Category: Insurance lawyers

independent counsel

Independent Counsel for Insurance Lawsuits: When You Need It

If you are involved in a lawsuit—and especially one that is more challenging and adversarial in nature—you may feel like the world is against you. No one wants to have to endure the stress of litigation, which can be long and drawn-out, expensive, and has the potential to offer little satisfaction in the end. Being forced to fight without someone on your side may seem like a completely losing proposition, and although your insurance company may be providing an attorney for legal defense, you may feel like the odd man out. Unfortunately, you probably are not imagining things either as the insurance company must follow through on their promises as outlined, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t keeping a shrewd eye on their money.

Whether you are in court due to a serious automobile lawsuit where you were suspected to be negligent and there were serious injuries or property damage, or perhaps a commercial liability incident where someone hurt themselves on your property, in most cases your established liability insurance kicks in and leaves the insurance company obligated for your defense under ‘duty to defend.’ You can be sure that in most cases too, the insurance company will hope to take the more affordable route after performing an investigation and settle with the other side instead of heading for the considerable time and expense expected in the courtroom. If that is not the case though and you are involved in litigation, and you feel like you are not getting a fair shake as there is a conflict of interest with the attorney the insurer has provided, you may have the right to also have accompanying independent counsel—to be paid for by the insurer.

This may be vital to your future when large sums of money are involved for damages, or perhaps a settlement in the end. With independent counsel, you can be assured that the attorneys provided by your insurer are monitored by another legal expert and you have more control over your case. In most cases, this is your right unless you have waived the privilege previously.

Attorneys from the Bolender Law Firm have acted as independent counsel in many cases, representing policyholders exclusively. We 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!

 

Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act

Understanding the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act

Insurance is built on a promise, and laws like the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act are put in place to make sure they are followed through on. Like most consumers in the US, you probably have one or more policies, and each is a legal contract that promises to pay for coverage in the case of illness or death, an automobile accident, property damage to your home or business, potential harm to your professional life, and more. To say that the business of insurance is a big industry is a gross understatement, and all too often, greed takes over—meaning that companies sometimes practice in bad faith to keep from handing over large sums of money to policyholders who have kept up their end of the bargain.

If you have been injured or if you are suffering from other damages or catastrophe, your finances may be hanging in the balance—and having to wait on an insurance company worth billions of dollars to pay your claim can be an extremely stressful and frustrating experience. Luckily, laws have been enacted in many states, including California, to protect consumers at the mercy of insurance companies who are not fulfilling their obligations as stated in insurance policies. The Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act allows a range of different protective measures for the consumer, although the laws may be termed differently from state to state.

In California, Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations force insurers to stay in line or face penalties. Most of the regulations are geared toward typical bad faith practices, especially with delays. The insurer must have given you an answer within 40 days, whether they are accepting or denying a claim. Comprehensive investigations are required, along with written explanations regarding the claim or any denial of the claim. “Lowball offers’ are prohibited, and claims that are to be paid must be completed within 30 days. These are just some examples of the regulations, but if you suspect bad faith, don’t go it alone. Consult with a skilled attorney from an office like the Bolender Law Firm for assistance in getting your claims paid as soon as possible.

Other examples of bad faith may include verbal abuse or intimidation tactics used in the hopes that you will back down. This could include requiring volumes of documentation from you too, much of which may not even be relevant to the case and could be both difficult and time consuming to track down—again, causing more delays and allowing the insurer to keep earning interest on money which should be going to you over your claim.

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

Why Insurance Policies Seem So Intangible—at First

You may have simple insurance needs, spanning one or two cars that must be covered, and perhaps health and life insurance policies covered for work. Or you may have a long list of insurance policies protecting not only you and your family, but also your home, business, and professional life. You may also be in the habit of purchasing other types of insurance too, such as travel insurance, credit card protection, and more. If you have a lot of money to throw around, buying numerous insurance policies may have little impact on your finances, and serves to protect them—along with giving you peace of mind. For most of us though, paying premiums can be challenging, and there is not that usual element of having a tangible retail item to enjoy.

