Pre-Settlement Funding

When you begin looking for pre-settlement funding for a personal injury case you must first understand a few critical items. When applying for pre-settlement funding for a lawsuit you must first have legal representation from a lawyer or attorney. No matter which pre-settlement funding company you choose they will require you have legal representation before processing your application.

You should also know there are many different types of funding available for lawsuit cases. If you have received a settlement and are already receiving payments through a payment schedule, you should try locating a structured settlement funding company. This company provides funding based upon your annuity.

There are also other legal funding for both commercial litigation and law firm loans. While most funding companies will offer an array of different funding cases, there are those company that provide a specialized area of funding.

Pre-settlement funding is unlike a regular loan in that a pre-settlement loans are offered on a non-recourse basis. Non-recourse means you only have to pay back the funding if you are successful in receiving compensation for your case. Pre-settlement funding are generally offer a higher interest rate than that of a standard loan because these loans are more riskier for the lender.

When evaluating a pre-settlement lawsuit funding company you should understand the following:

  • Each company sets their own rates
  • Companies tend to charge different rates for the same cases
  • Some pre-settlement companies will only take selected personal injury cases while others will take a vast majority of personal injury cases.
  • Depending upon the strength of your case will depended upon the approval of your case
  • If a pre-settlement funding company takes on a higher risk their rates are typically higher

When you are searching for the right pre-settlement funding its better to have more alternatives. The right thing to do is select the company that makes most sense to you. Whether you are searching for the lowest rate, a flexible payment structure or a company that will offer you the most amount of cash upfront, finding that company can be a very complicated task.

LawLeaf is a free legal funding service that gives consumers an option. LawLeaf works with those people trying to secure the right pre-settlement funding for their personal injury case. We work with numerous legal funding companies ready to compete for your business.

If you are currently searching for Pre-Settlement funding visit LawLeaf today.

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Why the Insurance Industry Wants to Defeat Referendum 67

Karen Koehler, President of the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association, recently wrote a letter to the state bar accusing the insurance industry of using slanderous and reckless television ads against trial lawyers. The insurance industry has already spent $7.7 Million to defeat Referendum 67, the law up for vote this November. Referendum 67 is designed to force insurance companies to treat their policy holders fairly during the claims process. Proponents of Referendum 67 have raised over $750,000 mostly from trial lawyers.

With support from Democrats and Republicans alike, the Washington state legislature enacted Referendum 67 into law earlier this year. The insurance industry was unhappy. So a handful of out-of-state insurance companies spent millions to obtain more than 150,000 signatures to put the law up for a vote this November. The insurance industry has cleverly called itself “Consumers Against Higher Insurance Rates.”

The major argument against Referendun 67 is that the new law will increase insurance premiums for everyone. But this makes me wonder. Why would the insurance industry spend $7.7 Million to defeat a measure that could conceivably give them an excuse to raise premiums and make even more money off of Washington State citizens? Do you smell a rat with this line of reasoning? I mean, are you telling me that the insurance company really cares about saving us consumers as much money as possible by paying lower premiums?

And what about good ol’ market forces at work? If insurance companies choose to violate Referendum 67 and as a result then must increase their rates, won’t this provide an incentive to other insurance companies to comply with the law so they can keep their rates low, and hence gain more market share and increase profits as a result?

Follow the money. There is something remarkably suspect about an entire industry spending millions and millions to defeat a measure that is designed to protect consumers (that’s you and me) from being screwed by that industry. Are the citizens of this great state really to believe that the insurance industry is really concerned about our pocket books? And saving us as much money as possible? (yes, I’m smirking…)

What about triple damages? Some people have problems with this part of the law. But you really have to understand the business of insurance and why this provision is absolutely necessary. First, the only incentive for insurance companies to obey the law is the prospect of losing money or paying out more money if they are caught cheating or acting unfairly. Second, more and more carriers employ the tactic of spending much more money to fight a case that could be settled by a much lesser amount. Many people are surprised to learn that many insurance companies will spend $50,000 to fight a $25,000 claim. Why? Because of the policy of discouraging people from hiring attorneys and asserting claims. Probably 80-90% of claimants will usually fold and accept the company’s last low ball offer rather than hire counsel and litigate. The carriers know this, and they make sure the other 10-20% who choose to fight will know how difficult it will be to recover on a legitimate claim. In the end, the carrier still makes a lot of money off of those claims that are settled for a fraction of what the claimant is legally entitled to receive.

www.InjuryTrialLawyer.com and www.Approve67.com

Litigation – The Importance Of Adequate Insurance

Professionals are always at risk of being sued for loss or damage caused allegedly by mistake, omission, negligence or other error. The range of claimants is virtually endless. Today’s client may well be tomorrow’s plaintiff/applicant. This article sets out the ways in which professionals can manage the risk of litigation by third parties, former clients, disgruntled staff or even Commonwealth and State Government instrumentalities.

