Articles Posted in Insurance Law

There are many benefits to living in California.  We have gorgeous weather, wonderful people, and beautiful natural spaces that range from beaches to mountains and deserts to forests.  Of course, there are downsides and perhaps the most-voiced concern (aside from cost of living!) is the ever-present risk of earthquakes.  While earthquakes are a natural phenomenon, the actions or inaction of people/entities can add to the risk of injury or property damage.  At the Brod Law Firm, our Northern California earthquake lawyer helps people bring civil lawsuits after a California earthquake.  These include suits against various parties whose negligence had tragic results as well as suits against insurance companies who deny valid claims.

Major Earthquakes Strike Italy and Myanmar Bringing Tragedy to Two Nations

This week, the world was reminded of the havoc and tragedy that earthquakes can unleash.  As CNN reported, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy in the early hours of Wednesday August 24.  Early reports put the death toll at 73 (Note: The number has since increased to at least 241.).  The mayor of Amatrice, where most of the fatalities occurred, told CNN: “The town is no more.”  At least 100 people were injured.  Officials expect death and injury tolls to rise in as rescuers dig through the rubble.  The risk is far from over as aftershocks are expected to roll through in the coming days.

Yearswildfire ago, if you asked someone to name the biggest meteorological threat facing California, they would probably have answered “earthquakes” without a second thought.  In recent years, however, two closely-related threats have risen to the top of the list – drought and wildfire.  Given the “wild” moniker, many people assume that they have little or no legal rights when a wildfire causes damage, injury, or loss of life.  This is not necessarily true and our California wildfire attorney helps ensure that wildfire injury victims recover money from insurers and, when there is a human cause, from those responsible for the blaze.

Wildfire Roars through Lake County

On Monday, San Jose Mercury News reported on a wildfire that is roaring through parts of Northern California.  The Lower Lake Fire, broke out on Saturday and quickly grew to cover 5 square miles, aided wildfirefightersby winds, bone-dry vegetation, and soaring temperatures that hindered firefighters’ efforts.  After seeming to calm later Saturday, wind gusts kicked up flames again on Sunday and the fire tore into parts of Lower Lake, a town of 1,200 located some 90 miles north of San Francisco.  Fire officials compared the blaze to a wave of water pouring over the city.  More than 100 homes were destroyed over the weekend and Cal Fire said thousands remain in the threat zone.

Sometimes moments go from bad to worse.  This can certainly feel like the case when you or someone you love is the victim of a hit-and-run driver.  We truly believe that most people, even if they knew they were at fault, would stop check on the individuals involved in an accident, and take responsibility.  Sadly, however, hit-and-run accidents remain a reality.  Our Oakland hit-and-run injury lawyer works with police and with private investigators to find the perpetrators of Bay Area hit-and-run crashes.  In addition to claims against the perpetrator, we can also pursue compensation via the victim’s own insurance policy.  We are committed to ensuring the injured and/or grieving receive the compensation they need and deserve following hit-and-run incidents.

Castro Valley Hit-and-Run Driver Found, Accused of Striking Two Boys with Stolen Car

CBS SF reports that authorities have located the man they believe stole a vehicle before striking two young pedestrians and fleeing the scene.  On the morning of March 7, two brothers were walking to school with their grandmother in Castro Valley.  Police say that the trio was on Meadowview Drive and heading towards Marshall Street when a black Ford Fusion veered onto the sidewalk and hit the brothers.  The crash caused severe injuries to the leg of the 6 year-old and his 8-year-old brother sustained minor injuries.

For some, a garage is simply a place to park a car, perhaps a bit more climate-control and security than an open parking slot.  For others, a garage is an extension of the home, a place for storage and engaging in hobbies from exercise to woodworking, scrapbooking to auto repair.  No matter the use, garage safety is important.  Garage fires are particularly dangerous and surprisingly common.  Prevention is (as always) best, but when a garage fire occurs our Oakland fire injury law firm takes a close look at the facts in the context of the law to determine who is at fault and who may be owed compensation.

