What Are the Most Common Causes of Staircase Slip and Fall Accidents?

February 17, 2021 Slip Trip and Fall

Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere. However, they are particularly common on staircases for a number of reasons. From

Male Worker Lying On Staircase After Slip And Fall Accident

Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere. However, they are particularly common on staircases for a number of reasons. From faulty construction to inadequate maintenance, there are many factors that could lead to a fall in a stairwell.

If you have fallen on a staircase, you could be entitled to monetary compensation. That does not mean building a winning injury claim will be easy. By seeking the guidance of a Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer, you can put yourself in the best position to recover compensation for your injuries.

Poor Lighting

One of the most common causes of a slip and fall on the stairs can have nothing to do with the stairs themselves. Dim or inadequate lighting could make it difficult for you to navigate down a staircase safely. Often, poor lighting combines with other dangerous hazards to increase the chances of a serious injury. Some people that already struggle with depth perception could find it especially challenging to navigate dimly-lit staircases.

Lack of Handrails

Handrails are some of the most basic safety features on staircases. Handrails provide an individual with an option for steadying themselves as they ascend or descend. They also allow a person something to grab onto if they lose their balance. The lack of handrails is dangerous, as it removes one of the primary safety features available.

Poor Maintenance

Some staircases are not inherently dangerous. Instead, they become hazardous over time due to poor maintenance. Poor maintenance can manifest itself in many ways. One of the most common examples involves the accumulation of dirt, trash, or water. Thorough and regular cleaning can remove many of the most common risk factors for falls on a stairway.

Poor maintenance could also refer to the condition of the stairs themselves. Missing or broken steps pose a serious risk of injury. The same is true for loose or broken handrails. The failure to keep a staircase in a safe condition is a common cause for an injury claim after a fall.

Inadequate Design

In some cases, the design of the stairwell itself is inherently flawed. Examples of this could include stairs that are too shallow, too tall, or a combination of both. The material used in a staircase could also play a role. If the builder relied on material that is naturally slippery, a fall could become more likely.

Seek Legal Counsel After a Fall on a Staircase

If you have suffered injuries in a fall in a staircase, it might not be immediately obvious what caused the accident. Your attorney can carefully review the facts of your case to develop a theory of liability for your claim.

In many cases, your attorney can uncover evidence establishing that the building owner failed to adequately maintain the stairway in a reasonably safe manner. Let the attorneys of Salamati Law review your case and advise you on your options. Call as soon as possible to schedule your free consultation.

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How COVID-19 May Impact Your Personal Injury Lawsuit

February 16, 2021 Personal Injury Lawsuits

Like most other aspects of our lives, personal injury lawsuits have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawyers, insurance companies,

Like most other aspects of our lives, personal injury lawsuits have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawyers, insurance companies, and courts have all had to adjust the way they operate, and some delays in the process may be inevitable. However, there is no reason to delay in reaching out to an attorney if you have been injured due to another person’s negligence, as personal injury cases are still moving forward, and the sooner you begin the process, the sooner you can obtain compensation for your losses. Furthermore, statutes of limitation (deadlines by which you much file an injury lawsuit) have not been suspended, so waiting to initiate your claim for damages could result in your having to forfeit your right to compensation.

The economic downturn and historic unemployment rates that have characterized the pandemic have had a definite impact on personal injury litigation. Traditionally, in times of financial hardship some people choose not to reach out to a personal injury lawyer because they are worried about the cost of attorney fees. This is an unnecessary concern, however, since most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning that plaintiffs pay no legal fees upfront and nothing out of pocket unless they recover money damages.

Additionally, insurance companies will try to take advantage of troubled financial times by being more aggressive in making low-ball settlement offers, believing that injury victims are so desperate for funds that they will jump at the first offer and be willing to accept less than their claim is truly worth. 

California personal injury lawyer Sean Salamati can help you navigate these and other challenges of personal injury litigation during COVID-19. Find out how much your injury case might be worth and what to expect on the road ahead during a free consultation. Meanwhile, here are some further ways that the pandemic is affecting personal injury cases.

Healthcare Might Be Put on Hold

Hospitals and doctors’ offices around the country are treating an unprecedented volume of patients. COVID-19 patients are skipping to the front of the line in some locations, delaying the treatment of non-critical care and rehabilitation appointments. It is important for you to follow your medical provider’s instructions, keep detailed notes about your own progress, and call in to a telehealth provider when needed. If you’re not able to receive follow-up appointments in a timely manner, it could take longer for you to reach “maximum medical improvement,” where we can get an accurate valuation of what your claim is worth.

