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Uninsured Motorist Case: What is the ‘Genuine Dispute’ Doctrine?

Uninsured Motorist Case: What is the ‘Genuine Dispute’ Doctrine?

As a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who routinely handles uninsured motorist cases, this is a question that comes up from time to time. I’ve discussed previously how, when one presents an uninsured motorist case to one’s own auto insurance company, the insured driver has significant leverage over his or her insurance company. That’s because the insurance company has to treat its own customer as it would treat itself.  The law forbids insurance companies from playing their usual games to try and deprive injured claimants of their rightful compensation. A common strategy insurance companies use to try and get around this requirement is to argue that it has a “genuine dispute” with its insured driver as to the value of the case. Not so fast, said the Court of Appeal in the recent case of Zubillaga v. AllState Indemnity. The plaintiff in that case was severely injured when a car ran a red light and plowed into her.  The other driver was at fault, and the plaintiff settled with that driver’s insurance for the minimum policy amount of $15,000. The plaintiff then presented an underinsured motorist claim to All State, her own insurance company, for her own policy amounts of $50,000, (less the $15,000 she received), for a total of $35,000. All State delayed.  They lowballed the plaintiff even though she was a paying All State customer.  All State argued that her future medical treatment was not necessary or related to the collision. The plaintiff demanded arbitration, and at the hearing, the arbitrator awarded her the full $35,000.  After All State paid it, plaintiff sued All State for bad faith. She argued that All...
Homeowners are Now Responsible to Maintain Sidewalks in Los Angeles!

Homeowners are Now Responsible to Maintain Sidewalks in Los Angeles!

As a Los Angeles trip and fall lawyer, I have chronicled the sad state of the City’s sidewalks for my readers and clients. Last year, the City Council finally came up with a solution to fix the sidewalks and try to reduce the number of dangerous conditions of public property. What most people probably don’t know is that the City recently shifted the responsibility for future repairs to adjacent homeowners. Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 62.104, was passed in November of 2016, and became effective January 1, 2017. The Code previously placed responsibility on the City for repairing sidewalks that became uplifted as a result of City-owned trees.  That exception no longer applies. Practically speaking, this means homeowners are responsible for repairing and maintaining the sidewalk that fronts his or her home.  If there’s a dangerous sidewalk, that homeowner has to fix it. The homeowner can still call 311 to have the City install temporary asphalt patches.  But these patches most often provide only a temporary fix.  Tree roots will keep growing, eventually making the patch obsolete. Bottom line–as of January 1, 2017, a homeowner who does not maintain or repair a sidewalk in front of his or her home might be held responsible in a subsequent trip and fall on a Los Angeles sidewalk. Make sure your homeowner’s insurance premiums are paid! For questions about your Los Angeles sidewalk trip and fall case, the Rabbi Lawyer is ready to assist,...
Ninth Circuit Rules in Police Dog Bite Case

Ninth Circuit Rules in Police Dog Bite Case

In the past, I’ve discussed the unique area of law involving police dogs. This week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a case brought against the City of San Diego which challenged the city’s use of police dogs to apprehend criminal suspects. The case of Lowry v. City of San Diego stretches back to 2010.  Sara Lowry was sleeping on a couch in her office in San Diego.  She got up to use the restroom and accidentally triggered the building’s silent burglar alarm. Officers from the San Diego Police Department arrived on scene with a police dog named Bak.  The officers announced that they would unleash Bak and got no response from Ms. Lowry, who was still asleep.  After the officers unleashed Bak, the dog pounced on Ms. Lowry and bit her on the face.  When the officer in charge realized Ms. Lowry was not a burglar, he commanded Bak to release her grip.  Ms. Lowry suffered a torn lip that required three stitches. Ms. Lowry sued the San Diego Police Department, alleging that the Department’s dog policy of “bite and hold” was an unconstitutional use of force. Ms. Lowry argued that the policy employed by the City’s police dogs–who are trained to always bite first until officers can ascertain the facts on the ground–is an unconstitutional violation of the 4th Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable seizures. The Ninth Circuit’s full panel disagreed. The 10-1 decision affirmed that San Diego’s policy of allowing its dogs to “bite and hold” is a critical tool to ensure officer safety.  The Court ruled that even though in this particular case, officers encountered a false alarm, a reasonable...
My Podcast Interview Discussing Uninsured Motorist Coverage

My Podcast Interview Discussing Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Recently I’ve been signing up more Los Angeles area hit and run cases. I also frequently receive questions about how uninsured motorist claims work. I’m pleased to share my recent podcast interview on EPN where I answer many common questions about hit and runs and uninsured motorist claims. The takeaway:  Los Angeles has over 20,000 hit and runs per year, according to the LAPD. Make sure you’re properly covered with an adequate amount of uninsured motorist coverage! For questions about your Los Angeles hit and run or uninsured motorist case, the Rabbi Lawyer is ready to assist, 24/6....
Serving Alcohol: When is the Bar Liable?

Serving Alcohol: When is the Bar Liable?

If a bar or licensed establishment serves alcohol in California, and a patron becomes intoxicated and causes injury to another, can the bar be held liable for the third person’s injuries? The question sheds light on what’s known as the “Dram Shop” statutes.  A little history is in order. For many years (what the law calls “at common law”), bars or “dram shops” were not held liable when a drunk patron went out and injured someone else.  The reasoning was that when a third person was injured by a drunk patron, the consumption of the alcohol was the cause of the injuries.  The bar furnishing the alcohol to the patron was not the legal cause of the injuries. During the 1970s, several California Supreme Court cases overturned this precedent.  The cases held that a bar could be liable when a drunk patron went out and hurt someone else. That changed in 1978 when the State Legislature enacted Civil Code 1714.  This law restored the prior precedent, and essentially provided immunity to bars for injuries caused by drunk bar patrons. The Civil Code does, however, contains an important exception: when alcohol is served to a minor at a residence. In that case, parents who knowingly serve alcohol to a minor (under the age of 21) can be held civilly liable by a third person injured by that intoxicated minor. It is also a misdemeanor for an establishment to serve or sell alcohol to a minor. The takeaway–bars are immune from lawsuits when a patron, under the influence of alcohol served at the bar, injures someone else.  If that person was a minor, there could be liability based on the particular circumstances. Contact...
Is the “3 Foot Rule” for Bicyclists Working?

Is the “3 Foot Rule” for Bicyclists Working?

Two years ago, the three feet for safety act became law in California. It forbids drivers from passing a bicyclist unless there’s a minimum of 3 feet clearance between car and bike. According to a thought-provoking article in the Orange County Register, the law isn’t working in the OC. Twelve bicyclists were killed throughout Orange County in 2016 in collisions with cars.  That means roughly one cyclist was killed per month each month of 2016. Despite the increased awareness, “share the road” signs, and clearly marked bike lanes, too many drivers are colliding with cyclists, causing serious injuries or worse. In 2013, California lost 123 bicyclists.  The DMV says that each year, on average, over 100 people are killed on their bikes in California. The article discusses important ways that both drivers and bicyclists can help reduce car versus bicycle collisions. For questions about your bicycle collision case in Orange County or Los Angeles, the Rabbi Lawyer is ready to assist,...