Fire Consumes Oakland Garage, Spreads to Home

The San Jose Mercury News reported on a weekend fire in Oakland that destroyed two cars and left two people displaced.  The fire started in the garage of the Marr Avenue home and two residents were able to escape the home before firefighters arrived.  Before the Oakland and Piedmont firefighters gained control, the blaze consumed the entire garage and spread to the house and attic.  Thankfully, no one was injured, but fire officials estimate the damage will exceed $150,000 and say the home will need work before it is habitable.  Officials say the cause remains under investigation, but it appears accidental and may have involved a malfunction involving the natural gas system.

A decade ago, if you asked most Americans to name the weather/climate condition most associated with California, we have little doubt “earthquake” would have been the dominant response.  Today, however, polling might be split.  Many would answer “drought” and a third common reply might be “wildfire.”  The National Park Service defines wildfires as “an unplanned fire caused by lightning or other natural causes, by accidental (or arson-caused) human ignitions, or by an escaped prescribed fire.”   While they are known for destroying land and property, wildfire injuries and deaths are a real danger.  When a California wildfire is started by a person, intentionally or due to negligence, our Sonoma fire injury attorney is prepared to advocate for the injured or surviving relatives of individuals who died because of a wildfire sparked by another individual.

Three Fires Burn in Sonoma, Two Tied to Suspected Human Causes

wildfireOn Tuesday alone, Sonoma County and North Bay fire departments were battling three wildfires including one tied to a local beekeeper and one currently being linked to a vehicle fire.  The Press Democrat reports that a grass fire south of Sebastopol was accidentally sparked by a beekeeper employing a smoker pot to calm his hives.  Approximately two acres burned in the blaze and an old barn was destroyed.  Although high temperatures and windy conditions complicated all three fires, a large team including nine engine companies and 45 firefighters gained control of the Sebastopol blaze and limited the spread.

floodLast month, Governor Brown proposed a $1 billion water-related relief plan. In the midst of a drought of staggering proportions, many were shocked to learn that more than half of the proposed spending is earmarked for flood-control. explains: “Funding flood-control at the height of a crippling drought seems paradoxical at first glance, but Brown connected the drought to the potential for ‘extreme weather events’….[Brown stated] ‘all of a sudden, when you’re all focused on drought, you can get massive storms that flood through these channels and overflow and cause havoc.’” Further, California is geographically diverse and sees wide ranging weather conditions at any given moment. In light of these truths, our San Francisco flood injury law firm dedicates this blog entry to discussing two of the most common flood dangers: driving during floods and residential mold after a flood.

“Turn Around, Don’t Drown” – Floods & Driving

There’s one key rule that people should keep in mind when it comes to driving during flooded conditions – don’t. The title of the National Weather Service’s (“NWS”) campaign speaks for itself: “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.” According to the NWS and the Centers for Disease Control, flooding claims more lives each year than any other form of severe weather and more than half of all flood-related drownings involve a vehicle being driven into dangerous flood waters. It only takes six inches of water to knock an average person off his/her feet and two feet of water can carry away most vehicles (many are carried away by even less). Avoiding driving in flood conditions is always the smartest choice whenever possible.

Hit-and-run accidents are frightening — and frighteningly common. Hit-and-run victims are often afraid. Many of our clients tell us they worry that they will not only have to deal with their injuries, but that they will be stuck with the bill. As an Oakland hit-and-run injury lawyer, Attorney Greg Brod helps erase this fear by pursuing all avenues to ensure these victims receive the compensation they need and deserve.

