Insurance and Bad Faith BLAWG
Feb 5, 2019
Intentional Conduct Claims Litigation Considerations
What are The Three Essential Questions in an Intentional Act Insurance Claim? This article attempts to explain the situation so even a nonlawyer can understand. First, there is no automatic bar to coverage just because there was some intentional conduct. So there remain three essential questions. Also, this kind of application often includes defendants allegedly acted intentionally. So they are believed to have no insurance or prima facie coverage. (proving alleged facts are adequate to support the effort). The fact is that while insurance companies deter policyholders' claims of this nature, using intent may be denied, but that may not be the case at all. Before rejecting an intentional conduct claim, the insurance company should take the allegations seriously since the language of the policy and jurisprudence could prove liability. The three intentional conduct claim considerations include: Act or Injury: What was the deliberate conduct of the action or the injury? This is important because general liability policies often include language about “expected or intended” exclusions. There are also some states that have laws excluding coverage for acts of willful conduct. The issue is whether the insured intended to harm, or if the action alone is sufficient. One claim we often plead in California is "recklessness," which may or may not be intentional. The most common example is when a driver hits a pedestrian due to speeding. Then it is a question of whether the driver exceeds the speed limit without intending to cause harm. When the pedestrian brings a legal claim for injuries due to intentional conduct by the driver, it is not uncommon for the insurance company to deny coverage. Can You Challenge Denial of Insurance Coverage? Depending on the state laws, the driver may be able to challenge the insurance coverage denial. Of course, it would be malpractice on the attorney's part only to plead intentional conduct or only one cause of action for that matter. So a mixed bag pleading is almost always par for the course. In the state of California, a recent court case involving State Farm v. Frake (See also Google Scholar Here). In that case, the defendant struck his friend in a manner not intended to cause harm. So the court weighed the facts and ruled against coverage. The insurance companies used this ruling to carry on with their fallacy. Their argument is no coverage exists in cases of intentional conduct ever. But when the facts show there was no intent to harm, such as speeding, there was no intent to cause injuries. So coverage would apply in that case. But there is no exact rule. In any event, when the injury or damage was unintended, coverage may apply. The law continues to change, and it is essential for policyholders to examine any allegations, since insurers may not openly offer insurance claim support. Allegations of Intentional Actions: In some cases, the claim of intentional actions may not only be against the person or their insurance company, but against a company who employs the individual. After all, corporations are historical "persons," even before the politically charged case of Citizens United reaffirmed this fact. For example, what if your insurance agent is accused of fraud? In this situation, legal action may get brought against the agent and the company for damages. The claim against the business is liable for the employment of the agent and the alleged fraud. Was Your Claim's Denial Intentional? In many cases, the courts have ruled that the insurance company for the business must pay the claim. In some situations, if the senior management or board of directors were not aware of the agent's misconduct. So there was no intent to harm by the company itself. Insurance Coverage: When intentional conduct is alleged in the complaint, the kind of insurance policy must be considered. In the event of a speeding driver striking a pedestrian, the coverage would be the bodily injury in a general liability policy. In any case, insurance coverage involving personal injury coverage would apply. But some systems may include coverage for libel, slander, malicious prosecution, and other types of intentional torts. Does Insurance Cover Defamation? But when suing for slander or another intentional tort, the plaintiff must prove willful conduct. The facts will not determine automatic coverage in this situation in most states. But the carrier should pay the settlement and avoid trial. And this remains true even if there is willful acts exclusion. The same goes for fraud or criminal acts. Coverage can remain because some conduct could be viewed as negligent. So it's covered. Or it could be because of an exception to public policy considerations, for example. So policyholders must assess the allegations. Next, they must look to the language of the underlying policy. Then they consider the law to determine if insurance will pay for litigation in the case. If you have a question about coverages, hire a lawyer to help you proceed.