The true value of insurance may never become apparent if a claim is never filed; in fact, you may look at years of premiums that were paid in, with thousands of dollars put toward what seems like nothing! In such a case, insurance may have seemed like a waste of money, but the alternative is to leave yourself unprotected and open to the possibility of financial ruin.

Your car is a good example of both the tangibility and intangibility of insurance. While you may be a car buff or not—super proud of your ride or just glad to have a commute—when you buy a car you are enjoying an object that you can sit in, admire, use, perform required maintenance on or make improvements on as desired. It does require protection in case of an accident (as do you) though, and if property damage or injuries occur, that is when insurance suddenly becomes very real—with numerous ‘wheels’ going into motion immediately when a claim is filed.

And although your insurance policy may have just been a stack of papers initially, once you receive payment (or a settlement) for a claim and are able to rectify damages, it translates into a return on all the premiums that you paid—and sometimes quite a substantial one. In other cases, there could be challenges in receiving payment for a claim. You may have been working with an injury or car accident attorney already, but if you suspect bad faith practices due to delays or outright denials of claims, it is time to consult with a firm like the Bolender Law Firm, skilled in dealing with bad faith insurance law.

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

Understanding Basic Terms in Any Insurance Policy

How much do you really know about your insurance policy, from auto to home to life insurance or general liability? When you think about it, the answer may be that you know surprisingly little—and as complicated and as full of technical jargon as your policy may be, your insurance agent’s knowledge may not be as comprehensive as you hoped either.

In many states, different types of insurance are required, from automobile insurance to workman’s compensation. Many others are typically purchased, however, because having such protection in place is smart. But before you begin shopping for any type of coverage, be aware of exactly what any potential policy entails, as well as understanding the basic terms that may be couched in an overwhelming amount of legalese. Educating yourself before making any purchases means you will be better equipped to review your policy with the insurance agent too:

  • Declarations – this is the basic first page, but very important to doublecheck when you receive your policy as it should include everyone who is covered as well as general information about the policy and timeframes encompassed.
  • Coverage – property and damages that will be covered in the event of a claim are explained in detail; liability coverage may be explained here too.
  • Premiums & deductibles – this is one of the most important parts of your policy as it explains how much you are due to pay, when, and the extent of your deductibles.
  • Exclusions & limits – here, you can understand what types of coverage will not be covered in your policy, along with other types of coverage that will be paid in the event of a claim but only to a certain dollar amount.
  • Conditions – what must be met for the claim to be paid; for instance, a damaged home should be secured after catastrophe to protect it as much as possible from further decline, law enforcement should be called if necessary in the case of an accident, and the policyholder must comply with investigations carried about by the adjuster.
  • Endorsements – additional insurance coverage that can be purchased at extra expense outside the basics of the policy.

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!

car accident

Injured After a Car Accident? Don’t Fight the Insurer on Your Own

A car accident can be a terrifying experience, and the effects can be long-lasting. While some motorists are killed, others may suffer from neck and spinal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, serious burns, broken bones, and more. If you have been in a crash, and seriously injured, you may have lost hours at work while recuperating or you may have been forced to stop working completely—whether temporarily or permanently. This can be an extremely difficult time, and while the physical effects may drag on—so can the financial issues and the frustrations of filing an insurance claim.

If you were in an automobile crash due to the negligence of another party, the claims process is more complex than just filing for an inconsequential fender bender that may have left a dent or chipped some paint. When injuries are caused due to an accident, and a police report is filed, you can bet that the adjusters for the other side will be on the case faster than you can say “I’m home from the emergency room!” You may find yourself surprised at how quickly they call, and at how many questions they have! This is not the time to be speaking to an insurance adjuster, but it is time to be consulting with an experienced injury attorney.

Due to an impending lawsuit or settlement, it is in your best interest to let your attorney do all the talking when it comes to the insurance company. Without their help, you may find yourself being asked to do tape-recorded interviews, sign medical release forms and give access to medical records and other information, all the while feeling like you are in good hands because the adjusters come across as warm, empathetic, and trustworthy. What may truly be happening behind the scenes is that adjusters are gathering information to use against you later, so they can either deny you a settlement or get away with a lowball offer. Be wary also of bad faith practices such as no investigation of the case at all, failure to interview any witnesses who were on the scene, overlooking obvious evidence, delaying settlements, and denying claims with no cause.

