Can I Sue if My Insurance Company Acts in Bad Faith?

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Do you suspect your insurance company is acting in bad faith? Remember that your policy is paid-for and as such, your insurance company upholds a promise to provide you insurance protection. The company further is responsible for negotiating and settling claims in good faith. If you believe that an insurance company isn’t negotiating in good faith, can you sue them for acting in bad faith?

A claim of bad faith against an insurance company arises only if the company’s adjuster has lied, committed fraud, or has gotten in the way of you pursuing the claim. An example of this could be tampering with a witness or withholding evidence. It would therefore be unwise to file a bad faith lawsuit just because you don’t agree with the adjuster, even your own. In addition, you can sue the adjuster of your own company for not giving you a specific reason for a low settlement offer.

Still suspect the adjuster for your company is negotiating in bad faith? Use the term in conversation with them. Bad faith is usually taken seriously by insurance companies and the term should get their attention. You can also put your accusation of bad faith in writing. Make sure in the letter that you refer to the conduct of the adjuster that you consider to be done in bad faith. If it is proven that the insurance adjuster acted in bad faith, the company could be responsible for paying damages above the original compensation amount for your injuries.

It is extremely difficult to win bad faith damages in court, however. This does not mean you should not pursue a case if you believe you have one. Contact the attorneys at Lowthorp Richards. We can look over your evidence and discuss your legal options regarding your lawsuit. Call us to schedule a free consultation.

Common Personal Injury Claims

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If you’ve been injured in an accident, you could be compensated for injuries sustained in the accident. There are all types of accidents and injuries that could be a part of a personal injury claim and can cause people confusion. Here are a few common personal injury claims that could be filed, how liability will have to be proven, and how damages will be covered, such as medical costs.

Vehicular Accidents

The most common personal injury claims that are filed are car accident claims. Car accident claims can range from a pedestrian being hit on a sidewalk to a multicar accident on the freeway. Injuries can include concussions, burns, and catastrophic injuries like limb amputation. When filing a car accident claim, you’ll usually be expected to prove that the driver acted in a negligent manner. Compensation for injuries sustained in the accident are paid out as monetary value rather than jail time. Personal injury cases are considered civil cases rather than criminal, so jail time will not be given out in a personal injury claim.

Medical Malpractice

You can file a lawsuit against a medical practitioner for medical malpractice. These lawsuits usually involve misdiagnoses, botched medical procedures, and medication complications due to prescription drug use. Injuries caused by medical malpractice can be complicated, hard to diagnose, and sometimes symptoms don’t show up until months later. It can also be hard to pinpoint who exactly is responsible for the injuries, since multiple medical staff could have been involved in your treatment at the time. Damages are paid like any other personal injury case, but the amount paid could be quite large for severe injuries.

Slip and Fall

Slip and falls can happen in a variety of locations and a variety of injuries, such as sprained ankles or broken bones, can be a result of those falls. More severe accidents, such as an employee falling into the moving parts of machinery, could lead to horrific limb destruction, limb amputation, or even death. Slip and falls are common in places of employment such as construction sites or work that utilizes heavy machinery. Employers are required to minimize the risk of injury to their employees by installing guardrails or placing warning sides to indicate dangerous moving parts. Monetary value awarded in these cases can include worker’s compensation if the injury occurred at a place of employment. Usually the amount rewarded is used to cover medical costs.

If you’re going to be filing any of these common personal injury claims, it’s best to hire an experienced attorney who can help guide you through the claims process. The lawyers at the law offices of Lowthorp Richards can share their legal knowledge with you, offer advice on advancing your case, and work to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call us to schedule a consultation today.

Who Gets the Dog in a Divorce in California?

During divorce proceedings, the division of property is a common procedure most couples must go through. However, some divorcing couples can’t seem to see eye-to-eye on who gets the dog after the divorce. Dogs are often considered important members of the family and who the dog goes to may be very important to divorcing spouses. However, in the state of California, pets including dogs and cats, are treated as property, not much different from a chair or desk. Therefore, in a divorce, the dog may be included in the division of property rather than custody proceedings.