Jan 19, 2019
To Claim or Not to Claim, that is the Insurance Policy Question
Happy young couple discussing with a financial agent their new investment One of the questions people often have after a local car accident is when to make a claim. To make a claim or not, that is the question. So this is an excellent question that deserves a detailed answer. For starters, car crash insurance claims against your insurer in particular. They should only become made when you think you can prove the case and have the correct insurance coverage. Sometimes you will know if you're covered; other times, you won't. An attorney can usually quickly decipher your UM/UIM, comp, collision, and other coverages. Of course, sometimes, you won't know if the guy who hit you had insurance. So you must get your hands on the traffic collision investigation report. And this gets issued by the CHP or local law enforcement that came to the scene. Other times, it takes tracking down the owner of the vehicle that hit and ran to see if he or she had a policy in effect when you got slammed and left for dead. These terms and conditions found in your declarations of coverages and exclusions. They will determine what does and does not kick many coverages into existence. There has to have been an actual accident. Because making a false claim with your own or a third party's insurance carrier is punishable as a criminal offense by law. If you're found guilty of the offense (See, e.g., Penal Code Section 548-551 et seq.) Danger - Be Careful What You Say to any Insurance Company. Most people don’t ever need to become concerned with this situation. They usually know they should only make honest statements to the insurer. After a collision, the crash should get reported to the police. Then as soon as possible, contact the insurer to report your crash. This will begin the insurance liability claims acceptance or denial process. The insurer’s adjuster will investigate the crash to determine the at-fault party. Then decide what the settlement should be worth. What is The High Deductible Consideration? The other thing that needs consideration when making a claim with your carrier for property damage, for example, is your deductible. Sometimes the damage to the vehicle costs less than your deductible. In this situation, the vehicle owner decides whether or not to report the crash to their insurer, or fix the damages themselves. This is why many people who crashed in wrecks try and get the at-fault person's insurer to pay and wait for the check. The other factor in deciding to use your own comprehensive or collision coverages, or having the additional party pay, is whether the person hit wants to go through the process. Also, you may never know what to do after getting all these estimates. The Infamous "Non-Claim Discount" Consideration Another reason why individuals often do not file a claim with the insurer for small damages is due to a Non-Claim Discount (NCD). This discount is when the insurer rewards the policyholder. This discount will apply when they go for an extended amount of time without reporting any accidents. That means in the event of a crash with damages less or about the same amount as the policy deductible, it could be better not to report the car crash. That way, you can keep lower policy premiums. Other Considerations to Make Before Making a Claim Against Your Insco If the person does report the more costly crash and the insurer will not negotiate a fair settlement. Then a claim may go to court. In this situation, the jury may determine the settlement amount the insurer is responsible for paying the claimant. Doing something like this should be mulled over well. Get a handle on what the damages are and whether the repair costs will be over the deductible amount. Then use this as a deciding factor when claiming against your insurer. Further Reading: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/tips-settling-car-accident-claim.html Tips for Settling a Car Accident Claim | Nolo.com https://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/index.html Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Motor Vehicle Crash Injuries https://www.edmunds.com/auto-insurance/how-car-insurance-companies-handle-car-accident-claims.html How Car Insurance Companies Handle Car Accident Claims on Edmunds.com
Jan 11, 2019
Taking Your Car Accident Insurance Claims to Small Claims Court
Marble Courthouse building facade in black and white. Many ask: “why is a Los Angeles car accident lawyer saying go to small claims court?” First of all, I don't recall saying that. But are you tired of Farmers, GEICO, State Farm, and Mercury, etc.? Then read on. Many consumers are sick of adjusters. Many lawyers won't even sign a rear-ender with whiplash anymore. So these agents treat soft tissue case like they are worthless. Or they may say it is “worth less” than you or your attorney thinks. In that case, you should consider this option. Using small claims court allows you settle insurance disputes legally. And typically it gives you a lot of leverage. At this point, you can get the greedy insurance company to pay extra. And they risk a case tried to a judge. And like anything else in life, if prepared, you have a chance at winning. In this article, I cover basic preparation. Also, I'll include the advantages and problems of this process. Handling car accidents as small claims actions may be the way to go. In particular, this article deals with low impact, soft tissue claims. The idea is to skip a lawyer. Also, you can miss regular court. Most of all, you don't pay an attorney's fee. So instead of taking the offer, you can fight the insurer. Advantage 1: Small Claims Court Sets Grounds For a Bad Faith Lawsuit One advantage of filing a soft tissue small claims case is leverage. The defendant gets no attorney, and neither do you, the plaintiff. Because of the suit, the defendant must litigate their own case. And this is because the insurer refused a reasonable settlement. Insurance companies have a duty to settle claims reasonably. But they try and settle for MUCH lower than they are