital, keeping the growing list of bills paid, and trying to keep everyone happy, managing employees, managing inventory, keeping the peace with partnerships, and the list goes on.

One area of protection and one major task that can be easily overlooked when your business is new, especially, and you are worrying about many other important things, is the trademark. The trademark is essentially, your brand. This may designate your products, with a logo or a symbol or even a mark on stationary. Trademarks may also be given for services, as service marks are a subset of the trademark category.

With registration of a trademark you have numerous legal benefits to include the right to use that trademark and its corresponding symbol, along with the right to sue someone for infringement if they try to steal your intellectual property. With the help of an experienced intellectual property or trademark attorney, you will need to apply through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Before registering for a copyright or trademark, or any other intellectual property, it is also a good idea to make sure no one else has registered anything similar. Keep in mind too that intellectual property is yours, owned by you, as soon as it comes to being—whether in your home or company. Registering it just gives you greater leverage if someone were to steal your intellectual property.

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!

intellectual property attorney

Filing a Patent: Why You Should Work with an Intellectual Property Attorney

If your business has reached the point where you are ready to file a patent, it is critical for protection of your assets that you consult with an experienced intellectual property attorney. This is even more true when filing for patents, as they can be much more intricate than filing for a copyright or trademark—but you may have those already or need to apply for them as well. This is not something that should be overlooked, even if it does not seem so important right now—any intellectually property you create in the beginning, or at any point for your company, could become extremely valuable to you one day and the last thing you want is someone stealing it!

Running a business is a multifaceted endeavor, to say the least. Most of your days are probably extremely busy with the daily activities of keeping the clients coming in, working with your team and making sure they have an organized workload, proper scheduling, and all that is associated with human resources. Most business owners and their managers are also responsible for many long days and weekends too, working with their teams while also paying the bills, ordering and keeping inventory straight, and working with business partners who may take on work in varying degrees.

You may also have independent contractors who are responsible for creating innovations behind a patent that your company may be registering. If this is the case, make sure that you have the correct contracts (confidentiality, non-disclosure, and more) in place so they are not disgruntled later and so you do not lose intellectual property that you paid for, or paid for to be developed.

Filing a patent may be somewhat different than you expect, and the process may be much slower than you expect, taking 21 months on average. Writing a patent is a challenging task, and much specific information must be given regarding your invention. There are several different types of patent you can apply for through the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The categories are separated into utility patent, provisional patent, or a design patent. The application progress process can be complex, and because this is certain such an important process, is generally not suggested that you go it alone.

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!

business partners

Business Partners: Resolving Disputes Within the Company

As a business owner today, there is more stress than ever for everyone from the owner to the cleaning crew. Competition can be fierce within nearly every industry—and especially depending on what specific products and services you provide. You may be continually concerned about keeping your team members happy and keeping them from going to the competition. If you have a great idea, others will follow suit and you may be street fighting in marketing and pricing to keep your place at the top in the neighborhood—whether running a restaurant, a computer repair shop, or a larger corporation.

If you have business partners, it is vital to have a strong partnership contract from the beginning. With the help of a skilled business partnership attorney, you can create a contract that outlines everyone’s titles, what they do in the company, outline when profits and pay are to be disbursed, and most importantly, offer a comprehensive explanation of the delegation of work. Money and job duties may be the stickiest points throughout the years in trying to get along with a partner.

One of the most important things you can do within your business partnership contract from the outset is to include a special clause for dispute resolution. Not only is it important to write this into your contract initially while you are still getting along, later if there is a dispute you will have already outlined how legal action is to be taken care of—whether through litigation, arbitration, or mediation, or other means. You and your partners may have even detailed where the dispute would be handled and who would pay attorney’s fees.

If you and your partner are both very invested in keeping the partnership going, mediation may be the best route, offering a more comfortable venue for discussing the issues at hand, over the courtroom—not to mention the amount of money that would be paid for litigation. With the help of a mediator or a skilled business attorney, hopefully you can save the partnership if it is agreed upon that is for the best of your company.

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!

insurance claim

Filing an Insurance Claim: Communications with the Insurer Should Be Easy

When it comes to the actual process of purchasing an insurance policy the steps are clear. First, and especially if you’re purchasing multiple lines of insurance, you need to find a good agent. Often our best suggestions come from friends and family. You may be having dinner with your parents or another relative and find out that they have worked with the same insurance agent for many years. In other cases, you may read about an agent online, and upon meeting them feel extremely comfortable and ready to purchase. The requirement should be that the insurance agent is educated about the types of insurance you need, that they are able to research and suggest all the facets required to protect your finances and property.