The article explains the ranges of insurance cover available to professionals.

The second part of this article discusses a second area of asset and liability protection being the choice of practice structure. The various alternative structures are identified and their advantages and disadvantages identified.

The third part of this article talks about the threat to asset and liability protection by company winding up and insolvency.

Importance of Adequate Insurance

Insurance is a form of both risk transfer and risk financing. Insofar as a claim falls within an insurance policy, financial burden is transferred from insured to insurer. Alternatively, the insurer provides to the insured sufficient funds to pay third party demands.

Professionals such as architects, accountants, engineers, medical practitioners, quantity surveyors, lawyers, physiotherapists and others should consider a matrix of insurance to assist financial survival and then financial success.

Professional Indemnity

This policy provides cover for breaches of duties owed in a professional capacity as a professional practicing in a specific area. The protection is in relation to claims made against the professional and notified to the insurer within the period of insurance.

Public Liability

This insurance protects professionals against legal liability for personal injury and damage to property of third parties which arises in a non-professional context. Not everything a professional does in his or her business is a professional act. For instance, a building surveyor may be responsible for personal injury or property damage on a building site as a result of carelessness – e.g. causing a tripping, slipping or falling hazard at a building site or at the surveyor’s office or at a client’s business during visits before a professional relationship exists or after one has concluded which subsequently caused personal injury or property damage. There will be a number of exclusions including liability arising within a professional context.

Directors & Officers Liability

Where professionals practice via a company, they may be directors or senior officers. Particularly in larger private companies working as professionals, directors and senior corporate officers owe a variety of statutory and common law duties to a wide variety of persons such as shareholders, creditors and employees. For instance, company directors face civil liability and fines if they allow their companies to trade whilst insolvent. Directors may face personal liability if they discriminate against employees or potential employees when hiring or firing staff. Likewise, directors cannot give preference to certain classes of creditor if the company is facing insolvency or liquidation.

Business Interruption

Busy professionals, I suspect, give little thought to what would happen to their business if the premises from which they practise is destroyed by mundane risks such as fire or storm let alone more exotic risks such as terrorist action, civil unrest or nuclear radiation. In reality, a professional practice can be badly affected if the business is interrupted and cannot be carried out because buildings have to be rebuilt, offices have to be re-furbished, records need to be re-written and replaced and businesses need to be relocated, either temporarily or permanently. The cost to professional practices of this interruption is insurable through business interruption insurance.

Accident & Health/Income Protection

Many professionals practice in small partnerships or as sole practitioners. Most professionals have been very busy in recent times. Most professionals tend to assume that the money will keep on being generated indefinitely. What happens, however, if you befall a non-work work-related injury or illness which prevents you from working for a lengthy period of, say, three months, six months, twelve months etc? If you practice on your own, who will take over the responsibility for running your files? Who will generate the professional fees which you and your family need to live on? Who will pay for locums to run your practice? Accident & Health Protection policies, whilst expensive, do provide income streams in these circumstances.

Employee Dishonesty

Sometimes, employees of professional practices will have access to client funds, particularly where multiple permits and inspections are being organized where building estates with multiple allotments are created. This insurance provides coverage for employee theft of client funds. It is sometimes known as fidelity guarantee insurance.

Statutory Fines & Penalties

Traditionally, this type of insurance supplements professional indemnity policies. It provides coverage for the cost of lawyers in defending misconduct cases brought by disciplinary organizations such as the Building Registration Board, the Building Appeals Board, the Building Commission, the Medical Practitioners’ Board, the Royal Australasian Institute of Architects, and the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner etc. The legal fees you may incur in defending such cases are indemnifiable whether the charge is established or not. Other policies go further and seem to provide indemnity for the final penalty imposed. You need to read those policies very carefully. They may be contrary to public policy. It would be wise to seek legal advice before paying premiums for those policies.

Michael Pickering is a solicitor employed at LAC Lawyers Melbourne. He has nearly 20 years experience as a lawyer.

Life Insurance Claim Denial; Don’t Let it Happen to You

Insurance, especially life insurance, can be a very confusing topic for most Americans. We often pay various insurance premiums our whole lives. Understanding the nuts and bolts of your life insurance policies can benefit you and your family greatly in the unfortunate event of your death or the death of a family member. Life insurance comes in a bewildering array of variations. There’s whole life insurance, variable life insurance, and universal life insurance, all of which are collectively known as cash value life insurance policies. With these policies, a portion of the premium you pay goes to purchase insurance coverage, while another portion is used as an investment. Taxes on the investment portion of the policy are generally deferred until you collect the proceeds.

