Recent Cases

Some Recent Case Results for Viau & Kwasniewski Los Angeles California Insurance & Personal Injury Lawyers

Eight Figure Settlement – Catastrophic Industrial Injury Case

This firm recently won an eight-figure settlement on behalf of our severely injured client. Our client was severely injured after he contacted a high-powered electric transmission line while he was working on the line. He was nearly killed. He underwent over fifty surgeries to save his life and limbs. The case was heavily litigated over a three-year period. Our client showed tremendous courage, strength, and determination to recover as much as possible from his horrific injuries. It was a privilege to work for him and to obtain a great result for him. The case settled on the Friday before the following Monday when the trial was to begin. There were over one hundred depositions, twenty-five experts, hundreds of thousands of records and technical records and complicated issues of technology and law involved. The case settlement terms are confidential at the defendant’s request. This firm paid a seven-figure referral fee to the referring attorneys.

Seven Figure Settlement in a First Party Homeowner Case

Fire losses often have an element of water damage, given that water typically is used in the fire suppression process. In the early morning hours, a fire broke out in the insured home’s furnace. Fortunately, the family became aware of the fire, and was able to evacuate safely. The fire department deluged the home with water, to extinguish the fire.

The insured promptly notified the insurance company, which in turn dispatched an adjuster to the scene. Despite the pervasiveness of water and water damage, the adjuster never informed the insured homeowner that he should dry out the home, extract the water, or be concerned about the possible long term, damaging effects of the water – which include the formation of harmful mold.

In addition, the adjuster unreasonably undervalued the cost to repair the insureds home. The adjuster misinformed the insured that the carrier’s unreasonably low repair valuation was supported and corroborated by an independent general contractor, when in fact this third party was not independent.

The fire department personnel suggested to the insured that he retain the services of a Public Adjuster. Although the insureds Public Adjuster valiantly tried, he was unable to convince the insurance carrier adjuster to provide a reasonable repair scope and estimate, or to work with the insured’s own contractor of choice. The insured had no alternative but to retain the services of Viau & Kwasniewski.

The case was hard fought. Extensive written discovery was involved. Expert witnesses were retained and deposed. Many percipient witness depositions were taken. The carrier filed a Motion to throw out the insureds case. Viau & Kwasniewski vigorously opposed that Motion, and the carrier lost. On the eve of trial, of the trial documents, Exhibits, and most of the insured’s witnesses had been prepared, the insurance company accepted the insureds settlement demand of $1.5 million and agreed to settle the case in that amount without conditions.

If you suffer a loss to your home, and you are unsatisfied with how your insurance company is treating you, there may be a saving grace solution.  Give us a call.

Successful Result for the Business Owner
Insured in United States District Court

We successfully litigated an insurance bad faith case in the United States District Court, Central District. The case was filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, and the carrier removed the action to federal court.

The insureds were a downtown Los Angeles men’s clothing business, and a husband and wife who jointly owned the business. A fire erupted in the warehouse where the clothing was stored, causing widespread damage. As with fire losses generally, the water used to extinguish the fire caused extensive damage, as well.

The insurance company hired a loss valuation company to determine the loss. However, the loss valuation company undervalued the extent, nature, and value of the lost garment inventory. In an attempt to establish that the low numbers were correct, the carrier hired a so-called garment expert to evaluate the loss.  The insureds believed that these numbers were unreasonably low, as well.

We became involved. As part of our investigation, we visited the site of the loss, in the downtown Los Angeles garment district. It was apparent that mold was present. Between the fire itself, the fire department’s extinguishing activities, and the carrier’s manipulation of the damaged garments to ascertain the extent of loss, the loss scene was in relative chaos. Part of the job before the Viau & Kwasniewski lawyers involved organizing the damaged garments, and having experts determine the nature, extent, and value of the loss.

A significant aspect to the success achieved in this case involved determining the type of experts needed. Perseverance, and hands-on, “roll up the sleeves” investigation and analysis contributed to the successful result, as well.

We timely filed and served all trial documents. During in-chamber proceedings, with the client/insured present, the complimented the trial documents we prepared, including the comprehensive Memorandum of Contentions of Law and Fact, and stated that our trial documents could serve as “models” for lawyers in federal court civil litigation.

The parties were ready for trial. The judge ruled on the parties’ pre-trail motions, primarily in favor of our client, the insured. The insurance carrier’s trial trifurcation request was denied. The insurance carrier’s subsequent trial bifurcation request was denied. The insurance carrier’s pre-trial Motion, which argued that the individual plaintiff/owner of the business was not an insured, was denied. The judge’s rulings were appropriate and consistent with the law. The insurance carrier’s positions simply were inherently insupportable and implausible.

