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Articles Posted in Insurance Information

Recently Southern California has been hit by a series of back to back earthquakes and several aftershocks. According to the Los Angeles Times, the first quake with a magnitude of 6.4, occurred on July 4th—the second quake occurred the next day, and this time it was a 7.1 magnitude quake.

The epicenter of both quakes was located near Ridgecrest, CA, a Mojave Desert town around 125 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The shaking from the quakes was “felt as far away as Phoenix, Las Vegas, Baja California and Reno.” Since the quakes occurred there have been hundreds of aftershocks.

Thankfully, no one was killed in these earthquakes, though many people in Ridgecrest suffered minor injuries. There was, however, significant structural damages to homes, stores, and infrastructure—”The earthquake sparked several gas leaks and four fires, destroying several mobile homes.” Many homes were weakened in the initial quakes and officials are concerned that aftershocks could cause further damage or collapse.

When you are involved in a car accident, it can be life changing, especially if you suffer injuries as a result. It can be particularly difficult if you are a passenger in the vehicle, as you had no control over avoiding the accident. As a result of the accident, you may be facing medical costs and even a lengthy and expensive recovery. In situations like these, it is important to note that as a passenger injured in a Southern California car accident, you have the right to receive compensation for your injuries.

Southern California Passenger Personal Injury Claim

When you are a passenger in a vehicle that is involved in an accident, you are not considered at fault. This means that you will be able to make a personal injury claim for the costs of your injuries regardless of which driver was at fault for the accident.

If you’ve been in an Orange County car accident, you’re aware of the shock and fright brought on by such an event. Car accidents can shake you up physically and mentally. Immediately after an accident, you’re likely thinking of how badly you’ve been injured, whether the people in the car with you are okay, and the damage to your car. Yet, in the days to come, there are several reports you should file. Here’s a handy list for you to keep track of the reports to make:

  • File a Police Report Within 24 Hours of the Crash: You will need to file a police report even if no one involved in your accident was injured. According to the California Vehicle Code, Section 20008, any driver of any vehicle who has been in a car accident must report the accident to either the California Highway Patrol, or the local police department where the crash took place. This report has to be filed within 24 hours of your accident. Generally, the police officer arriving at the scene will write this report. You should tell the officer your version of what happened and whether you are injured. Try to get a copy of the police report to take home with you, because your insurance company will likely require a copy.
  • File a Report with the California DMV: If any of the following events happened because of your accident, you are required to report the crash to the California DMV:

According to CNN, a magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck today off of the coast of Chile. It is not presently known if there are any earthquake related injuries or fatalities. There is, however, a threat of a tsunami striking the Chilean coast. As of now, reports from the Los Angeles Times indicate that there is not currently a tsunami threat for California.

Recently, after a long period of time without noticeable earthquakes in Los Angeles, there have been numerous earthquakes that have rattled our area. Fortunately, none have been as powerful as the 1994 earthquake, which caused massive earthquake damage and many injuries and deaths in Los Angeles.

We wish to remind our readers, including our personal injury clients, to make sure they are protected by earthquake insurance, in case another “big one” hits the Los Angeles area. Not only that, it is very important to have bottled water and canned food in case of shortages and power outages. This was a major problem after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

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Uber, a leader in the ride-sharing business, where users order a driver to their location through use of a smartphone application, has increased the insurance coverage that it provides for Uber drivers. Prior to this move, according to the Los Angeles Times, the California Department of Insurance claimed that there was a gap in Uber’s insurance coverage, as it did not cover Uber drivers who were not carrying passengers.

With this change, Uber claims that it now will carry at least the minimum amount of liability insurance coverage for its drivers who cause auto accident injuries to other people. This is an important legal distinction that was highlighted in an Uber pedestrian accident in San Francisco, where a girl was killed after being struck by an Uber car. Uber has attempted to avoid liability for that California wrongful death accident by claiming that the driver was not carrying a passenger at the time, so not technically working for Uber.

The new policy will cover Uber drivers, not only when they are not carrying a passenger for Uber, but also when they are not even responding to an Uber pick-up request. This means that if a driver is available for an Uber pick-up, but merely driving around for whatever reason, if he or she causes an accident, Uber’s insurance will take responsibility.

