After the 1991 Oakland Hills fire and the 2003 Southern California wildfires, legislators discovered through public hearings an additional aspect of the danger wildfires pose to homeowners: underinsurance. Legislation was enacted to remedy this situation. Nonetheless, when large wildfires struck Southern California in 2007 and 2008, state officials realized again the underinsurance problem persisted.
Data from the 2007 wildfires showed that 74% of the homeowners were underinsured by an average of $240,000. To address these concerns, the Insurance Commissioner proposed new regulations and amendments to existing regulations, and in 2010 strong and strict guidelines were put into place.
My clients are fighting these insurers and I am disgusted with what we are uncovering: Attorneys playing slick; adjusters deceiving their insureds; agents and brokers who over-promised and under-delivered. Like the rest of us, when buying insurance to cover their homes, each owner was asked questions by the agents/brokers, like the year the home was purchased, square footage, price, foundation, etc.; each owner was told the insurer would issue a policy; and each was told that when the premium was paid, the coverage would begin. In each case, the insurer calculated the policy limits and the annual premium. The homeowners believed their insurers, paid their premiums, and found comfort knowing that their homes were protected.
When these homeowners bought their policies, they trusted and believed the insurance agents and brokers. Where are these “Good Hands” people now?
Now, after the 2014 fire, homeowners are being told by the very same insurers who calculated the limits that the coverage limits are grossly inadequate. When these homeowners bought their policies, they trusted and believed the insurance agents and brokers; they trusted and believed the “Good Hands People” of Allstate; the “Like a Good Neighbor” agents of State Farm; the brokers and agents for the insurer whose memorable jingle is, “Nationwide is on Your Side.” But where’s Peyton Manning now? Where is “We are Farmers, dum da dum-dum, da dum dum”? And where are these supposed “Good Hands” people?
When the 2014 homeowners complained to their insurers, the insurance companies responded with: Well, I guess you should not have believed us when you bought that policy.
In 2018-2020, these claims will go to trial in Siskiyou County. It’s time we come together to rebuild our town and to tell these insurers that 1991, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2014 are far too many warnings. The question I ask now: Why should the insurers get so many warnings when the insured, who misses one single premium payment, gets a nasty letter that coverage is being canceled?
Our legal system is the envy of the free world. Sure it has its flaws, but for the most part the ideals of the founding fathers remain true. However, California’s courts are severely congested and delays are quite common.
In this case, the Defendant refused to admit fault and refused to take responsibility for its actions. In turn, the Plaintiff refused to cave in, and instead stood firm on his principles. The courthouse is where this battle will end, and both parties will have to wait 5 years for a courtroom to become available.
Darryl (not his real name) was injured while delivering pallets and product to a warehouse. Most of the events leading up to the injury are captured on the warehouse surveillance video with one exception — namely, Darryl is on the back side of the pallets and therefore not visible in the video. The video showed Darryl walking around the pallet checking the delivered items against the delivery manifest. The video showed a warehouse employee backing up a truck without looking and hitting the pallet, and the video showed the pallet moving 3 to 4 feet from the impact. As a matter of deduction, anyone on the back side of the pallet, standing within 3 to 4 feet, would be struck by the pallet. Darryl was struck and injured.
Darryl notified the warehouse of the incident. The warehouse should take care of Darryl. But after a warehouse supervisor saw the video, he saw an opportunity to cover his own bottom and to point the finger at the victim. Realizing that Darryl is not shown in the video, the supervisor then stated that he was a direct eye witness standing a few feet from Darryl, and that Darryl was four or more feet away from the pallet such that the pallet very lightly touched Darryl. Darryl could not believe his ears as this supervisor, accusing Darryl of fraud, was in fact lying about the incident. There were no eye witnesses. And thus the battle began.
Darryl contacted our law firm to assist with this claim. Settlement was attempted, but the warehouse refused. A lawsuit was filed but the warehouse denied all responsibility. Depositions were taken and the supervisor testified that Darryl was barely tapped by the pallet and that it is an insult for Darryl to bring this claim. In short, the supervisor testified that Darryl is a lowly liar.
During trial the warehouse supervisor again testified about eye-witnessing Darryl being ever so lightly tapped. Again, insinuating that Darryl is fabricating this story. And although the supervisor had reviewed the video of the incident, what the supervisor should have reviewed was the entire video. My office and Darryl spent hours combing through the video, frame by frame, and although it was a grainy picture and of low resolution, we were able to conclude that the supervisor was NOT standing next to Darryl and in fact had no view of Darryl.
At trial, the supervisor was impeached with his own video and the court was less than happy with the supervisor’s “story.” The court found in favor of Darryl and justice was done, although it took five years.
People quip that “you can sue for anything in this country,” but what is often forgotten is the quip that “you can lie and deny about anything in this country.” In the end, when the matter is laid bare before the court the hope is that justice will be served and that the finger-pointing, fault-denying, blame-everyone-else supervisors will be held accountable.
Good job, Darryl, for sticking to your principles!
Landlord owns the building. Tenant runs a restaurant. The lease has more than 10 years left.
Property values in this part of town are starting to skyrocket. Landlord wants to get rid of the Tenant so that Landlord can sell the building to a high-rise condo developer. Tenant wants to stay, as the rising real estate prices are bringing a wealthier set of customers to the restaurant. These competing interests are about to collide, and the courthouse is about to be center stage.
An earthquake destroys the restaurant, but fortunately it’s insured. Landlord receives the insurance check for the repairs, but then drags his feet in having a contractor do the repairs, hoping that the delay will ruin the restaurant and perhaps cause the Tenant to miss his monthly payments and therefore breach the lease.
The delay in construction does, in fact, cause the Tenant to fall behind in the monthly lease payments. Landlord sues Tenant for falling behind with the rent – the Landlord’s scheme is working and soon this restaurant Tenant will be gone and the building can be sold to the high-rise condo developer. But this Tenant is not to be toyed with. Tenant decides to retain an attorney.
After a protracted legal battle, Landlord pays well over a half million dollars to “resolve matters” with Tenant.
Since 1990 The O'Connor Law Firm has achieved results for clients in and out of the courtroom. We have offices in Northern California, Southern California, Nevada, and South Lake Tahoe. Call us at (916) 467-8000 or send us a message to find out how we can help you.
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