If you are married, especially if you have dependent children, or if you have debts such as a mortgage, car payment, or credit card balances, your family could be at serious financial risk if you should die suddenly and your income were suddenly no longer available. Spouses are often left unable to make all the payments, raise the children, educate them, etc. on a single income. Life insurance is your family’s protection against the drastic lifestyle changes that occur in the event of your death.

We tend to think that if we buy life insurance and pay the premiums, then upon our death, collecting the life insurance will be easy for our beneficiary, but that is not always the case. Life insurance companies review each claim carefully before parting with their money and some life insurance claims are denied. Apart from fraud in the policy on the part of the policy holder, the most common ground life insurers use to deny claims is that there was a “material misrepresentation” on the life insurance application. That misrepresentation may occur in the original application for insurance or in a later amendment to the application.

A material misrepresentation sufficient to deny a claim cannot be just any misstatement. Under many states’ laws, a material misrepresentation is one that, if fully and truthfully disclosed, would have led to refusal by the insurance company to issue the life insurance policy. Material misrepresentations accusations are commonly made about just about anything on the life insurance application including the person’s employment history, age, income, other insurance in force, whether or not they smoke cigarettes, driving record, drinking history, hobbies, etc. The most commonly alleged misrepresentations involve the applicant’s heath and medical history.

Recovering money from an insurance company that denies a life insurance claim is no easy task. Many life insurance claims are paid without much fuss on the part of the insurer, but there are times when claims are delayed and denied. The claims that are subject to the most suspicion are the ones filed in the first two years the policy is in force. In many states, the insurance company can deny the claim by retroactively rejecting the application if it finds that the application contained a “material misrepresentation”.

Like most insurance companies, life insurance companies are regulated on the state level. If you have questions regarding your claim, its delay or its denial, contact your state department of insurance and an experienced life insurance claim denial attorney.

If your life insurance claim has been delayed or denied in New York or New Jersey, please contact the Insurance Litigation Attorneys at Trief & Olk.

Finding the Right Lawyer for Your Insurance Claim

When you are caught in a legal dilemma regarding your insurance claim, whether for personal injury, worker’s compensation or social security, you may want to be sure that you have an advocate that will fully support you and your legal rights. That means you must be sure you’re looking for the right lawyer who has the expertise regarding your case. Remember that there are different kinds of lawyers that practices on different areas of insurance. Say you have an insurance claim, which eventually got denied, and you believe that your claim was denied in bad faith. You need to avail of the services of a bad faith lawyer. For injuries while on the job, you need to hire a worker’s compensation lawyer. For social security issues like Medicare and disability benefits, a social security or disability lawyer will be the best fit. There are plenty more other lawyers that fit into different areas, like medical malpractice, slip and fall, premise and product liability and more, and chances are you will be able to look up for a lawyer that specializes on those fields. You can seek for these lawyers thru referrals, yellow pages, websites, or thru your state bar association.

Once you found a lawyer that specializes on your case, find out who he/she primarily represents. In some cases, the lawyer you may get acutally does not represent consumers but instead they do represent employers and insurance companies, which is not a good idea. If your lawyer represents consumers like you, then proceed with making an initial contact with him. You may also try to contact your local bar association to see if that lawyer has a good standing.

Oftentimes lawyers may have websites or ads on yellow pages advertising their legal services. Try to analyze if their ads are compelling or sensible enough. Some lawyers falsely advertise their services so they can get more potential clients, even if they don’t have an actual extensive experience with handling special cases, or worse, haven’t handled even a single one of those cases. Ask for references too, if possible. Some lawyers may disclose information about their previous clients; others may not due to confidentiality agreements. Either way, try to obtain as much references as you can to check the level of confidence and trust that people may have with the lawyer you’re planning to hire. Some law firms’ websites have info about their backgrounds and list of accomplishments, and usually they have an FAQs section in there, so it’s good to check them out as well.

Bringing a lawsuit against an insurance company is a very difficult task. Insurance companies and employers may usually hire good attorneys as well to fight against your claim. So by selecting a good lawyer to hire, you get a better legal representation and bigger chances of obtaining favorable settlements or verdicts. It all boils down to using your common sense and trusting your instincts, plus assessing your confidence and comfort levels with selecting the lawyer of your choice.

Our Los Angeles Accident Attorneys specialize in all fields of personal injury, business law, social security, and employment cases.