You May Feel Greater Pressure to Settle

So many Americans are experiencing financial hardship now. As your medical bills pile up and you’re forced to take time off work, you may be in this camp of people. An attorney can work with you to find financial options you may have overlooked to help you get by while you wait for your personal injury settlement. Often, lawyers can put a temporary halt on communications from bill collectors at this time. You may worry that the insurance provider is going to play hardball at the negotiating table to put pressure on you to settle for less than your case is worth, or you may worry that the defendant’s finances are too strained to honor the payment agreement. The Salamati Firm will work hard for you to ensure you receive a fair settlement, paid in full.   

Court Procedures Will Look Different

When the Coronavirus pandemic broke out, the Los Angeles Superior Court closed its doors to trials and non-essential matters through June 10, 2020. In April, Emergency Rule 11 allowed depositions to be conducted remotely, with the court reporter and other parties in different locations using Zoom. In addition to remote depositions, we have always used tools like the electronic sharing of exhibits, remote mediations, extensive written discovery, and virtual focus groups. These processes have enabled cases to continue moving along, despite social distancing protocols.

Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer

Whether you’ve been in a car crash, a slip and fall accident, or sustained another type of personal injury, the Salamati Law Firm is standing by to help. Though it may be tempting to wait until the threat of COVID-19 subsides, the clock is still ticking on the statute of limitations. Failure to initiate your personal injury claim within two years of the accident date could forfeit your right to pursue compensation through the civil court system, so it is in your best interest to contact a lawyer as soon as possible, regardless of how the pandemic plays out.

Our experienced lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning you pay nothing out-of-pocket for legal representation, and only owe a legal fee after we recover money on your behalf. Fortunately, we can handle nearly all personal injury matters over the phone or computer, so there is no reason to avoid seeking the compensation you deserve.

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How Social Media Can Harm Your Slip and Fall Case

February 10, 2021 Slip Trip and Fall

Social media posts, no matter how innocent or well-intentioned, can potentially hurt your slip and fall case if the opposing

Social media posts, no matter how innocent or well-intentioned, can potentially hurt your slip and fall case if the opposing side tries to use them to contradict your version of the accident, or to suggest that your injuries are not as serious as you claim. Despite being completely honest about your injury claim, and having evidence to prove it, if you post photos or other materials on social media that are open to misinterpretation, it could have the effect of creating doubt about your damages and undermining your case.

If you have been injured after slipping and falling, Los Angeles personal injury attorney Sean Salamati recommends that you proceed with caution when it comes to social media.

How Social Media Can Be Used Against You In a Lawsuit

Make no mistake, the defendant’s insurance company will assign someone to your case whose sole focus is minimizing the amount of your financial recovery for the injuries you sustained in a slip and fall accident. In general, the more severe and disabling your injuries are, the more your case will be worth. However, when slip and fall victims post updates, photos, or check-ins on social media that seem to contradict their claims or present themselves in a bad light, the value of their lawsuit may plummet if the defendant brings it to light. The defendant’s insurance company will find a way to monitor everything you post on social media and even posts by others that mention you or are shared with you, looking for the slightest bit of evidence they can use against you.

Examples of How Social Media Can Be Used to Undermine Your Case

If you are seeking damages for loss of enjoyment of life due to the injuries you have sustained in your accident, but then a photo pops up on social media that shows you out on the town having fun with your friends, it might call into question your credibility. Similarly, if you sustained a back injury in a slip and fall accident but your friend posts a video of the two of you running together, it might call into question the validity of your claim.

The Other Side May Have Access to Your Private Social Media Posts

To avoid these pitfalls, slip and fall plaintiffs may consider changing the settings on all their social media accounts to private, meaning only certain people will have access to their posts. While that is a wise step to take, savvy insurance companies and their investigators can still find a way to get access to your account. And if not, the defendant can always subpoena your social media posts, so the judge may order you to turn it all over to the opposition.

What Should You Do?

Perhaps the smartest and safest thing you can do while your slip and fall case is pending is to not post anything on social media and make sure that none of your loved ones share, mention, or tag you in any post. If you absolutely must post on social media, then be sure to avoid mentioning your case and limit your activity to liking other people’s posts and sharing links to news articles.

Given how much is at stake in your slip and fall case, it makes sense to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer at the Salamati Law Firm who knows the tactics that insurance company investigators will use to try to weaken your case, and can advise you how best to avoid any unnecessary social media pitfalls while your claim awaits resolution.

Choosing the right slip and fall lawyer in Los Angeles matters when it comes to getting the compensation you need to cover medical bills and other expenses and getting your life back on track after a serious injury. Don’t leave money on the table. Take on the deep-pocketed insurance company with a lawyer who has spent over two decades building a reputation for integrity and results in cases just like yours. Call anytime, 24/7, for a free case review.

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Can You Sue For a Slip and Fall if You Were Intoxicated?