The documents we presented gave us and our client credibility with the judge. Given the insupportable positions taken by the carrier, and after multiple in-chambers negotiations, this federal district court judge was able to facilitate an excellent settlement. At the carrier’s request, the settlement amount is confidential.

Defective Cancellation by the Carrier
Resulted in Coverage for the Insured

We obtained a successful result on behalf of husband-and-wife insureds in a case involving automobile insurance, and the carrier’s defective notice of cancellation.

The husband-and-wife insureds owed a premium payment on a specified date. The insured wife made out the check and sent in the premium payment before the due date. For whatever reason, the carrier purportedly never received this premium payment.

The insurance company then forwarded a notice of cancellation unless it received a double premium payment. The insureds immediately forwarded that double premium payment. The claim file revealed that processing errors at the insurance company, and a long holiday weekend, resulted in the carrier’s failure to post this premium payment until after the due date.

After the insureds sent in this premium payment, but before the carrier posted the payment because of its own processing delays, the insureds suffered an accident. The insureds notified the carrier of the accident. Even with the late-posted premium in hand, the insurance company contended that the policy had been cancelled due to non-payment of premium.

Our clients presented their complaint to the California Department of Insurance. The Department believed that the carrier had improperly cancelled the insureds’ policy and notified the insurance company of that fact. The Department of Insurance directed the insurance company to pay the insureds’ claim. The carrier refused; the insureds contacted Viau & Kwasniewski.

Litigation ensued, with the carrier contending that regardless of the Department of Insurance decree, and the facts surrounding the improper cancellation, the carrier owed no obligation to pay the insureds’ property loss, or the loss caused to the third-party driver. The carrier filed a Motion for Summary Judgment/Adjudication arguing that: (a) the carrier did not breach the insurance contract; (b) even if there was breach there was no “bad faith;” and (c) there was no evidence of punitive damage entitlement by the insureds.

We filed a comprehensive Opposition to the Motion. The Court denied the insurance company’s Motion in its entirety. The parties prepared for trial. On the eve of trial, the matter was set for a Mandatory Settlement Conference. We were able to obtain an excellent result for our clients, the insureds.

Success in an Insurance Broker Negligence Case
With Optimization of Damages

We recently resolved an insurance broker negligence case on behalf of an insured and her son. The husband/father insured had passed away due to the denial of coverage by the carrier, which arose out of the broker’s failure to obtain coverage specifically requested.

The husband/father insured, and his wife/insured contacted a broker they learned of through the internet, who purported to be a specialist in vehicle coverage, including commercial trucker policies. The husband/wife ran a family trucking business and needed coverage for their truck/tractor used in that business. Given that they owned the truck/tractor outright, it was important to the insureds that they obtain theft coverage.

The husband/wife insureds informed the broker that they required first party theft coverage for the truck/tractor, which was vital to the insureds’ family trucking business. The broker reassured the insureds that they had purchased, and would receive, the theft coverage for the truck/tractor. The broker obtained a policy; however, that policy did not include the requested theft coverage – which the broker did not notice. The insureds received their policy but did not read the policy, based upon the broker’s assurances that they had purchased theft coverage.

Approximately six months later, the truck/tractor was stolen. The insureds made a claim with the insurance company. The insurance carrier denied that claim, on the grounds that the husband and wife, our clients, had not obtained theft coverage for the truck/tractor.

The insureds were unable to operate their family trucking business with the loss of the truck/tractor. They could not afford another rig. Due to the stress of the absence of coverage for the truck/tractor, and his consequent inability to provide for his family, tragically, the husband passed away. The husband suffered a myriad of conditions which fatally contributed to the stresses of the loss.

The wife and surviving son contacted us and asked for our help. We immediately stepped in and helped the family in their time of need. Litigation ensued. Almost immediately after filing the Complaint, we took the depositions of, among others, the broker involved in the transaction. Documents from the carrier and the carrier’s own agent were subpoenaed. Based upon the evidence, and because it was immediately sought and obtained, it was apparent that: (a) the insureds had requested the theft coverage; (b) the broker had reassured the insureds that they had theft coverage; and (c) the binder for the insurance which the broker received made it clear that the policy did not provide the requested theft coverage.

Through private Mediation, the case was resolved. The key to a successful result in the case for the mother and son was our effective presentation of the damages the family could recover.