California Insurance Coverage

In a recent case (November 2006), the California Court of Appeal held that an assessment of punitive damages against a general contractor is warranted for lying about insurance coverage to the detriment of the property owner.

In the case of Kelly v. Haag, San Diego County Superior Court Case No.GIC830629, the property owner employed his friend to do work on his condominium. The property owner asked the contractor if he had insurance, and the contractor said he did. During demolition work one of the workers broke a fire sprinkler head.

The fire sprinkler head leaked for 15 to 20 minutes, because the worker did not know where the water shut-off valve was. The condo as well as the condos underneath were damages. After the incident the contractor confessed that he was actually uninsured.

The condo owner filed a lawsuit and among other things alleged fraud. The court assessed $159,140.22 in compensatory damages against the contractor and a subcontractor. The court also assessed $75,000 in punitive damages against the contractor individually, finding he had a minimum net worth of $750,000.

The contractor appealed and the Court of Appeal reversed the punitive damages assessment. The court of appeal reiterated the purpose of punitive damages.

The court stated that an award of punitive damages hinges on three factors: the reprehensibility of the defendant’s conduct; the reasonableness of the relationship between the award and the plaintiff’s harm; and, in view of the defendant’s financial condition, the amount necessary to punish him or her and discourage future wrongful conduct.

The court stated that it is obvious that the punishment must be severe enough to keep the contractor from engaging in that conduct, but the punishment must not be so excessive such that the defendant does not have the ability to pay. In determining the proper assessment of punitive damages the defendant’s actual financial condition is
essential.

The assessment of punitive damages should be based on the defendant’s net worth, but that other factors must also be considered such as income. The financial condition at the time of trial is what is relevant, not what the financial condition could be or was.

In this case the only evidenced presented was oral testimony from the plaintiff’s sister. The plaintiff’s sister worked for plaintiff’s real estate development company and oversaw the condominium remodel. Even though the court did not address the relationship it clearly can be construed as biased opinion instead of admissible evidence.

She testified that the contractor purchased a large home and that he owned a home in San Diego for eight to 10 years. She had no knowledge of the equity or debt of the defendant.

In this case the contractor did not testify and the plaintiff’s attorney failed to obtain information from the contractor through a process called discovery. So there was insufficient evidence to show what if any property the contractor owned and what if any debt was on the property. Basically the contractor’s financial status was unknown.

The court of appeal dismissed the punitive damages assessment on the grounds that the condo owner failed to produce enough evidence as to the wealth of the general contractor, but the court essentially stated that the assessment would stand if the property owner had presented sufficient evidence to establish the financial position of the contractor.

The condo owner asked for a retrial on the issue of punitive damages, but the court denied the request. The court declined to allow the plaintiff to pursue a second trial on the issue of punitive damages, because the plaintiff had a full and fair opportunity to present the case and plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove the wealth of the defendant.

In California punitive damages are usually assessed when there is fraud, oppression, or malice. Any type of deception is generally considered fraud. In this case punitive damages were approximately 10% of the net worth of the defendant. Punitive damages are capped based on the underlying claim. A multiplier of more than 5-7 times the underlying
claim is generally considered too excessive.

In this case the 75,000 assessment was less than a multiplier of one, so there was no problem as far as the amount of the award. If the contractor had a wealth in excess of $1.5 million the court would have been able to assess about $700,000 in punitive damages. How much is assessed depends on how bad the conduct is. Knowledge and intent of conduct usually results in greater punishment.

Contractors usually generate more complaints than any other industry and as a result have caused the California Legislature to enact very complicated rules and regulations pertaining to contractors and juries are less likely to look favorably to a contractor when deciding on punitive damages.

In this case the critical part was proving the net worth and general financial status of the contractor and there was no jury to decide punitive damages.

If punitive damages are assessed and paid, then they have be shared with the State of California. California law was changed to increase revenues to the State from windfalls to plaintiffs from punitive damages.

Arnold Hernandez, is an attorney in San Marcos, California. He represents small businesses and individuals primarily in employment law and in personal injury claims. More information at http://www.arnoldhernandez.com

Disability Retirement Laws – Fers and Csrs Employees

– What is the difference between the madman, the mediocre, and the Master? The madman fails to master reality, and therefore is unable to function with knowledge; the mediocre may have some knowledge, but fails to master it; and the Master — he is the rare one who sees the reality, seeks the knowledge, and is able to grasp both.
— From Ancient Parables

I have often discussed the legal advantages of being separated from Federal Service for one’s “medical inability to perform” one’s job, which results in what is commonly known as the “Bruner Presumption”, where such a termination results in a prima facie showing of his or her burden of proof. What this means is that, with such a termination, the “burden of production” shifts to the Office of Personnel Management, who must disprove your entitlement to disability retirement. Bruner v. Office of Personnel Management, 996 F.2d 290, 294 (Fed. Cir. 1993) Bruner was a 1993 case, and still applies today. However, further developments since then have expanded the applicability of the Bruner Presumption, and they are of importance for those filing for disability retirement.