February 9, 2021 Slip Trip and Fall

People often get seriously injured when they slip and fall. However, if someone was intoxicated, they may be too embarrassed

People often get seriously injured when they slip and fall. However, if someone was intoxicated, they may be too embarrassed to file a lawsuit with a slip and fall lawyer in Los Angeles. It is important to note, though, that you can still sue the property owner as long as you can prove that they were negligent.

Common Arguments You Can Expect from the Property Owner

If you were intoxicated at the time, the property owner might argue that you fell because your vision, focus, coordination, balance, or judgment was impaired. While these arguments may have some merit to them, it still does not let the defendant off the hook.

What is Comparative Negligence?

California is a “comparative negligence” state, which means that the plaintiff in a slip and fall case can share some– or even most– of the blame and still receive financial compensation from the defendant. For example, if you were 50 percent at-fault for your slip and fall because you were intoxicated, you would still be eligible to recover 50 percent of your damages. So if you are suing for $1 million due to the severe injuries you sustained, you could still recover $500,000 despite sharing half of the blame.

Here is What You Need to Prove

To prove that the defendant was negligent, you will need to prove the following:

  • That the defendant owed you a duty of care—unless you were trespassing.
  • That the defendant breached this duty of care by causing or allowing a dangerous condition to exist on their property and not fixing it, blocking it off, or at the very least posting clear warning signs.
  • This dangerous condition is what caused you to slip. This is where the defendant might claim that you would not have slipped and fallen if you had been sober.
  • That you sustained serious injuries as a result of this accident.

The Right Attorney Will Know How to Handle Your Case

Slip and fall accidents where the plaintiff was intoxicated are complex. At Salamati Law, we always recommend hiring an experienced personal injury attorney who knows how to maximize your financial compensation. Even if you were intoxicated, it still does not excuse the property owner for negligence.

Call Today for a Free Consultation

If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident while intoxicated, call Salamati Law today to book a free consultation. There are no upfront legal costs, as we work on a contingency-fee-basis.

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Hip Fractures Carry Additional Risks for the Elderly

February 9, 2021 Slip Trip and Fall

According to research published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, hip fractures carry additional risks for the elderly,

According to research published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, hip fractures carry additional risks for the elderly, particularly those who are living alone after the accident. This study indicates that their mortality rate is higher. If you have fractured your hip in a slip and fall due to someone else’s negligence, contact us at Salamati Law to review your case

More Details on the Study

The survey above was conducted in Norway and examined male and female patients with a fractured hip in the period between 2002 and 2013. Over 12,000 men and over 22,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 were studied. The researchers found that the survival rate after eight years was 43 percent for men and 61 percent for women who were living alone. In comparison, the survival rate was 51 percent for men and 67 percent for women when living with a partner.

What You Can Do to Combat this Trend

If your hip fracture was caused by another person’s negligence, whether in a nursing home or at a grocery store, the right attorney can help maximize your financial recovery for your damages. One key component of the damages is around-the-clock in-home care, if necessary. This would help ensure that you are as safe as possible to facilitate your rehabilitation and recovery.

Common Challenges That Hip Fracture Patients Face

Some of the essential needs for hip fracture patients following a slip and fall accident in a nursing home  or on a slippery sidewalk include the following:

  • Staying up to date with all prescriptions
  • Eating a diet that promotes bone health
  • Physical therapy to regain strength
  • Regular emotional support to deal with the significant lifestyle changes from this injury

Contact us for a free consultation

Putting your case in the hands of a trusted and experienced Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer can maximize your financial compensation for your hip fracture. At Salamati Law, we have been representing some of the most vulnerable personal injury victims in Los Angeles and aggressively pursuing justice on their behalf for over a quarter of a century.

If you are a senior citizen who has fractured your hip, call Salamati Law today, and we will book your free initial consultation. There are no upfront legal costs, as we work on a contingency-fee-basis.

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Los Angeles MTA Debuts First Phase of NextGen Bus Plan

February 5, 2021 Bus Accidents

In late December 2020, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) debuted the first of three phases of its next-generation

In late December 2020, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) debuted the first of three phases of its next-generation bus plan for the greater LA region. This first phase changed existing routes and added new service into previously underserved areas, including Watts/Willowbrook, and Lax/Ingleside.  

What is the NextGen Bus Plan?

In response to a drop in ridership, in 2018 the MTA began a two-year review of its services. The NextGen Bus Plan is the culmination of that review. The Plan has been characterized as the first major overhaul of the Los Angeles region’s public transportation bus services in more than twenty-five years. After the first phase has been fully implemented, the MTA will turn to the second and third phases of the Plan in mid and late 2021.

What are the Plan’s highlights?