When insureds suffer a loss, they are often at their most vulnerable. The insurance company’s denial of their claim, or broker/agent negligence contributing to that denial, may be the last “straw” that results in an insured’s complete break down, suffering, and even stroke or death. Even unforeseeable damage and harm may be compensated for in a bad faith case. If you or a loved one have suffered because of, or been harmed by, carrier misconduct or denial of a claim, contact us. We opened our doors to help insureds.

$1.8 Million Settlement in a Personal Injury Case

In a confidential and highly sensitive case, because of the claims and damages involved, Viau & Kwasniewski recently settled a serious personal injury case for $1.8 Million.

Genuine concern for the client, and sensitivity to the issues involved, resulted in a successful result. The matter was highly personal and sensitive so we cannot discuss the details.

If you have suffered a serious personal injury and have been significantly harmed by the wrongful acts or omissions of another, do not hesitate to contact Viau & Kwasniewski.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist
And Med Pay Bad Faith Case Successfully Resolved

We handled and successfully resolved a first party bad faith case arising out of an Underinsured Motorist claim.

The insured in this case was severely injured in a multiple roll-over auto accident. The at fault driver’s liability carrier quickly and expediently settled the claim. The insured also had Underinsured Motorist coverage, as well as significant Med Pay coverages. The insured’s own first party carrier engaged in extensive delay in resolving the Underinsured Motorist and Med Pay claims.

The insured finally was able to obtain a resolution, after years of waiting, pursuant to the Underinsured Motorist and Med Pay coverages. However, her lawyer contacted us on the belief that the insured had a valid bad faith lawsuit against her first party carrier because of the inordinate delay. That lawyer was right, and we successfully handled the bad faith claim. The insured felt vindicated and gratified. Her lawyer, who handled the underlying lawsuit, was relieved, too, that his client obtained the justice she deserved.

If you are a lawyer who is handling a UM/UIM or Med Pay claim on behalf of your client/insured, and you believe that the carrier has engaged in improper conduct or unreasonable delay, contact us. We pay referral fees pursuant to the California Code of Professional Responsibility and the California State Bar.

Seven Figure Settlement of a Homeowner’s Claim
Involving Catastrophic Property Damage
And Personal Property Loss Resulting From
A Wind-Damaged Roof & Subsequent Rains

We recently helped a homeowner and his family who were at their wit’s end when their homeowner insurance company refused to pay for all the property damage their home suffered in heavy rains. Winds also had blown the roof off the home, and the subsequent rains caused extensive damage to the home’s interior and all the insureds’ personal property. The insurance company delayed payment on the damaged real property home and refused to cover the personal property loss. The insurance company undervalued the insureds’ losses. The insureds were not able to live in their home and when they contacted Viau & Kwasniewski, they had been out of their home for almost 8 months. Viau & Kwasniewski were able to get their home repaired and obtained coverage for the insureds’ personal property loss. The distress the insured suffered was so severe, he suffered a stroke. Viau & Kwasniewski were able to force the insurance company to pay for all the emotional distress damage the family suffered, as well as for the damages resulting from the named insureds’ stroke. A successful seven figure outcome with an insurance company – particularly when a family home, or business is involved, can change one’s life. Do not allow the insurance company to take advantage of you and your family. You have the right to fight the insurance company when they treat you unfairly and unreasonably.

Call us for help at (213) 842-8164 or complete our online Contact Us Form.

Insurance Bad Faith Settlement Under an Auto Policy
Where the Insurance Company Failed to Comply
With Statutory Cancellation Notice Provisions

The insurance company denied coverage for an insured, taking the position that his policy had been cancelled on the date of the insureds’ automobile accident. The insurance company’s cancellation notice provisions did not comply with the California Insurance Code. An insurance company cannot inform the insured that it will cancel its policy for non-payment of premium, prior to the date the premium is due, without further and additional notice to the insured. The insured contacted the Department of Insurance, which could not force the insurance company to pay the claim. The insured contacted Viau & Kwasniewski. Because the insured was over the age of seventy, and was infirm, we obtained an early trial date. The deposition of the lawyer who had counselled the insurance company regarding its cancellation provisions was taken. After that deposition, we obtained an excellent result for our client, the insured. The details of the settlement amount are confidential at the insurance company’s request.