Once you have purchased your insurance, your job is to fulfill the details of the policy, agreeing that you will pay on time, mainly; however, there are of course other stipulations such as not making any changes to the existing property without letting them know, and following the proper steps if you do have an accident or damage to your home. Chances are, you have kept up your end of the bargain and paid the bill. And when you go to file a claim, everything should run just as smoothly for you as it did for them over the years while you were paying untold thousands in premiums.

Payments for premiums are not always easy to come by, and if you have suddenly had a problem or reason to file a claim, you probably feel quite serious about reaping the rewards now of owning that policy.

But what if the insurance company does not respond? What if they are difficult to deal with? What if they are disorganized, or what if they are completely nonresponsive? If you are worried about any of those things, you may be dealing with an insurance company acting in bad faith. This can be a very disturbing realization, and you will need the help of a skilled bad faith law insurance firm like the Bolender Law Firm.

Other red flags surrounding bad faith practices may include unreasonable delays or an outright denial that does not seem right. They may have somehow tried to convince you that the details of your policy are different from what you thought, meaning that you will be denied, or they may request excessive amounts of documentation, Hoping that you will bow out of the claim all together and just forget about it. If you are having difficulty with your insurance company, the first step is to ask what the problem is. It may be a clear-cut issue, or they may have had a snag in their investigation of your claim. But if you see any signs of bad faith, do not try to go it alone and continue communicating with the insurer or trying to set things right. This is the job for an experienced lawyer who will be able to protect your best interests.

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!

 

insurance adjusters

Insurance Adjusters Asking About Your Medical Condition: Why You Should Not Answer

If an insurance adjuster has just called, you may be somewhat startled by the speed in which they not only procured your phone number, but also how quickly they opened communications and began pelting you with questions. This is not always the most thoughtful way to treat someone who may have just been in a major or even catastrophic car accident, but insurance, as we all know, is about business. Insurance adjusters are heavily invested in protecting their company, and often their own finances too as they may be offered extra bonuses and lucrative compensation for saving their company time and money. This means that they have probably become very skilled at convincing policyholders to take the least amount of money as possible in a settlement, and quickly.

So, don’t be surprised if you get a call even while you may still be in the hospital. It may seem like an intrusion, and the truth is that you do not have to speak to them, then, or ever. This is a job for your car accident attorney, and if you do not have one yet, consult with an experienced injury firm as soon as possible. This could be vital to your case, and your settlement.

Insurance adjusters are very crafty at getting as much information from you as possible and then using whatever they can against you too. And as we often mention, the insurance companies are not your friend, and they did not become billionaires through attempting to win a popularity contest. So, if the insurance adjuster is on the other line and you are flustered or not sure what to do, you may give them some basic facts like your name, policy number, and the date and most elementary facts about your accident.

Insurance adjusters will ask for police records and medical records, and they may ask to tape record any or all conversations. Do not give out any information about your medical condition. Although you may be quite certain you know what is wrong; for example, maybe you have a broken leg. You may be tempted to pass on this seemingly basic fact when you speak to the insurance adjuster but as is common in car accidents, there may be some time before other medical issues emerge.

You could have much more complex health issues or internal damage than you realize, which is why you should not tell the adjuster anything about your health or the current injuries.  In many cases they will try to insinuate that an older injury is what is causing you pain or discomfort, when you are obviously suffering due to a car accident.

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!

mediation

What Happens When an Agreement Cannot Be Reached in Mediation?

Mediation is often an extremely attractive alternative to the courtroom. Formally termed alternative dispute resolution (ADR), mediation is typically held in a more casual and relaxed setting, led by a mediator. While the mediator may not technically be licensed or may not even have a legal degree, they are usually very experienced in helping two or more parties deal with some sort of legal dispute that has brought them to such serious odds that they cannot reach an agreement or settlement decision on their own.