worth. They know personal injury attorneys will have to file a lawsuit (about $500). And we have to do written discovery (10-25 hours). After that, we take depositions ($1000 plus driving, travel, etc.). To top it off, we will be under pressure to settle. And many times the offer is too small. So it cannot even cover medical expenses. Worse, you still have to reimburse the attorney their costs. And you must pay them their fee of a third to forty percent. Their attitude [the insco] is “whatever.” So if they refuse a reasonable settlement, they are open to a suit. This happens if a judgment exceeds the coverage. That is when the defendant can sue their insurer. Bad faith law deals with cases like that. In a small claims case, a judgment gets entered against the defendant’s credit. So the defendant can sue if proof exists the carrier should have settled. So a verdict against the defendant can cause trouble. For example, the defendant may complain to the Insurance Commissioner. And the defendant can raise cane with a bad faith lawsuit for damaged credit. Plus they might write negative reviews on Google Places, etc. It can be bad for the insurance company. Advantage 2: Avoiding Limited, or Unlimited Civil Court Saves Costs & Credit Risks In a small claims action, you, the plaintiff, get to have a judge decide your award. You have no jury. And there are no discovery costs (see supra). Also, you can do service via mail instead of a process server. And no attorneys means no attorney’s fees. The damaged credit score is a potential issue. And that definitely can force these die-hard insurance adjustors to pay. They would rather screw the guy who just stands in line and does nothing. They typically are clock punchers. So make em work. Some Procedures That Can be Helpful in Achieving the Outcome You Would Like What is Small Claims Court? Who is Permitted to File a Small Claims Lawsuit? Time Limits to File a Small Claims Lawsuit? Location to file this Type of Lawsuit? How do I File a Claim? What are the Proper Procedures? How does the Defendant get Notified? What will occur at the Trial? What is Small Claims Court? The small claim resolves civil disputes with small amounts of money. The amount for injury claims depends on liability insurance. If insurance exists with a defense duty, it is $7500 or less. And this excludes court costs, interest, and attorneys fees. If no insurance with a duty to defend, the max amount is $10000 for car accidents. And this is how small civil disputes resolve. But again, this involves a small sum of money. And it gets heard in the county court, civil division. As an individual you can sue for damages for bodily injuries resulting from an auto accident if your claim is for $10,000 or less, a $7,500 limit applies if a defendant is covered by an automobile insurance policy that includes a duty to defend. (Source). 116.224. (a) Notwithstanding Section 116.221, the small claims court has jurisdiction in an action brought by a natural person for damages for bodily injuries resulting from an automobile accident if the amount of the demand does not exceed seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500). In the state of California, rules of procedure exist for these cases. These are the Small Claims Rules. These rules assist in making the small claims process easier. And it speeds up getting your information. And for attorney and layman alike, it's easier than regular civil court. The rules are in the California Rules of Court. Companion rules are in the California Statutes Annotated. And these are at any law library and many public libraries. Read the Rules! Before filing a small claims lawsuit, it is important to read these rules. And this is for your information about the process. The aim of the small claims process is to resolve minor civil disputes. It gets done through the court system. But it bypasses the more complicated and formal judicial process. The trade off is the award for a lower amount. Who is Permitted to File a Small Claims Lawsuit? The person filing a small claims lawsuit must be over 18 years of age. And if under 18, they will require a parent or guardian to register for them. Small Claims Lawsuit Basics For claims of more than $5,000, the filing fee is $75. What if another owes you money, or has your property? And what if they refuse to return it? Then you may find a resolution in small claims. But before filing, you should try and talk with the accused. So maybe send them a letter. Then try and resolve the dispute. But if your queries go unanswered, go to small claims court. The following are questions you should ask, before filing: Did I try with reason to reach a resolution? Is this a valid legal claim against the other party? Do I have or can I get evidence to prove my court claim? Is the amount in question $7500 or smaller? Does the defendant have auto insurance? If so, is a duty to defend present? Is the amount in question $10000 or lower? Does the defendant have insurance with a duty to defend? Do you have the name and right address of the other party? If the answers are “yes,” the chances are you have a valid small claims lawsuit. So if you are unsure, an attorney could advise you. And a lawyer can tell you if you have a valid complaint. Also, they can explain the evidence you will need to prove your claim. And this is all necessary to win. If you feel you need an attorney, contact the local bar association. And the California Bar has a free referral service. Also, you may qualify for free legal service. In some cases, pro-bono lawyers help at the local Legal Aid Service. Location to File the Lawsuit. You will need to contact the Clerk of Court after preparations: In the county, the event or dispute occurred, which led to the lawsuit. Location the disputed property is located. If it involves a secured promissory note, the lawsuit should become filed in the county payments are received. Don't what county to file the action? Contact the Clerk’s Office. They can offer assistance. So How do I File a Claim? Lawsuits all begin by submitting a complaint form. This is a “Statement of Claim.” It