First-party Property Insurance Coverage Policies And Your Business

Posted on : June 27, 2016

Picture it: you drive to work, only to discover that your thriving business has suddenly disappeared – into a sinkhole. What is the first thing you do? Call your insurance broker of course. Having appropriate insurance is part and parcel of owning a business. You expect that they will cover you in instances like this – property damage resulting from a natural disaster, business interruption, or builder’s risk. The last thing you can afford is any kind of delay; or worse, denial of claim.

One, two, three

When reading your insurance policy as a legal contract, “first party” is the term used for the insured. The “second party” refers to the insurance company, but it is an industry quirk that this term is seldom used. Anyone who is neither the insured nor the insurer is referred to as the “third party”.

So, for example, if one of your customers has a slip and fall on your premises, they would have a third party claim. However, if you have suffered a loss of your own property, your claim would be described as a first party claim.

Salt in the wound

If you have experienced some type of property loss, being paid out is top priority. There are often delays in decisions and action, unreasonable valuations, or coverage disputes.

A court case is a headache: expensive, and time-consuming. Ideally your insurance lawyer will aim to collect your insurance without the need to litigate. Insurance attorneys evaluate your situation, working towards a swift resolution.

Best practises

  • Be honest and give the correct information to the insurer.
  • Fill in the claim form yourself rather assigning it to a staff member.
  • Draw a line across any space left after filling in the form.
  • Scan a copy of the documents
  • Read all the terms and conditions in fine detail.
  • Conduct thorough research before selecting an insurance company.
  • Don’t decide in haste. Do ask for clarification.
  • Tackle the paperwork – time delays can cause a claim rejection.

To find a business attorney in Washington, DC, please contact us today.

Your Business Is Being Sued – Here’s What To Do

Posted on : June 20, 2016

Do you ever wake up in a cold sweat, having dreamt that your business is being sued? Despite your best intentions, accidents happen and misunderstandings occur; and before you know it, a disagreement has morphed into a legal claim – nightmares are made of this.

Being sued leads to tension and stress, not to mention the demands on your time and money. However, with the counsel of a commercial law firm, it need not mean the end of the world – or less dramatically, the ruin of your business.

Step-by-step

  1. Act quickly. Strictly follow the legal requirements, including deadlines. Failure to do so may give the claimant a way to obtain a default judgment against you.
  2. Speak to a lawyer, not the person suing you. A director can appear for the company, unless directors have been named separately as defendants, in which case a commercial lawyer will advise whether you will need individual attorneys. Do not admit anything before consulting a lawyer.
  3. Choose a strategy:

3.1 Even if you believe the plaintiff has a flimsy case, it may make sense to settle, both financially and timewise. A compromise offer can prevent both parties from risking time and money proceeding with a court case.

3.2 If you are at fault, it is generally best to consult with interested parties (like your insurers), acknowledge your liability, and then pay the amount in full, or negotiate to make payment in instalments. If you go this route, state at the very beginning of any correspondence that the negotiations are being done without prejudice. Accepting liability and counter-claiming is another possibility.

3.3 Defend the claim only if you have solid legal reasons for doing so. Be careful to defend just the charges which are included in the claim – and nothing more. When describing your version of what happened include as much documented evidence as possible. To avoid unnecessary costs, work with your lawyers to reach agreement with the claimant on as much evidence as possible before the trial starts.

To find an attorney in Fairfax, VA, please contact us today.

What Does A Non-Compete Really Mean?

Posted on : June 13, 2016

Did you know that the recipe for Coca Cola is, in fact, not patented, but a trade secret?

It’s a secret

The difference between the two is that a patent is publicly recognized and registered with the government, while a trade secret is not. The business world’s equivalent of classified documents, a trade secret must consist of information, e.g. technical information and business information. These practices or processes of a company are generally not known outside of the company, but have an intrinsic economic value. Finally, judicious efforts, guided by a business attorney, must have been made to retain its secrecy. Merely wanting or intending to keep information a secret is not acceptable.

Trade secrets can be easy to steal and exploit, so why did Coca Cola choose that over a patent then?

A patent has a limited life of fourteen to twenty years. Once the patent expires, the information it protected must be publicly disclosed, and is then free for anyone to replicate.

Can you keep a secret?

Imagine knowing exactly how your competitors make that indestructible item, manage their cash flow, or access the top clients. Gaining such competitive advantage sounds great until you put the shoe on the other foot. Now imagine that one of your employees is fired, and in a disgruntled rage shares confidential information about your trade secrets or sensitive information upon working for a competitor or starting his or her own business.

Precaution

To safeguard them, you need all your personnel that are privy to the data to sign non-compete agreement. To avoid a non-compete agreement dispute a la Kai-Fu Lee and Microsoft, it is a good idea to hire a business law attorney to draw up a water-tight contract.

To find an attorney in Arlington, VA to safeguard your trade secrets, please contact us today for more information.

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