Things You Must Know When Filing Personal Injury Claims on Behalf of Minors

Personal Injury Claims for Minors in Los Angeles

As parents, you carry the responsibility of providing for a good life for your children. As parents, you carry the responsibility of providing a good life for your children. Apart from finding gainful employment or other sources of regular income, you might have also sought out life insurance plans that can pay for your medical expenses in case you get sick, or give your children a substantial payout upon your death.

It would be your children who’ll be talking to our Los Angeles life insurance lawyers many years down the road in an ideal world. They’ll take charge of claiming life insurance benefits on your behalf, like care services during your senior years. Unexpected events can happen, however. Instead of your grown children talking to your insurers about life insurance benefits, you might have to meet up with personal injury attorneys to seek compensation for an accident involving your child.

Act as the Guardian Ad Litem

In California, minors do not have the legal capacity to sign or enter into a contract until they turn 18 years old. The court also treats child injury claims and cases differently from those involving adults. Through the eyes of the law, minors cannot independently decide settlements, defend themselves from older and wiser people who may take advantage of them, and speak for themselves in court.

For personal injury cases involving minors, the courts appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) who’s expected to act with the minor’s best interests in mind. The GAL can be a parent or adult relative of the child, and must not be directly involved in the lawsuit. The GAL also won’t have legal rights to the financial settlements or reparations that the child is meant to receive.

Compromise Hearing

If you want to avoid the cost and stress of a lawsuit, you can try to settle with the insurers at a compromise hearing.

Parents, guardians, or the appointed GAL must file a settlement agreement to petition the court to approve a minor’s compromise (only the GAL can file this petition if a class action or lawsuit has been filed). The state mandates that a California court approves all settlements made on behalf of a minor, including for personal injury.

If all parties have agreed on the settlement terms, you may sign the papers on behalf of your child. Again, the law doesn’t allow minors to sign legally binding agreements.

The following conditions for the signatories also apply:

  • Either parent may sign a settlement on behalf of a minor child if both live with the child.
  • In the case of separated parents, only the custodial parent may sign the settlement agreement.
  • A legal guardian or GAL may also sign on the minor’s behalf.

If the child has a legal guardian of the estate, they may petition the court to transfer the settlement funds to the child’s trust via a custodian, trustee, or a trusted financial institution.

Receipt of the Settlement

The law only allows the transfer of the settlement funds when the minor turns 21 years old. The California Probate Court typically enables parents and guardians to manage settlements that are less than $5,000. If the settlement is significantly substantial, however, the court could order that the mount be given in structured payments that the child will receive at a specific age (e.g., the first payout at 21, second payout at 25, third payout at 30).

What if your child needs medical treatment now? You may request that the court issue an order to release the funds necessary for treatment and recovery.

Statute of Limitations for Class Actions

The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in California is two years. For minors, the two-year limit starts after they turn 18. This extension is meant to give young people the chance to press charges against people who’ve harmed them in the past, and file claims for personal injuries they sustained as minors.

Given the nature of personal injuries and the importance of accurate medical data and police reports, it’s crucial for personal injury claims and lawsuits involving minors to be filed as soon as possible. Don’t wait for the statute of limitations to nearly expire before acting. You could lose any credible evidence by then.

If you’re looking for capable and fearless personal injury attorneys to handle insurance claims or class actions for your child, Haffner Law is here for you.

Call us at 213-514-5681 and talk to our attorneys today.

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What Do You Do if an Insurance Company Contests Your Claim?

Life Insurance Claim Lawyer Los Angeles

Insurance companies have a right to question, delay, or deny your life insurance claim. Normally, the beneficiaries will receive the payout several weeks following the death of the policyholder. But the insurance company has many reasons to hold or refuse the release of your insurance benefits.

In such a scenario, it’s best to have the legal advice of an experienced life insurance lawyer. They’ll help you defend your claim and make sure that you receive a fair settlement.

Below are the most common circumstances where a lawyer can help you with a contested life insurance claim.

  1. The policy holder died during the contestability period

 Most insurance providers set a contestability period when activating a new policy. Under California law, this period lasts two years, starting from the day of the first payment. This clause gives the insurer the right to investigate the death of the policyholder if it occurred anytime during the contestability period. The insurance company will check if you withheld or misstated any relevant information that may have influenced the death.

One example is if the policyholder failed to indicate that they’re a heavy drinker, then died of liver damage several months following the insurance application. The insurance company can cancel the policy due to insurance fraud.

Insurance misstatements are subjective, which means you have the opportunity to defend your insurance claim. Plus, misstatements should be material. Their nature should be grave enough for the insurer to terminate or alter the insurance agreement. A life insurance lawyer will help you negotiate or fight for your settlement by backing up your claim with the appropriate documents and information.