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!

fraud

Does Your Insurer Seem to Suspect You of Fraud?

It’s amazing how quickly the tides turn, and how fast a business relationship can change when one side is about to lose a substantial amount of money, or is worried about fraud. When you purchase insurance, everything is geared completely around you as the consumer—and gaining your business. With a smile and a handshake, you are on your way as the new owner of one or more policies, looking forward to having the peace of mind in knowing that the insurance company will protect you if something goes wrong (assuming it is not excluded from the policy). Unfortunately, that may be the best experience you ever have with your insurance company. On filing a claim, there is the potential for frustration and disappointment.

Although insurance agents are there to provide you with a necessary product and usually do so with charisma and promises, they are not your friends. And insurance companies don’t report billions of dollars in profits each year without being tough; so, if you are filing a large claim, there could be some pushback before it is finally paid. You may be forced to jump through a lot of hoops you were not expecting either. Perhaps you are trying to collect on a homeowner’s claim after a fire, for instance. While you were completely innocent of any wrongdoing, you may suddenly find yourself at the mercy of the insurance company and investigation units, being interviewed by adjusters who want to record the conversations and retrace steps where the fire began, and more. While the process may seem very intense, it may just be routine.

You should worry, however, if tactics begin to seem abusive. Are you being asked for excessive amounts of documentation—and personal information such as tax returns? Are you being subjected to accusations or are the adjusters or service reps taking on an intimidating attitude toward you in interviews or on the phone? While it is possible that they could suspect fraud, and at least are spending an inordinate amount of time ruling it out, the insurer could be acting in bad faith. Along with abuse regarding intimidation techniques and requests that overwhelm policyholders, bad faith insurers often delay claims, delay investigations, offer ridiculously low settlements, and deny claims outright.

If you suspect this is happening to you, it is not the time to go it alone. 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!

insurer

Is Your Insurer Resorting to Abusive Tactics to Get Out of Paying?

Insurance allows us to have things, keep them, and replace them if necessary—without being forced into financial ruin. And although the policies themselves sometimes tend to be complicated, the basic premise is simple: you find an insurer and then pay them premiums to protect against loss. This may be for any type of insurance, including auto insurance, health and life, homeowner’s, general liability, professional liability (errors and omissions), and more.

The process usually starts out easily enough. Depending on what lines of insurance you seek, an agent or company most be sought out to help you with your purchase. Once you receive your policy, you have the peace of mind in knowing that your home or business is covered, and if something catastrophic were to happen, you would be okay. In the event of a claim, it may be that you were in an automobile accident due to the negligence of others, or you may have had a homeowner’s claim after a fire, weather event, or even a slip-and-fall accident by a guest at your home.

Once the claim has been filed, an adjuster is assigned to the case and begins an initial investigation, usually hoping to interview you and anyone else involved. If they are working for the other side (for instance if you were in a car accident, and due to negligence the other party’s insurer will be paying out) and it appears a settlement may be in order, it is critical not only to have an injury attorney on your side, but also to refer all calls and questions to their office.

In handling the insurance company on your own, you may not only find that they don’t take you as seriously as if you were working with an attorney, but the process may be slow and frustrating. This can be exponentially worse if they are guilty of practicing bad faith. You may find yourself facing incredibly long delays but getting little explanation—and/or it may seem that no one has even begun investigating your claim. Any settlement offers may be extremely low and unreasonable, or the insurer may begin trying to inconvenience you or intimidate you to the point where you drop the case altogether. Less aggressive tactics include pushing you to collect and submit volumes of documentation for your own case. If you think that is what’s happening, it is possible to push back by asking them to clearly explain why such excessive documentation is necessary.

In other cases, you may be subjected to verbal abuse intended to make you back down. This could begin during the interview process and continue from there, to include making accusations which have no basis, threats insinuating there won’t be a settlement, and harassment of witnesses. It is in your best interest to have expert legal help from an experienced office like 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 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!