will get tabled in the clerk’s office. If you need help filling out forms, the clerk can direct you. If filling out the “Statement of Claim,” provide information in a brief manner. You must detail the facts of the case. Most of all, you need to justify the amount you seek. Also, you must have the full name and address of the defendant listed. And if the claim has written documents, attach them. Items include notes, leases, repair bills, contracts or other things. Duplicates of originals should be attached to the form. And a fee goes to the court clerk. And this is known as a filing fee. Last, the amount of this fee gets based on the sum of the lawsuit. What are the Proper Procedures? The first step is to fill out the Statement of Claim form. Second, you need to notify the defendant. So you must serve him or her with a copy of the lawsuit. “Service of Process” is how we notify the adverse party. The notice will have the Statement of Claim attached. And also attached will be a “Notice to Appear,” which is a summons. And these papers get served in one of two ways. The first is having the clerk sent the lawsuit papers to the defendant. This is sent by registered mail, with a return receipt requested. This is restricted delivery to the party only. And it must be signed for, to obtain the letter. A fee gets paid to have the clerk send the lawsuit by mail. But if you win, it is possible to recover court costs from the defendant. If mail service is a bad choice or is unsuccessful, you can pay the Sheriff’s Office. So they can provide personal service. This means the sheriff will try and locate the defendant. Then they hand deliver the lawsuit papers to them. They will do so at their home or place of work. But what if the defendant's residence is not in the same county? Then you must use the Sheriff’s Office in that county. Using the sheriff to hand deliver things will involve a fee for the service. If these two methods are unsuccessful, other options may be available. But you must contact the Clerk’s Office. Notice to Appear If filing the small claims lawsuit, you should be notified of certain dates. You will need the date, time and place of the pretrial hearing. This is called a pretrial conference. And this is because a trial or final hearing comes later. The pretrial hearing is to determine issues in the dispute. If the defendant fails to appear, certain things will happen. First, the judge will order a prove-up hearing. Here, the judge must see proof the lawsuit got filed in the proper county. Next, he will check to see if the defendant got notified. Then the court will enter a default against the party. So the court issues a final entry of judgment against the defendant. And this means the defendant defaulted. But the judge must rule if the damages in the lawsuit are valid. Cases Can Get Settled at Pretrial Hearing. If the defendant appears at the pretrial hearing admits fault, case over. And that way, the case can settle right away. So in that case, no trial takes place. But if the defendant is broke, the plaintiff can agree to payments. Then the court may enter a stipulation. So this will make the terms and conditions to settle legally binding. If the defendant denies the claim at the hearing, the judge asks why. And if the accused fails to have a valid defense, the judge will tell them. Because of this, the court will advise them a judgment could go against them. If a valid defense exists, the judge may order mediation. If the judge orders mediation, it could happen at the courthouse. Often it takes place at the time of the pretrial hearing. Most of the time mediators our volunteers. If the case settles, the mediators set the terms of the settlement. And this is written down. So it gets signed by the defendant and the plaintiff. If a case won't settle through mediation, the clerk sets the case for trial. The next step is to inform the judge how many witnesses will testify. The judge can now determine the time needed to hear all of the witnesses. If the parties want to testify, they must include themselves too. What Will Occur at the Trial? If the date gets set for the final hearing/trial, you should get prepared. Preparing includes having all of the evidence you will present at trial. Also, it lists any documents. And it lists the witnesses you intend to call to testify. If you feel that a witness may fail to show up for the court, you can subpoena them. If a witness has no subpoena and fails to appear, the judge will continue without that witness. The judge will refuse to let you return with the missing things or witnesses. The judge will request that both the plaintiff and the defendant tell the facts. They must also show all of the evidence and proof. The witnesses will testify. Then the judge will weigh the testimony, facts of the case and evidence. So in the end, the court decides who won the case. Both Sides Tell Their Story. If the witnesses all speak, the plaintiff and defendant have told their sides of the case. But the judge may ask questions to clarify issues. However, this won't always happen. In fact, the judge may see no reason to ask any questions. The small claims trial is informal. And the judge will attempt to get all of the facts from both parties. So he can make a fair and accurate decision in the case. Conducting yourself right is important. Some other suggestions include: Be on time, for court. If the plaintiff is tardy, the court may dismiss the case. If the defendant appears late, the judge might enter a judgment against them. In presenting your case, it is crucial to stick to the issues of the dispute. Be courteous; don't interrupt the judge, the defendant or witnesses. At trial, don't engage in any name calling. And refuse to raise your voice. If you fail to understand, ask the judge for help. If the defendant offers to settle, or the judge suggests it, consider it carefully. Don't just turn the offer down. It may be in your best interest to accept the settlement. And this may be true if the judge recommends it. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge will generally announce their decision. In some cases, the judge may want additional time to review the evidence. The court may wish to research case law before final judgment. If this happens, it is called taking the case “under advisement.” The plaintiff and the defendant will receive a copy of the final decision in the mail. If the defendant is unsatisfied, they will be able to file a written motion for a new hearing. And this must be within ten days after the judgment. Then the court will rule on the motion. So it will try and determine grounds for a new hearing. Another step to take is to appeal the judgment to the superior court. In this situation, the procedure for appealing a decision can become complicated. And it is recommended to consult an attorney. Conclusion. Above is accurate information and guidelines on small claims limitations. But you need to ensure the best outcome in your small claims lawsuit. And some motor vehicle injury lawyers will do all your evidence books for you in exchange for their regular fee. And sometimes they agree to handle any appeal by the losing defendant. If you have questions, contact Michael P. Ehline, Esq. He works at Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. His direct line is (213) 596-9642. Citations: "Cases for $10,000 or Less." Cases for $10,000 or Less - money self-help. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Dec. 2016.
Jan 8, 2019
What are the Steps in Filing a Complaint for Unfair Insurance Practices?
Evil insurance agent being glad of palming off a contract to with the intention to uphold it to his clients In California, the insurance codes have laws established that apply to car insurance companies. Many laws can punish companies engaged in unfair practices or "bad faith." Also, by law, the Department of Insurance can't force insurance companies to pay claims. But you can file a DOI complaint. BUT this is assuming an attorney does not already represent you. The DOI will claim you are not without a remedy since you have an attorney. So this only applies to people who are trying to battle their case with no outside counsel. In any event, this is good stuff to know. And we recommend that every consumer-facing an insurance company peruse through this document to familiarize themselves with the rights, duties, and obligations of both insurers and claimants. What are Unfair Claims Practices? First, what the heck is an unfair practice? For example, unfair practices by insurance companies may involve misrepresentation of insurance policy provisions related to coverage and claimants. Insurance companies can be acting in bad faith when they attempt to put off, deny or delay settling a fair claim. So after meeting the objective requirements, the adjuster cannot escape paying. One example would be when the insurer fails to acknowledge or act within a reasonable amount of time. So upon the communications of the damaged party, when a claim has been filed against an insurance policy. they must act. Also, it applies if the insurer fails to settle when it is clear that there is compelling evidence they are liable or offers a paltry amount. If it shocks the conscience and is far from similar case payouts, it may trigger action. What is the Insurance Code for Unfair Practices? The California Insurance Codes that apply for unfair practices is Insurance Code 790.03 (h), which is the Unfair Practices Act. This act details various actions by an insurance company. These are actions considered unfair practices against policyholders and claimants. The Department of Insurance is responsible for enforcing the standards insurance companies must practice being within the law. What are Other Unfair Insurance Practices? The failure to settle claims promptly, when it has become apparent under the insurance policy coverage, there is liability under the ACT, it applies. Also, it comes into play when it influences settlements under portions of the policy coverage. If they fail to promptly to provide a reasonable explanation for the denial of a claim or offer a settlement, they are on the hook. If an insurer or adjuster directly tells a claimant not to involve the services of a lawyer, it may also apply. How Do I File a Complaint with the California Department of Insurance? Before filing a complaint with the California Department of Insurance, you should act in good faith to try and settle. So you must first attempt to resolve the problems that exist in the claims process. So if this is not successful, the claimant can file a request for assistance. Or victims may file a complaint form with the Department of Insurance. Along with this request, there should be documentation. Also, there could be a delay with no supporting documents. Documents should include the declaration page from your insurance policy. Of course, this assumes you are bringing a claim against your own insurance company. Also, you should provide any canceled checks, the denial letter, and any other documents that pertain to proving the claim. And never send original documents with the complaint or request. Also, original photos should not accompany either of these documents. After all, they are evidence. And it most likely will not be possible to get them back. Copies and not originals are what you send as evidence. Same with photographs. Also, keep original evidence for trial and let them review photos so they can comply with speedy insurance company practices by the Department of Insurance. Next, when a request or complaint gets filed with this agency, a copy of the demand typically goes to the insurance company, broker, or agent. But not if the person who files the complaint requests that they do not want a copy forwarded. Attorneys usually suggest that a copy of the request or complaint get submitted to the insurance company by the plaintiff. Here is a copy of the fill-able PDF complaint form. The California Department of Insurance: California Department of Insurance Consumer Communications Bureau 300 South Spring Street, South Tower Los Angeles, Ca. 90013 Contact them between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1-800-927-HELP (4357) or 213-897-8921.