Oakland Hit-and-Run Injures Five

The Oakland Tribune is continuing to follow the case of a hit-and-run accident that left five people seriously injured. On Monday, police responded to a crash at the intersection of 68th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard in the Millsmont section of Oakland. Arriving on scene, emergency crews found a 1993 four-door Oldsmobile sedan that appeared to have been broadsided at high speed. Police believe that the driver of the other vehicle ditched his/her car and fled on foot, although that vehicle was gone from the scene when emergency officials arrived.

wind.jpgThere are many weather threats that people worry about from earthquakes to lightning strikes to flooding. You might not put winds at the top of this list, but winds can and do cause major damage that can lead to serious injuries or even deaths. As with other weather-related safety threats, Mother Nature may seem like the primary culprit in wind injuries. However, our Sonoma natural disaster injury attorney knows that people and their decisions often share the blame. It can absolutely be appropriate to bring a civil claim when the negligence of a person, company, or even municipality combines with a known natural threat to leave you seriously injured or grieving.

Strong Winds Wreak Havoc in Sonoma County

As The Press Democrat reported, high winds in Sonoma County on Tuesday caused a wide range of property damage. Trees and power line were toppled, smashing into cars, damaging homes and blocking roads, closing Interstate 80 in Vallejo at the height of the afternoon commute. Winds also created other transportation problems throughout Northern California, shutting down the ferry service from San Francisco to East Bay, causing a power outage that interrupted BART services, and delaying flights out of San Francisco International Airport. Emergency dispatchers report receiving calls about more than 50 wind-related incidents and PG&E reports power outages impacted over 5,000 customers. While no injuries were reported in Sonoma County, winds were implicated in at least two deaths in Butte County, an area approximately 90 minutes north of Sacramento.

“Natural disasters” – the term speaks volumes, both about terrible consequences and about the root cause. While it may seem like there is no recourse beyond one’s own insurance (and sometimes not even that) for victims of natural disasters, this is not always the truth. Although many companies in the insurance and a range of other industries would like victims to believe otherwise, the damage is often exacerbated by human acts and in some cases the disaster itself may be a hybrid, caused by both nature and man. One area in which this rings true, an area of particular concern given the recent storms throughout the West Coast — mudslides. Our Northern California mudslide lawyer wants people injured in mudslides to know that they may have legal claims against not only their own insurance policies but against a range of players whose acts may have contributed to the frightening events.

Mudslide Closes Roadway Near Golden Gate

Early this week, large mudslide closed sections of southbound Highway 101 in Sausalito, Marin County. A large mass of earth gave way at approximately 2 A.M. on Monday, about five miles north of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. The mudslide left the highway littered with ten-foot boulders, chunks of soil, a tree, and even a light pole. While the event backed traffic up for miles and the San Francisco Chronicle warned North Bay commuters to expect long delays as Caltrans worked to clear the road, no one was injured in the slide. CHP warned, however, that the area would need to be evaluated for risks of additional slides.

Our San Francisco insurance attorneys noticed a recent interesting case for California insurance law. The case, Hull & Co. v. Superior Court, involves “stranger liability,” in other words whether a victim can sue the insurance broker who provided insurance to a business establishment, even though that victim has no direct contract with the insurance broker.

The background of the case is as follows: Jason Gonzaga was shot at a Dave & Busters bar in Southern California. Mr. Gonzaga sued the bar and also their security company, claiming that they failed to prevent the shooting incident. He settled that case, but then filed another case against the security company’s insurance provider, Burlington, claiming that they had denied the security company’s claim in bad faith under the assault and battery exclusion. At trial, the judge awarded summary judgment for the insurance company, deciding that the assault and battery exclusion was enforceable. Mr. Gonzaga then sued the wholesale insurance broker, Hull & Co., asserting that Hull had a duty of care to the security company to ensure that the insurance coverage provided for such lawsuits against the company. The trial court allowed this case to move forward.

In March, the Los Angeles Superior Court awarded summary judgment to Burlington and dismissed Mr. Gonzaga’s claim against Hull with prejudice. Mr. Gonzaga appealed to the California Supreme Court, but that appeal was denied.

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