California law dictates that a dog, seen as a piece of property under the law, will be subjected to the factors that determine how property will be divided between the divorcing couple. This means that the court will not, nor do they have the ability to, grant custody rights to either party of the dog. The court will only determine ownership of the animal and will not take the animal’s best interest into consideration. It is recommended for couples who have agreed to keep the dog’s best interest in mind to consider reaching a compromise amongst themselves regarding how visitation will be carried out for the dog. Custody and visitation, not legal ownership, can be handled by the couple and not the court. Mediation is an appropriate way to handle this issue. It is also possible to hire a third party, such as an attorney with mediation experience, to help divorcing couples reach a compromise.

It is also possible to sue for ownership of the dog the same way one would sue for ownership of a TV or game console. When it comes to these retail items, presenting a proof of purchase such as a receipt could help prove ownership. As for pets, it can get a little tough to prove ownership without a proof of purchase. However, adoption papers and receipts for veterinary treatment or grooming could help strengthen your ownership case. These are typically treated as civil cases and go through a small claims court. Usually, the small claims court awards monetary value. However, in the case of dog ownership, it is possible to ask for non-monetary value. If this request is put it, the court could decide to award you ownership and order the dog given to you. They could also order that you receive the monetary value of the dog instead, so make sure you know which option you prefer before going to small claims court.

Are you in the middle of a divorce and worried about your pet’s best interest? Thinking about filing a claim for pet ownership? Make sure to contact an experienced claims attorney to assist you during the proceedings. Our divorce lawyers at are prepared to look over your case and give you appropriate legal advice. Call the law office of Lowthorp Richards to schedule your next consultation.

Common Reasons for Insurance Claim Denials

When you’re in an automobile accident, the last thing you want to deal with is a stubborn insurance company that refuses to help with your auto and medical costs. Sometimes claims can legally be denied due to valid reasons. In other cases, the insurer may not be fair in their denial of your claim. Before considering that your claim is being denied illegally, check through the list below to ensure you’re not making these common insurance claim mistakes.

Did You Report the Accident on Time?

It’s understandable for one to be in a state of shock after an accident. Your well-being and that of your passengers will probably be the first thing you’ll be thinking about. However, it is important that drivers who have been in a car accident report the event in a timely manner. It is also important that, should you require medical attention, you seek help in a timely manner as well. The insurance company will doubt the legitimacy of your claim and suspect that you are attempting to gain coverage for injuries you did not receive in the accident if you wait too long.

Do You Understand Your Policy?

Sometimes drivers run into trouble when they realize that certain injuries and repairs are not covered by their insurance. It may come as a nasty shock to be informed that your insurance doesn’t cover certain repairs or medical procedures. To avoid surprises, make sure you are up-to-date on your insurance policy of choice. If you don’t understand a certain part of your policy, reach out to an insurance agent and ask them to clear up your confusion. The more aware you are of what your policy covers, the less stressful it’ll be when submitting your claim.

Did You Violate State Law?

It is an almost universal requirement in the United States that drivers drive sober, with a valid license, and properly insured. If at the time of your accident you were violating state law, the insurance carrier does have a legal reason to deny your claim. Violations can range from driving while intoxicated to driving with a suspended license. Insurance companies can also deny your claim if you were driving without insurance or if the accident was avoidable.

If you’re running into trouble submitting your insurance claims or suspect your claims are being denied illegally, contact the attorneys at Lowthorp Richards. A trained legal professional will know the law and how to get an accident victim what they deserve from an insurance company.

Can I Make Sure My Assets Are Not Distributed Through the Probate Process?

Courtroom, Judge, male judge in black mirror backgroundThe probate process involves the court distributing a person’s assets upon death. It usually occurs in situations where a person does not have a will. However, just because a person has a will does not mean that their assets will definitely not be distributed through the probate process.

What to Do to Prevent Your Assets From Being Distributed Through the Probate Process

Here are a couple of tips to help you avoid having your assets distributed through the probate process:

  • Joint Ownership – Set up any real estate or other property you own so that you share ownership with the person, persons or entity that you want to be the beneficiary of the property or real estate after you die. Property or real estate that is jointly owned with a survivorship right will not be subject to the probate process.
  • Living Trust – There are both revocable and irrevocable living trusts. Revocable living trusts allow the creator of the trust to revoke it while he or she is still alive. Irrevocable trusts cannot be revoked once they are created. The way a living trust works is that you create the trust and you become the trustee of the trust, which means you fully control any assets, such as property, that you transfer to the trust while you are alive. After your death, a person who you chose to takeover as your successor trustee will distribute the property and other assets you transferred to the trust while you were alive to your chosen beneficiaries. This protects your assets from being distributed through probate.