Jan 8, 2019
Understanding What to Do When Your Insurance Company Acts Against Your Interests
The Griffin logo of Ehline injury attorneys. No one wants to be the victim of an insurance company, especially after facing a debilitating accident. Such action by the company you signed a policy with is an insult and challenging to handle. When recovering from an injury, your focus should be on getting better again. You should not have to worry about dealing with insurance company goons. Besides, you know what they've done is wrong. And now your bills may be in jeopardy. Plus, you are out of work and unable to bring in income while you're convalescing. It's time for you to fight back. There are avenues that you can take, including going to your state's department of insurance. However, such regulators are often overworked and outfoxed by the big corporations. Getting an attorney specialized in the field of insurance bad faith claims is the primary decision you have to make. Why Are Plaintiff's Lawyers Crucial To Your Bad Faith Claim? Trained and experienced lawyers, such as those at Ehline Law, are second to none in making sure that the insurance companies are forced to keep their word. Many insurers will use bad faith practices because they know that statistically, they are usually not challenged. When faced with a law firm with a list of victories, hundreds of clients long, including against insurance companies, they start to toe the line. Why Does a Contingency Fee Attorney make Sense for a Bad Faith Case? There are often many avenues a bad faith insurance attorney can take for their clients. Many, like Ehline Law, work only on contingency, hanging their pay on a victory for their customers. A genuinely skilled attorney builds a personal relationship with clients. That way they can make sure that they know everything about them, including their needs. So this allows for a more accurate picture of how the accident or injury affected the victim and their family and how best to rectify it. Also, an attorney skilled in challenging the big insurance companies brings experience and confidence to the table. In many cases, the insurance company doesn't want a drawn-out fight that would make them look bad. So usually, they will settle out of court. But this isn't a matter of just looking at the back of a phone book-- you need a fighter that will use every resource to make sure that the insurance company does not manipulate you. This problem is why the Ehline Law Firm is a top choice for insurance litigation in Southern California. If you want to learn more about bad faith law or have a question about some other legal issue, do not hesitate to contact us.