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Lyft, a popular ride-sharing application, has announced that it is increasing the auto insurance coverage for its drivers. Currently, the law in California only requires ride-sharing companies, like Lyft, Uber and Sidecar, to carry one-million dollars in car accident liability insurance. This is the insurance coverage that covers people who are injured in an accident caused by a driver working for one of these companies.

The law does not, however, require that the companies provide collision coverage, which is used to repair the vehicle damaged in a car accident, or uninsured motorist coverage, which would cover the driver and passengers of the vehicle, if the other driver causes the car accident and does not have coverage or does not have adequate coverage for the serious injuries suffered.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Uber has said that they have been providing collision and uninsured motorist coverage since December. Lyft is now offering its drivers the option of carrying collision coverage and uninsured motorist coverage. If covered, it is unknown how much uninsured motorist coverage these companies will provide for their drivers and customers.

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A Los Angeles gas explosion at a Sports Chalet in La Cañada Filtridge resulted in serious burn injuries to two store employees. According to the Los Angeles Times, the employees were going to shut off a gas valve, after a person reported smelling gas, when the explosion occurred. The two employees suffered serious burn injuries in the gas explosion.

The employees reportedly suffered second and third degree burns in the La Cañada Filtridge gas explosion. Sport Chalet, the owners of the store, and employers of the injured employees, has apparently offered their support to the injury victims and is having a blood drive on March 26th, with the American Red Cross.

The store employees, who were injured on their job, should be able to make a Los Angeles workers’ compensation claim against their employers’ workers’ compensation insurance coverage. This is coverage that will cover the employees regardless of who caused the accident. From a Los Angeles personal injury standpoint, if any customers of the store had been injured, they would have to make a claim against whoever was responsible for causing the gas explosion in La Cañada Filtridge.

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As reported here on March 1, 2013, in our blog entitled, “Workers’ Compensation Pays Cash Benefits to Out of State Athletes,” California provides workers’ compensation benefits for injured pro athletes. California is unique in that it does this not only for our own athletes, that is players and former players of our own California NFL teams, like the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers, but it also does it for players and former players for any out-of-state team who played any games in California.

The reason California pays these work comp benefits is because we are unique in at least two respects:

First, under California law, an injured employee based in another state may claim benefits under California’s workers’ compensation system if the injured worker can show any injury occurred here. And, with all the pro teams located in this state, it is rare for a pro athlete not to play any games in California.

Second, California is one of just nine (9) states that allow workers’ compensation claims for “cumulative trauma injuries”. These are the types of injuries that build up over time. The most common non-sports cumulative trauma injury is carpal tunnel injury which many workers routinely suffer from many years of typing. In the NFL, the most common cumulative trauma injuries have been to knees (like Adrian Peterson’s torn ACL, but returning to win MVP), necks [like Payton Manning returning from four (4) reported neck surgeries to win Comeback Player of the Year] and backs.

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Did you know that retired professional athletes with non-California teams are receiving California Workers’ Compensation payments?

Former pro athletes who previously played for non-California teams are eligible for and receiving money under California’s workers’ compensation insurance program. According to the Los Angeles Times, former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis, who played just nine times in California in his 88 game career, received $199,000 from a California workers’ compensation court. He was paid this workers’ compensation money for the lifelong cumulative effects of his NFL injuries, including injuries to his head, arms, legs and general body, per records of workers’ compensation.

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We are investigating allegations of bad faith insurance practices and conduct by UNUM Insurance, also known as UNUM Provident Insurance, including allegations of UNUM conducting biased investigations in order to deny benefits to its own insureds.

Insurance bad faith refers to a claim that insureds and sometimes others may bring against their own insurer for the insurance company’s bad actions and wrongful conduct, including wrongfully denying claims, delaying payments and communications, and unreasonable and improper investigation practices and tactics.

We are informed that UNUM is one insurer with a history of complaints made against it for bad faith handling of claims, including disability claims.

The UNUM web site states, “Unum is a leading provider of financial protection benefits in the United States and the United Kingdom. Unum’s employee benefits portfolio includes disability, life, accident and critical illness insurance, which help protect millions of working people and their families in the event of illness or injury.”

However, research into UNUM has revealed numerous allegations and complaints of bad faith insurance practices, including the following allegations:

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