Insurance Bad Faith Confidential Settlement
Involving CCC Valuation Services in A First Party Automobile Case

Viau & Kwasniewski insurance attorneys settled an insurance bad faith case, one of several the firm has handled and is handling, involving the Vehicle Valuation services of CCC Information Services, Inc. The litigation was hard fought. The insurance company requested that the settlement be confidential. First party insureds – insureds who have claims under their own automobile policies – often have recourse against their own insurance companies. This is particularly true when the insurance company does not offer enough to cover the insureds’ property damage loss – the damage to their own vehicle because of an accident. Insureds have recourse even when the actual cash value of the claim, meaning the amount of their loss, is low. Insureds should not simply give up and let their own insurance companies cheat them out of money that the insureds are owed.

ERISA Claim Under a Los Angeles Employee Disability Policy
Viau & Kwasniewski’s Pro Bono Work to Help Insureds

We have experience involving ERISA issues, on both the defense and plaintiff sides, including in the Court of Appeal. We recently helped a former Los Angeles City Employee insured obtain disability coverage under a policy governed by ERISA. The case was fought in Federal Court. Viau & Kwasniewski are committed to helping insureds and took the case on a pro bono basis. The disability carrier requested that the settlement be confidential.

Insurance Company’s Payment of Contractual Damages
Under Wrongful Cancellation of An Auto Policy

Our Los Angeles insurance attorneys recently forced an insurance company – while the bad faith litigation was pending – to pay the insured the contractual damages the company owed under an automobile policy it had wrongfully cancelled. The insured had paid his premium before the cancellation. Insureds often do not know that there are very strict statutory requirements insurance companies must follow in order to cancel insurance policies – such as for non-payment of premium. Just because your insurance company informed you that you would not be provided with coverage because you failed to pay your premium on time – this does not necessarily mean you should give up! Call us at (213) 842-8164 or complete our online Contact Us Form, we can help.

Insurance Company Appraisal Process May Be Invoked in Bad Faith and To Cause Delay; Viau & Kwasniewski Recently Used the Carrier’s Own Invocation of The Process to The Insureds Advantage Under a Homeowner Policy

In a first party homeowner case involving catastrophic loss to a family home, the insurance company wrongfully delayed and undervalued the insureds’ property loss. We were able to maximize the insureds’ contractual damages represented as loss to the home. Insurance companies often invoke the appraisal provision in many first party policies, including homeowner and auto policies, in an attempt to coerce insureds, and delay payment on a claim.  Contact us.

Seven Figure Settlement in An Insurance Bad Faith Case
For A Small Business Owner

We recently settled an insurance bad faith case involving a first party claim where the contractual amount at issue was in the tens of thousands of dollars. After very hard-fought litigation, the case was settled in excess of $1 million. The details of the settlement are confidential at the insurance company’s request. Insureds often do not even realize that they have recourse against the insurance carrier when the carrier denies coverage under an insurance policy. Contact us.

Seven Figure Settlement in An Insurance Bad Faith Case
For an Independent Trucker/Owner Operator
Involving a $26,000 Cargo Theft Claim

We recently represented an independent trucker/owner operator who had $26,000 in cargo stolen from his tractor/trailer. The insurance company refused to pay the trucker/owner operator’s loss, and then refused to defend the trucker/owner operator in the third-party litigation filed by the owner of the cargo. We obtained a finding of coverage for the insured independent trucker/owner operator, and the insurance company was required to pay contract damages, as well as significant extra-contractual damages. The independent trucker/owner operator initially thought he would just have to absorb the loss, believing that he could not afford to hire lawyers to fight for him. His daughter insisted that he fight the insurance company’s wrongful denial, and she found the law firm of Viau & Kwasniewski. The independent trucker/owner operator had no idea that he was entitled to all his losses resulting from the insurance company’s wrongful refusal to pay. The independent trucker/owner operator was even entitled to compensation for losing his trucking business because the insurance company refused to pay his covered claim. Contact us at (213) 842-8164.

Obtained Judgment on the Duty to Defend for an Independent Trucker

We recently represented an independent trucker whose cargo shipment he was hauling was stolen through no fault of his. He tendered a claim for the stolen cargo to his motor cargo insurance carrier. The carrier denied him coverage. This law firm filed a lawsuit on behalf of the independent trucker, and obtained a judgment that there was insurance coverage. The court also determined that the insurance carrier’s interpretation of the insurance policy provided nothing but illusory coverage. We later settled the entire case including the bad faith claim favorably for the owner/operator. The insurance company requested that the amount of the settlement remain confidential. If you have been denied insurance coverage on an insurance policy give us a call at (213) 842-8164 or complete our online Contact Us Form. We can analyze the policy and advise you of your options.