Jan 6, 2019
How Driverless Vehicles Will Change the Insurance Game
Health Insurance Costs Benefits Plan Medical Injury Concept During the past couple of years, there has been lots of talk about self-driving vehicles. And this year; the conversation became more substantial when on July 13, 2015, Google showed the prototype of its self-driving car in Silicon Valley City at the Community School of Music and Fine Arts in Mountain View. The location is about 40 miles southeast of San Francisco. And it gave attendants at the event a close up of the vehicle. The prototype does not contain either a steering wheel or pedals like a conventional car. In fact, the vehicle is designed to drive without a dedicated driver behind the wheel. Beginning in June, Google has been testing the prototypes on the road near its headquarters in Silicon Valley. And not only does the Internet giant have an interest in this type of technology, but some traditional auto manufacturers have begun introducing vehicles that are partially automated. Both Mercedes and Toyota have introduced vehicles that have braking and parking assistance. Also, they have plans to take the automation further in coming years. Google is not the only tech company to have an interest in autonomous vehicles. In fact, Alibaba and Baidu have also been interested. And they believe they can have a fully operational self-driving vehicle ready in five years. The Question Remains "What About Auto Insurance?" Autonomous vehicles have the self-driving technology. So this could mean a change on the roadways by making traffic efficient and less room for error. After all, there is no place for issues like driver distraction or driver error. Also, this could change the whole transportation issue, including possible car ownership due to alternatives. According to an article in the Yale Journal of Law & Technology, it discusses the 200 billion dollars a year automobile insurance industry. And it relates how this type of technology with autonomous vehicles could make having private auto insurance unnecessary in the future. Yale Law School Student Jack Boeglin who authored the article surmised that private insurance would not be needed. Because of this, liability transfers to the manufacturers. Using this theory, he goes on to say drivers who want to keep their driving privileges would be required to pay. Also, if an accident occurred using collected data from the vehicle’s computer, it could be used to determine the percentage of the driver’s fault, assigning liability. What are the Major Liability Issues? On the other hand, driver’s who relinquish their driving privileges to the vehicle's automation would not have liability issues and would not need insurance. Also, this could save driver’s thousands of dollars in insurance premiums. But the question would be is this enough motivation for the public to change to self-driving vehicles? Ehline Law Firm finds the advances in technology in this area exciting. But we wonder if self-driving cars when the time comes will stop accidents from happening. As with anything computerized, issues can occur. And what happens when there are both types of vehicles on the roads? To learn more about motor vehicle accidents and liability visit our pages.
Jan 5, 2019
How Much Does a DUI Cost on Car Insurance?
DWIs Among the Most Expensive "Luxuries?" Have an extra $1,700 for insurance? If you don't, you should consider the cost of drinking and driving. DUIs and DWIs are among the most expensive actions by drivers. Even if they do not kill anyone behind the wheel, there are still incredible consequences. Many DWI court cases cost at least $10,000. The State of California cracked down hard on drinking and driving. It finds the risk to life and property unacceptably high. So should everyone. Below is an infographic from the site Nerdwallet about the insurance cost of a DUI conviction. Costs change by location and circumstance, but there's a strong correlation. Each one adds a significant chunk. Also, in some cases, it more than doubles the costs. DUI driving stats Via: NerdWallet Increasing Penalties. According to the state's DMV, there are severe. Last year the Governor signed a law requiring all convicted DUIers to have an interlock device on their car, according to KTLA. Drivers arrested for DUI have their licenses suspended or revoked. They must pay a $125 reissue fee to the DMV and proof of financial responsibility. A first offense conviction is showing over .08% BAC results in a four-month license suspension. A second or further within ten years results in a one-year suspension. Someone under 21 faces a one-year suspension for a BAC of .01% or above. Drinkers and drivers must request a restricted license through a DMV office. The immediate suspension or revocation is an Administrative Per Se sanction by the state before conviction. There could be further penalties and fines, including jail time, after a sentence. The simplest-- and the cheapest way to prevent all of these issues is not to drink and drive. Furthermore, you make the roads safer and avoid years of legal and fiscal problems for you and your family. Driving is a privilege, not a right. It is your task to keep it.