  1. The policy has lapsed before the policyholder died

 Missed and incomplete payments are common reasons insurance providers refuse to pay out the death benefit. All life insurance policies require a steady payment of premiums to remain active. Otherwise, they’ll lapse. This invalidates your entire claim, even if the policyholder has made payments prior to it lapsing.

However, a missed payment doesn’t automatically deny you of your benefits. The chances of getting a death benefit are higher if the death occurred within 30 days of the policy lapsing.

Your insurance attorney can also investigate if the insurer is in any way responsible for your failure to reinstate your policy. Many states require insurance companies to notify clients before and after they cancel a policy, giving you an opportunity to renew it. If you prove that the insurance company failed to send the necessary notices, you may get the chance to recover the policy.

  1. The death involves unusual circumstances

Many life insurance companies refuse to cover deaths that involve unusual circumstances, such as suicide, homicide, or if the beneficiary is a suspect. Almost every insurance policy involves a clause that exempts coverage for applicants who committed suicide. Some also refuse to pay benefits to policyholders who were intoxicated at the time of their death.

A life insurance attorney will assist you in proving that you’re not complicit to the policyholder’s demise, if ever the case is established as a homicide. A lawyer can also help disprove that the death is due to suicide if necessary.

Defending a contested life insurance claim can get complicated, potentially involving a legal process. This is why you’ll need the experience of a capable attorney who has handled similar cases.

A Capable Lawyer on Your Side

 Our Los Angeles life insurance lawyers will work with you to determine exactly what was wrong with your claim to file a successful appeal. We’ll review your policy together to ensure that your claim falls in line with what you’re owed. Haffner Lawyers will build your claim, support it with strong, concrete evidence, to get you the settlement you deserve.

Contact us at 1-844-HAFFNER (423-3637) to schedule a consultation today.

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Material Misrepresentation and the Risk of Insurance Claim Denial

Life Insurance Claim Denial Los Angeles Lawyer

Voluminous paperwork, hours spent going over the different types of policies, and endless meetings with your insurance agent—sometimes, working with insurance companies can be stressful.

Like any other business insurance companies must also do what they can to turn a profit. And sometimes, the way they do this is by making it difficult for the beneficiaries of policyholders to successfully file for a claim, or by denying insurance claims, outright.

However, an insurance provider cannot legally deny an insurance claim for no reason. And often enough, it is the policyholder’s fault that leads to the denial of an insurance claim. When you fail to supply accurate information during the insurance application process, for instance, your insurance provider may discover it and deny your claim on the grounds of material misrepresentation.

What is Material Misrepresentation?

During the insurance application process, the insurance company will ask you questions about yourself and your lifestyle. The questions range from the typical name, age, and birth date to your family’s medical history.

Cases of heart disease and cancer within your family, as well as your history of alcohol and tobacco use, are all health-related information that affects your insurance rates. If your family has a history of hereditary disease, for example, you may have to pay higher premiums because you have a higher possibility of succumbing to those diseases than an applicant who has a better family medical history.

This fact might push some applicants not to disclose their real family medical history. Some omit previous cases of hospitalization or outright lie about family members having hereditary diseases just so they could avoid paying higher premiums. This is called material misrepresentation.

However, it is advisable that you disclose only accurate information during the application process. When you have been approved of a life insurance policy, your policy will enter into a two-year contestability period in the state of California. This means that for two years after you paid your first premium, your insurance provider will be investigating the truthfulness of the information you provided. If they obtain proof that contradicts what you said, your policy might be forfeited.

Keep in mind, though, that minor mistakes, such as the street name on your address or your surname, will not be deemed as material misrepresentation. It is only “material” if the inaccurate information you provided is important enough that, had the insurer known about it from the outset, it would have resulted in a fundamentally different insurance policy, with different premiums.

In addition, some insurance providers may still approve insurance claims despite cases of material misrepresentation. However, you should not count on this. Always ensure that the information you provide when you apply for a life insurance policy is correct and factual, to avoid complications down the road.

What Do You Do If Your Insurance Claim Gets Denied Due to Misrepresentation?

Enlisting the help of a qualified life insurance attorney is the best move you can make if your insurance provider in Los Angeles denies your claim based on material misrepresentation. At Haffner Law, our insurance lawyers can give you legal assistance, especially if you have been wrongfully denied an insurance claim. With our help, you can have your life insurance policy restored and be compensated for other damages.

Get in touch with us today. Contact 1-844-HAFFNER for a free consultation.

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Life Insurance 101: Understanding the Contestability Period

life insurance lawyer los angeles

A life insurance policy is a worthwhile investment, as it provides the beneficiaries a financial safety net after the policyholder passes away.

However, there may be instances when a beneficiary files for a claim on a life insurance policy, only to be denied by the insurance carrier. There are many reasons for an insurance company to deny a claim, something which usually takes place during the contestability period.