Some recent developments impacting FERS and CSRS disability retirement applicants:

The Merit Systems Protection Board has held that removal for “extended absences is equivalent to removal for physical inability to perform where it is accompanied by specifications indicating that the decision to remove was based on medical documentation suggesting that the appellant was disabled and unable to perform her duties.” McCurdy v. OPM, Docket #DA-844E-03-0088-I-1 (April 30, 2004), citing as authority Ayers-Kavtaradze v. OPM, 91 M.S.P.R. 397 (2002).

What this means is that, the mere fact that a removal letter does not specifically state that you are being separated from service for you “medical inability to perform” your job, does not necessarily mean that you are not entitled to the Bruner Presumption. That is why it is often important to have an attorney involved in negotiating the terms of a removal action, especially where removal is an action about to happen.

For instance, if it is becoming clear that you have been on LWOP for a period approaching a year, it might be a good idea to submit medical reports and documents showing the medical basis for your LWOP. Or, if a Notice of Proposed Removal has been issued, it is important to respond to such a proposal by submitting medical documentation establishing the basis for your non-attendance at work.

Now, the next and natural question is: How far will the Merit Systems Protection Board go in giving you the Bruner Presumption? The answer: It is not always important to get the Bruner Presumption, as it is to argue for the Bruner Presumption. In my experience litigating these cases before the Board, I have found that it is helpful to make a forceful argument that my client should be entitled to the Bruner Presumption, based upon all of the circumstantial evidence. And, even if I am not able to convince the Administrative Judge that my client is entitled to the Bruner Presumption, the argument itself highlights the fact to the Judge that it was a close call — and this often leads to a victory.

Indeed, as a rather funny aside, after I had submitted a legal memorandum and argued to a Judge during a Prehearing Conference that the Bruner Presumption should apply in a particular case. The Judge stated to me, “Mr. McGill, according to your argument, the Bruner Presumption should always apply!” To which I responded: “Your Honor, that would indeed be my preference.”

Furthermore, it is also of vital importance to appeal a removal action whenever possible and legally permissible, especially where the removal action was based upon the alleged misconduct of the individual. Why? Because by appealing the removal action, you always stand the chance of coming to a compromise with the Agency, and having the Agency change the basis of the removal to one of “inability to perform the job” or, at the very least, to “resignation based upon medical problems”.

The case-law is consistent in holding that the Board will “generally give effect to the terms of a settlement agreement between an applicant for disability retirement and her employing agency in determining the applicant’s entitlement to disability retirement.” Jordan v. Office of Personnel Management, 77 M.S.P.R. 610, 614-17 (1998), recons. Denied, 86 M.S.P.R. 144 (2000); and Bynum v. OPM, DC-831E-00-0093-I-1 (June 29, 2001).

Similarly, cases such as Morton v. OPM, PH-844E-99-0224-I-1 (June 28, 2001) — where, while the Board found that the Appellant was not entitled to disability retirement, went out of its way to clarify the fact that the Administrative Judge was “improperly influenced by” the original removal action, and that the original removal action should not have been considered in making the determination concerning disability retirement entitlement. Also, in Lewis v. OPM, CH-831E-98-0434-I-2, the Board stated unequivocally that the Board “will give effect to the terms of a settlement agreement between an applicant for disability retirement and her employing agency, in determining the applicant’s entitlement to disability retirement.”

In other words, even if you were originally removed for misconduct, if your removal is later changed by a settlement agreement with the Agency, and you subsequently file for disability retirement, the Administrative Judge must keep a blind eye with respect to the original removal action. In the course of representing Federal and Postal Workers to obtain disability retirement benefits, I have always tried to emphasize the fact that, while it is each individual’s choice as to whether or not to hire an attorney, you should always proceed with the greatest tool available — knowledge.

Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal Employees under FERS and CSRS. However, as with all benefits, the right to it remains unclaimed unless one proves, by a preponderance of the evidence, that one is legally entitled to it. To prove your claim, you must go at it from a position of strength — and this requires knowledge.

My name is Robert R. McGill, Esquire. I am an attorney who specializes in disability retirement claims. If you would like to discuss your particular case, you may contact me at 1-800-990-7932, or email me at DisabilityAtty@msn.com or at http://federaldisabilitylawyer.com/.