Articles Posted in Insurance

I am a trial lawyer. A personal injury lawyer in the San Fernando Valley, who is proud to represent victims of car crashes and dangerous conditions that cause falls, which injure or kill. But, I am perhaps proudest of the work I do as lawyer representing victims of medical malpractice. It is my work as a medical malpractice attorney that has brought me the most satisfaction and made the biggest difference in the lives of my clients.

Unfortunately, limits on the amount a victim of medical negligence can recover in California have made it increasingly difficult to help those injured by health care workers. A $250,000 cap on damages, which was passed in 1975, has never been adjusted for inflation.

packactnewlogo4.png We know who has been hurt by this decades old cap – victims of medical negligence and the families of people who die because of medical mistakes. The prestigious Journal of Patient Safety estimates that 440,000 people die each year because of preventable medical mishaps, a figure also cited by the Journal of the American Medical Association. That’s a population the size of Atlanta – killed off each year by negligent health care providers. Only a very small fraction – estimated at less than 5% of medical malpractice victims or their families – receive any compensation for their injuries or loss.

San Fernando Valley drivers who have been involved in accidents, who are insured with AIG probably have little need to worry about their coverage. The comfort should also go to all Southern California drivers who were injured when hit by a driver insured with AIG.

With the government bail-out of the troubled insurance company by lending it $85 billion dollars, AIG policyholders, and those entitled to compensation due to the negligence of an AIG insured driver will be protected. At least for now, the company remains solvent. AIG will sell off assets to service this new loan, and it is expected to survive this disaster.Los_Angeles_Drivers_AIG.jpg

With a 52 week high of $70.13, AIG’s stock closed today at $2.05. Surely the company has a lot of rebuilding to do.

A Rhode Island Hospital has been fined for the 3rd instance this year of a doctor performing brain surgery in the wrong side of the patient’s head. Last Friday, a chief resident started operating on the wrong side of an 82-year-old patient. In August, a similar error caused the patient’s death.

These types of issues are not limited to Rhode Island as this issue is similar to battles we often face at Rice & Bloomfield. What is most frightening is that in Los Angeles, as in all of California, the most that could be recovered from litigation of this type of error is $250,000. From that amount must be paid litigation costs and attorneys fees. Because of that problem, many victims of medical malpractice often cannot find an attorney who will accept there case.

Los_Angeles_Juliani.jpgAlthough we are here to help people who have been injured, we must also make a living. We cannot continue to operate when faced with these type of limitations. This has become a common problem faced by injured patients throughout the state.

Last Thursday, the state slapped Health Net, Inc. with a $1 Million fine. Ironically, Health Net is our neighbor here in Woodlands Hills although our only connection with them is in representing insureds with claims against them.

The insurance company set goals for cancellation on policies and paid bonuses to employees based on how many policies the dropped and how much money that saved the company. The penalties help shed light on the way insurance companies work. While they spend millions of dollars on commercials to make people think their goal is to help, these types of incidents show how insurance companies really work. Unfortunately, trusting your insurance company may be a mistake.

insurance%20bad%20faith.gifThe fine came after the company mislead state investigators about bonuses paid to employees on more than one occasion. The fines resulted from the insurance company not be straight forward in response to the investigation. As we have found to be the case on many occasions with insurance companies, what they tell you they are going to do, does not always match what they actually do.

Many Southern California families suffered the horrifying loss of their homes in the recent Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego wild fires. Nearly 1,500 homes have been destroyed and hundreds more have been damaged. The process of adjusting homeowners’ claim will now begin with insurance companies working hard to limit how much they pay.

Insurance companies will be quick to pay for a coat of paint, but often will not do the necessary investigation to search for all of the damage a fire can cause. Especially where a home is left standing, smoke damage is often not detectable to the average person. While some people will simple settle with their insurance company for the damage which is easy to see, with the assistance of an attorney or other trained professional, a homeowner can obtain the comensation they are entiteled to receive.

Los_Angeles_Brush_Fire.jpgIt is estimated that the loss from the October fires will be about $1 billions dollars. While this may seem like a huge loss to the insurance industry, when compared to the $450 billion in policy sales last year, and the record $65 billion in profits, the loss if fairly minimal.

We all pay for it – for our lives, health, home and automobiles. If we add it all up, paying for insurance takes a huge bite out of our earnings and every year that bite seems to be getting bigger while the benefits of coverage are shrinking. It isn’t your imagination. The insurance industry is racking up record profits and paying less in claims.

Recently, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) accused the country’s largest insurers of “gouging” the public on their way to an estimated combined after-tax profit of nearly $60 billion in 2006, up from a record in 2005 of $48.8 billion, which shattered the 2004 record of $40.5 billion. Meanwhile, the amount of premiums being paid out to insureds for claims has dropped from about 75% in the late 1980’s to 60%.

To add insult to injury, the federal government has subsidized the insurance industry to the tune of about $7 billion under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. The CFA is urging Congress to let the Act expire at the end of this year.