Next month, we will examine how the transfer-on-death designation, creating a will and setting up a pay-on-death account can also enable you to avoid probate.

At Lowthorp Richards, our experienced probate attorneys have been successfully guiding people through the probate process, as well as other complex estate administration matters, for decades. We are dedicated to providing individuals and families in Ventura County, the Central Coast and throughout California with the highest caliber legal services possible. To learn more about estate administration or to set up a consultation, call Lowthorp Richards today.

When Is a No Contest Clause Ineffective in Probate Court?

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The California Court of Appeal just handed down an opinion very strictly limiting the application of a no contest clause contained within trust to later trust amendments.

Peggy was battling cancer for 5 years, during which time her friends, Tracy and David, became the exclusive suppliers of medical cannabis upon which Peggy depended for treatment.  Anticipating her demise, Peggy placed Tracy in custody of all of her estate planning documents.  Soon after, Peggy complained that Tracy read the documents and confronted her about the disposition of her estate.  Shortly after, Peggy executed a trust amendment created in secret, and without advice or assistance of her longtime estate planning attorney, leaving all of her money to Tracy – to the exclusion of Peggy’s brother and godchildren, natural objects of her bounty, and beneficiaries under the estate plan in existence when placed in Tracy’s custody.  After Peggy’s demise, Tracy produced the trust amendment, and the beneficiaries went straight to court. (more…)

Water Company Ordered to Pay Ojai Playhouse Damages

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In 2014, the historic Ojai Playhouse movie theater suffered damage after a water main break caused a flood. Now, a judge has ordered the former water purveyor of the town to pay the establishment $2.7 million worth of damages.

Golden State Water Co. once managed the water system for Ojai. The company was ordered to pay brothers Khaled Al-Awar and Walid Al-Awar, the owners of the playhouse, almost $2 million for repairs made after the theater was severely damaged, which was ordered by Ventura County Superior Court Judge Vincent O’Neill on July 19, 2017.

Personal Injuries During the Summertime

Summertime is definitely a fun time for everyone. But with the added fun comes dangerous situations. Swimming, hiking and bike riding are just a few of the activities that we love to participate in during the summer, but certainly, there are many more things that we enjoy doing outside in the summertime.

Unfortunately, just one incident is all it takes to turn our world upside down. And when we suffer personal injuries, it can be difficult to recover.

Prince’s Estate Planning Issues

The legendary rivalry between superstars Prince and Michael Jackson apparently extends beyond the grave in terms of whose estate is more difficult to navigate.  While Michael Jackson had a valid will when he died, controversy surrounded the appointment of an executor, and there remains an ongoing battle between the Jackson family and government agencies regarding the actual value of the estate.  Meanwhile, Prince, notoriously shrewd in business and control of his art and image, didn’t even leave a will.  Having died unmarried with no children (despite the numerous claims of a variety of pretenders to his throne), his statutory heirs comprise of siblings and half-siblings, and up to half of his estate will be paid to state and federal tax agencies.  Of course, the federal government and state of Minnesota are claiming the Purple One’s holdings are worth much more than the heirs claim, meaning his tax bill will be greater as well.  Moreover, the famous vault of unreleased material might double the value of his estate.  Had Prince done some basic estate planning, he could have selected specific beneficiaries and avoid probate altogether.   (more…)

Using 1031 Exchange Property as a Vacation Home

Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code allows taxpayers to exchange property held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment (hereinafter referred to as “qualified use”) for like-kind property on a tax-deferred basis. Deferred taxes means more funds to put toward replacement property(ies). You may even be able to afford to buy a replacement property in a desirable vacation area—and may be tempted to convert the property to personal use. A pure vacation home or personal residence will not meet the qualified use requirements, however, the IRS does allow some limited personal use of 1031 exchange property.