Settlement of an Insurance Bad Faith Case on Behalf of a Small Business

We recently litigated a case for a small business owner/insured who was sued by a former employee in an underlying lawsuit for wrongful termination. The business owner/insured tendered the underlying lawsuit to his insurance company. The insurance company refused to defend and indemnify him and his business. This law firm sued the insurance company for breach of contract and for bad faith. It was determined that the insurance company owed a duty to defend and to indemnify the business owner/insured. The case recently settled. The insurance company requested that the settlement amount remain confidential. If you have been sued, give us a call at (213) 842-8164 or complete our online Contact Us Form. We can help with insurance issues and can analyze your best options.

Settlement On Behalf of a Tenured Teacher Alleging
Employment/Disability Discrimination and Toxic Tort

We resolved a difficult and complex case on behalf of a tenured teacher who alleged that she was subjected to employment harassment, and discrimination based upon her occupationally induced disability. The case involved toxic tort, indoor air contamination, and Proposition 65 issues. The defendants requested that the settlement amount remain confidential.

Obtained Judgment on the Duty to Defend: The Employment-Related Practices Exclusion

In a case venued in Orange County Superior Court, the law offices of Viau & Kwasniewski were recently successful on a Motion for Summary Adjudication regarding the duty to defend our business client insured in an underlying action involving alleged Government Code sections 12900, et seq. violations, and claims of workplace harassment. The underlying action triggered coverage under the business owner insureds’ personal injury coverage of his Commercial General Liability policy.

Two carriers denied that they owed the insured a duty to defend him and his business in the underlying action based on the Employment-Related Practices Exclusion in the insureds’ successive Commercial General Liability policies. The carriers filed Motions for Summary Judgment; our office filed a Motion for Summary Adjudication on the duty to defend, on behalf of the business owner insured. The Court denied the insurance carriers’ Motions for Summary Judgment. The Court granted our Motion for Summary Adjudication finding that the insurance carriers owed the insured a defense. Based on our Motion, the carriers have been ordered to pay our client all defense fees and costs he incurred in defending himself and his business in the underlying action.

If you are a small business owner, and have had coverage denied under an insurance policy, you may have recourse. Give our offices a call at (213) 842-8164 or complete our online Contact Us Form.

Settlement of a Bad Faith Lawsuit on the Second Day of Trial

A general liability insurance carrier refused to defend and indemnify its small business insured. The matter proceeded to trial and settled on the second day for an amount the insurance company requested remain confidential.

HMO Case (Confidential Settlement)

The Los Angeles insurance lawyers of Viau & Kwasniewski recently settled a case for an insured small business owner who was denied medical benefits from an HMO. The insured suffered from a heart attack and had accrued over $100,000 in medical bills. The HMO denied coverage contending that the insured had failed to pay the proper premium (dues) amount. The insured had been paying the proper premium amount based on a subscriber change form that had been submitted by the insureds’ broker but had not been processed by the HMO. The insured sent documentation to the HMO indicating that proper premiums had been paid. The HMO manager involved, appeared to ignore the documentation, and did not check the HMO’s own files, which corroborated the insureds’ contention that proper premiums had been paid. The insured lost his business and home because of the HMO’s refusal to pay his medical bills.

The insured had consulted other lawyers before contacting this law firm and had been advised that he had no recourse. Upon review of the facts of the case and the policy language, we agreed to take the case.

After we filed a lawsuit on behalf of the insured, and substantial written discovery had been served on the HMO, the HMO admitted that it made a mistake, but took the position that there was no bad faith. The HMO initially agreed to pay all outstanding medical bills to cut off claims for continuing attorney fees. Extensive litigation followed, in which we took a number of depositions including HMO management personnel. The parties subsequently agreed to mediation, and the case settled shortly thereafter. The HMO requested that the settlement amount remain confidential.

Armored Car Cases

The principal lawyers of Los Angeles law firm Viau & Kwasniewski litigated an armored car and premises liability case while of counsel to and with another law firm. The plaintiffs in that case were the surviving mother and the surviving son of the decedent armored car courier. The armored car courier was killed while making a pickup at a bank. The attorneys for the defendant premises owner filed four Motions for Summary Judgment at various stages during the litigation; we defeated all four Motions. The case settled on the first day of trial; defendants requested that the settlement amount remain confidential.

The law firm of Viau & Kwasniewski recently settled a wrongful death case involving an innocent bystander who was killed during an armored car robbery and shoot-out. The defendants requested that the settlement amount remain confidential. This law firm also represented, as co-counsel with another law firm, a bystander patron who also sustained serious injuries during that shooting.

Contact us at 213-842-8164.

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