Contestability Period Explained

Simply put, the life insurance contestability is the window during which an insurance company can look into and deny a claim after a policyholder’s demise.  This period is, in most states, typically set at 24 months starting from the moment the first policy payment is made. This means that should the policyholder pass away soon after he or she started paying for the premiums, the insurance company has the right to delay payouts to the beneficiary until investigations are complete.

In this period, which lasts for two years under California law, your insurance provider will investigate the claim for your policy and can dispute it if they find that you withheld relevant information or misdeclared important matters, like medical conditions, during your application.

Vital information, such as pre-existing medical conditions, affects the price of your premiums as well as the benefits payout your beneficiary will receive. That is why your insurance company must have accurate information from you so they can provide the right policy and premium, from the start.

Why the Contestability Period Exists

Sometimes, people fail to provide or they withhold accurate information on their life insurance applications. Omissions or outright providing wrong information can mean better premium prices or policies that a policy applicant would otherwise not qualify for. Some people, though, make honest mistakes when applying for life insurance.
Because these mistakes can cost an insurance company more money in benefits payouts, they need to stringently screen for these errors during the contestability period and ensure that a policyholder provided the correct information, especially before making any payout to the beneficiary.  Insurance companies perform a thorough investigation or a reevaluation during the contestability period. Doing so protects them from with the possibility of paying out more than they would have, had the right information been provided at the onset of the policy application.


The Contestability Period and Your Death Benefit

Keep in mind that it is okay if your beneficiary files for an insurance claim after your passing and your policy is still in the contestability period.  Just because the insurance company is investigating the circumstances of your death and the information you provided on the policy doesn’t mean that they will reject the claim. As long as all the information you supplied during the application was accurate, your beneficiary should not have any problems with the insurance claim. As long as you supplied factual, accurate information and paid your premiums on time, your beneficiary will receive the full payout when it comes time to claim on your life insurance policy.


Get Life Insurance Claims Assistance

If you have any concerns or questions about your policy and your rights, don’t hesitate to talk to a life insurance lawyer. At Haffner Law, we provide assistance for policyholders in Los Angeles. If your claim gets denied and you need to appeal, our experienced attorneys will work with you tirelessly.

Call us at 1-844-HAFFNER (213-514-5681) now to arrange a no-obligation consultation.

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What You Need To Know About Contingent Beneficiaries for Life Insurance

life insurance lawyer los angeles

Like a will, a life insurance policyholder needs to keep documents updated to reflect changes in circumstance and to avoid problems with claims when the time comes. For the policyholder, the beneficiary designation requires checking to ensure those nominated are still legible and relevant.

When a primary beneficiary cannot or will not receive the insurance benefit, for whatever reason, secondary nominees become eligible to receive the payout. When filling out your beneficiary designation, you have the option to name contingent beneficiaries to accommodate this situation.

Read more to find out.

 What are contingent beneficiaries?

Contingent or secondary benefits are people, organizations or other entities identified by the policyholder as beneficiaries if the primary beneficiary refuses, cannot be located or is ineligible.

Minors can be named as contingent beneficiaries. However, they will need an appointed legal guardian who will receive and manage any payout until the child reaches 18 or 21, depending on state law. The policyholder can also extend the guardian’s management of the benefit until a later age.

 When can contingent beneficiaries receive the benefit?

Primary beneficiaries may become ineligible to claim life insurance benefits for many reasons. Out-of-date information, such as significant life changes of the primary beneficiary, including marriage, divorce or birth, can compromise their claim.

Another example is if the primary beneficiary is directly involved or is an accomplice to killing the policyholder to receive the benefit. Most insurance policies cover death by murder. This means beneficiaries still receive the insurance benefit if the policyholder was murdered, provided that they died after a two-year contestability period. However, if the primary beneficiary was directly involved or is an accomplice to the murder, then the insurance benefit will go to the contingent beneficiary.

 How many contingent beneficiaries can be assigned?

As with the number of primary beneficiaries, a policyholder can list multiple contingent beneficiaries. If the primary beneficiary does not receive policy payments, the named contingent beneficiaries will share the death benefit. Each recipient receives a percentage of the total sum as determined by the policyholder or the court.

A contingent beneficiary receives the death benefit as stipulated in the insurance policy for the primary beneficiary. For example, if the policyholder wanted the primary to receive a monthly sum for ten years, then the contingent beneficiary will receive it the same way.

 What to do for denied life insurance claims

Insurance providers may deny a claim for several reasons, including out-of-date beneficiary designations or if the contingent beneficiary is a minor.

If you have any concerns or find yourself denied what appears to be legally yours, seek a life insurance lawyer to assist you. The lawyer will review your policy, determine your eligibility and help you in your next steps.

Haffner Law is a trusted law firm in Los Angeles. We have helped countless people in their fight against wrongly denied insurance claims. If there is evidence that the death benefit of your partner or relative was wrongly denied, we can help you file a complaint.

Get a free consultation today. Call us at 1-844-HAFFNER (423-3637).

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