In some cases, a judge may even send two parties into mediation during a case, requiring them to work it out. While that puts some added pressure on everyone in a mediation, it also takes them out of the stiff courtroom and out of what may be a more adversarial atmosphere. The mediation offers a setting where the mediator can help if the disputing parties have reached an impasse, encouraging them to think outside the box, and perhaps even learn to empathize with the other party’s situation. The mediator usually has prior, extensive knowledge of the case due to meeting with the parties involved before mediation begins, getting to know them both separately, and understand what brought them into the legal arena to settle their differences.

If a stalemate is so serious that the parties involved cannot or will not budge, the mediator may suggest they take an extended break. This could be a few days, a few weeks, or an indefinite period. If the parties are involved in a court case and they still cannot reach an agreement in mediation, this may not be pleasing to the judge, and their case could be delayed, there may be more mediation suggested (or required), or a trial may be scheduled. Such an ordeal is never easy on anyone, but negotiations simply may not be possible if neither side can give at all.

As in any negotiation, it may be up to the mediator or an attorney to keep the conversation going until someone thinks of something that they can give. Perhaps they have a concession they can make that would not paying them too terribly but could mean a lot to the other side. Most mediations are successful, and the exceptions can be frustrating for everyone involved.

Do you have questions about a mediation or 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!

Can there Be More Than One Owner for a Patent?

For an entrepreneur, there is nothing more exciting than getting into the momentum of innovation, creating a business plan and a business model—not to mention an incredible business product that you know will make an impact within your industry. And even though your business may be new, capital may always be a pressing concern, and you may have a lot on your plate in every way, protecting intellectual property is just as important as protecting everything else in your business; in fact, without the proper protection now, you could find yourself extremely regretful later if someone has stolen a patent, or even a copyright or trademark.

Patents can be complex to apply for, and on average take around 21 months to come through from the date of applying. Dealing with the patent application process is a job for an intellectual property attorney, or more specifically a patent attorney. Unless you have extensive legal knowledge, writing a patent and completing the process most likely would prove to be very challenging, and considering how long it takes a patent to be approved, it is critical to have your application filled out correctly.

There may be added complications in applying for the patent also, if there is some question as to ownership. Did you hire an independent contractor who came in and worked on a dynamic, exciting new project, creating the intellectual property that was left to your business permanently? If so, you should have an airtight contract with them, detailing the work they did, the duration of their employment, and making it very clear that any work created for the company belongs to the company. If you do feel comfortable with having them as part owner of the patent, then that should be in a written contract, or agreed upon if the patent is created later and is not included in any of the details of their initial contract.

There can be more than one owner for a patent, however, and if that is the case, both should be listed on the application as joint owners. There could be some gray area, however, if for example you created the entire invention and lead the process from beginning to end, while the other person only did work as instructed. In that case, they were really acting in the stead of an employee rather than an inventor. Because innovation today can be so valuable tomorrow, it could be vital to the success of your company to have everything in writing.

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!

mediation struggles

Mediation Struggles: Could We End up in Court Anyway?

Mediation offers a way for disputing parties a way to avoid what is often thought of as the horrors of the courtroom; and while litigation is sometimes the best route to settle a legal issue, there can be easier and more comfortable ways to do so today—as with alternative dispute resolution. Mediators are often practicing or retired attorneys, but they do not have to have a law degree or even be licensed. What they do need is experience in working with parties that may be having trouble coming to an agreement, even if they are motivated to find a resolution.

Mediations are usually successful, and it is easy to see why when you explore the model. The mediator is usually much more flexible and can meet with everyone involved separately, to get an in-depth understanding of what the dispute is about, the background of the parties involved, and an idea of what their end goal is for a settlement. The mediator can often work around the schedules of the parties, even setting meetings for after hours or on weekends. The atmosphere is usually much less hectic than the courtroom, relaxed, and casual.

The mediator is there to assist the disputing parties in coming to a settlement, not to decide the case for them. Their position is much less authoritative than that of a judge, which is often helpful as those involved can decide the direction of their case—and usually much more quickly, affordably, and in many cases, amicably. For business owners, mediation also allows the chance to preserve a relationship that may have already been long-term and profitable. Sometimes though, mediation is not successful, and a stalemate simply cannot be broken. If the judge has mandated the process, then they may be sent back to try again multiple times—and if that does not, the case could be held up for a very long time.

If mediation was voluntary and a decision cannot be reached through that route, a more aggressive approach with litigation may be the only option. In the end, however, the parties involved may wish they had been able to take a simpler approach and lay their grievances to rest more amenably.

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!