Jan 2, 2019
Protection against Insurance Scam Fraud
catch consumer fraud, arrest and sue big corporation execs with police investigation or neighborhood watch online internet thief We wanted to discuss something that hurts all of us here at our injury attorney portal site. Every person ends up having to pay one way or another when they become victimized by car insurance fraud. So they will be responsible for paying higher insurance premiums. Expensive false claims mean higher premiums for all of us. In many situations, the victim and members of their family involved in an accident wind up paying with their very lives. To prevent insurance accident scam targeting, it is essential to becoming educated on fraud protection. Insurance fraud followed private insurance. Astoundingly, recorded incidents go back to ancient Greece. For example, ships purposefully sunk. And that scam was called "scuttling." Then insurance fraud made its way to England, and onto America. How Long Has Insurance Fraud Existed? So just as prostitution came along soon after sex, insurance fraud is no different. An entirely new arena opened up for insurance fraud claims as soon as the automobile was introduced. With the high tech technology that is commonly used today, there are organized and highly sophisticated crime rings that file numerous fraudulent claims for car accidents, and they are not very easy to detect. However, this does not have to leave you exposed as a target for an insurance scam. There are steps against fraud that can be taken to gain protection and awareness. And these steps help you avoid becoming a targeted victim of individuals and organized crime rings alike. First, you must understand the common insurance scams. There are quite a few different types. Accidents that are ‘set-up’ can range from a driver acting like they want to offer help. But instead, they only have the intentions of causing an accident that appears to be the fault of the innocent driver. They do this to vehicles by intentionally stopping directly in front of an innocent driver to cause a rear-end accident. Should I Trust My Doctor or My Lawyer? Even attorneys and physicians become involved in these scams. You can't trust anyone. The best way to make sure you do not become a victim of insurance scam fraud is to gain information. You need to understand fraud protection. So that way you can avoid car insurance accident scams. Below are some of the most common scams that you will want to stay aware of: Fake Helpers – Waving unsuspecting drivers into deadly traffic is their job. Next, their companion intentionally crashes right into your vehicle. But evildoers will deny the other driver got waved into the danger zone. Scams abound. For example, they help you locate a physician, auto repair shop, or attorney. In situations like this, everyone involved is aware and in on the scam. The physician and attorney will be deceptive too. That way, they get to collect more money from your insurance provider. Afterward, the body shop will end up charging ridiculous rates as well. Additional Damage – Staged wrecks are more and more common. For example, a scam driver will drive to a different location and deliberately cause a significant amount of damage to their automobile. But the first accident is where all the injury occurred. Rear-End Car Accidents that are Staged – When a car behind you hits your rear end, you have been rear-ended. But when its someone who forces you to slam on your brakes, you rear-end into the scam driver. So now, they can then collect large amounts of money for their vehicle damages. Next, they will gather even more money for staged medical injuries. Semper Paratus? The age-old Latin motto of the US Coast Guard says it best. "Always Prepared." It is vital to remain prepared. After all, scams like this can occur at any place and at any time. The key is awareness. Keep an eye out for scam drivers. After all, they may be inspecting the habits of your driving or following your vehicle. You should always make sure there is enough room in front of your car to stop in a hurry. Also, take notes if an accident occurs. Get information about the other car. Go so far as to notate every person in the other vehicle. Record damages to vehicles and structures on a disposable camera or your smartphone. Never use another person’s judgment; always use your own. Do not let another driver ‘wave you into traffic,’ it is much safer to let other vehicles pass until you know you have enough room to get in or out of traffic. Also, if an accident occurs and you sense something is not quite right, make sure you convey this to your insurance company. These are just some of the ways to protect yourself from insurance scams and fraud.
Jan 4, 2015
HealthMarkets Insurance Fraud Lawsuits
The health insurance provider, HealthMarkets, made the news a lot in the last several years. But sadly, it's not for the reason that the company wanted. The insurer has landed into hot water several times. And this is because it claimed to offer comprehensive health insurance for its consumers. But instead, it failed to provide what it had promised. In 2010 the company was even sued by the Los Angeles City Attorney. The basis of the charging document was false advertising. In other words, Los Angeles believed this insurance corporation was lying to the public. The LA Times even quoted the Chief Assistant City Attorney as saying: “All their marketing and training and advertising was aimed at convincing people that this was comprehensive coverage that will protect you in your time of need. It certainly did not prove to be that way.” Attorney Michael Ehline at his desk. Personal injury attorney. This lawsuit is among many that the company has faced. This lawsuit alleges 13 consumers felt cheated by the company. And in one case, the cost of health coverage far outstripped what the company offered. Hence, it left its consumers feeling misled. The Christensen family was without a breadwinner and $450,000 in back medical bills. The company, formerly known at UICI, has even become labeled ‘junk insurance.’ It has repeatedly faced accusations of not providing proper care when needed. Also, this was much to the detriment of its customers. Also, the corporation has gotten embroiled in lawsuits multiple times. And it's gotten sanctioned by multiple government agencies. So if you or a loved one had coverage with HealthMarkets or UICI, you could have a case. Were you denied coverage at a critical time? Then you may be able to get justice. Of special interest, you may win even without filing a lawsuit. Winning a Healthmarkets Claim Most of all, our skilled liability attorneys have battled big companies for the little guy. And we have repeatedly won time after time. So let us go to work for you and your family. Why not hold the insurance company accountable in bad faith? Also, you may also have other claims or causes of action? So call us today for a free, no-pressure consultation. Then we can discuss your legal rights. Call now at (213) 596-9642
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