The MTA has released full details of anticipated bus service changes. The more significant changes in MTA bus service include:

  • Discontinuation of several of the lowest-performing express service lines, with increased service frequency of local lines that overlapped the express lines
  • Permanent elimination of certain lines that were reduced in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Elimination of stops at some rail lines
  • Elimination of a small number of unproductive or unused route segments
  • Schedule adjustments on some lines to better serve key destinations

How is the MTA responding to concerns from riders?

The MTA has fielded multiple complaints in 2020 based on long waiting times and crowded buses that ran counter to social distancing recommendations. MTA representatives have acknowledged these concerns and have placed a renewed priority on transit rider safety as the NextGen Bus Plan is implemented.

Will the Plan create genuine improvements in Los Angeles bus service?

Riders have good reason to be cautiously optimistic about public transportation in Los Angeles, particularly after the California Transit Commission allocated $25 million for NextGen bus improvements. Those funds are expected to go toward the expansion of all-door boarding, transit signal improvements, and bus priority lanes. 

If you have been injured in a bus accident in Southern California, contact Los Angeles personal injury lawyer Sean Salamati to get a clear explanation of your legal rights and all the information you need to decide on which next step is right for you.

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Study Shows Los Angeles Car Accidents Down by 21% in 2020

January 7, 2021 Auto Accidents

If there is an upside to the pandemic that has affected our lives so profoundly, it is that motor vehicle

blurry car windshield highway

If there is an upside to the pandemic that has affected our lives so profoundly, it is that motor vehicle accident rates dropped significantly last year. That is likely the result of stay-at-home orders.

While it is good news that car crashes are down by more than one-fifth, that does not mean less need for diligence. Los Angeles remains overwhelmingly dependent on them for transportation.

National Study Results

The analytics company INRIX conducted a study on the impact of Covid-19 on the nation’s busiest and most dangerous roadways. From April to October 2020, the number of collisions in Los Angeles dropped by 21 percent over the previous year. That is the 19th largest reduction in crashes out of 25 metropolitan areas.

According to the study, the riskiest hotspot for a Los Angeles crash was Long Beach Boulevard at the I-105 Century Freeway. However, Interstate 10 is usually the site of the most accidents in the Los Angeles area, and those numbers came in 26 percent lower.  

Other major California cities saw similar motor vehicle accident reductions. In San Francisco, collisions dropped by 28 percent, and 29 percent in San Diego. Sacramento was down by 30 percent. Nationally, New York City saw the most significant decrease, at 38 percent.

Trends Revealed

The INRIX study reveals several trends accounting for the sharp drop in accidents. Consumer trips– those formerly casual jaunts to stores, restaurants, entertainment venues, and the like– are down “massively.” The study notes that trip reductions mirror guidance for working at home when possible, social distancing, and sheltering in place.

INRIX forecasts more cities will experience what the currently most impacted metro areas are going through as the pandemic continues to spread.

Gridlock Back in Places

Gridlock is coming back in some parts of Los Angeles. In fact, one of the ways local officials monitor increasing traffic volume is by a rise in the number of collisions. While the traffic numbers are still down from the prior year, much will depend on the course of Covid-19 and the mandated restrictions.

While traffic jams are not what they once were in LA, more room on the road has led to an often-deadly increase in speeding. Less traffic on the roads does not necessarily mean fewer deaths and severe injuries due to speeding drivers. Traffic jams force people to slow down, and collisions at low speeds do not generally wreak the damage of a high-speed crash.

Contact us for a free consultation

If you or someone you know was injured in a motor vehicle crash because of another driver’s negligence, contact a  car accident lawyer in Los Angeles at Salamati Law. Arrange a free consultation by completing our online form or calling or texting 24/7.  

After discussing your claim, we will advise you of your options. Our work is performed on a contingency basis. You pay no fee unless we win.

Los Angeles Car Accident Law Blog

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New California Traffic Laws Go Into Effect January 1, 2021

January 6, 2021 Auto Accidents

New traffic laws went into effect in California on the first day of 2021. Most of this year’s changes amend

New traffic laws went into effect in California on the first day of 2021. Most of this year’s changes amend or expand existing state traffic laws.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a major cause of collisions. As of 2021, anyone caught texting or talking on a cellphone more than once during a three-year period receives a point on their license. Hands-free technology is not affected. By law, a driver cannot hold a cellphone while driving.

While a distracted driving citation involves fines, it does not add points to the driver’s license. This second offense with 36 months changes that. Accumulate at least four points within a 12-month period, or six points or more in 24 months, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) considers you a negligent driver. Auto insurance rates will likely rise, and the DMV may refuse to renew the driver’s license.

Move Over Law

Before this year, drivers were only required to move over for emergency vehicles or road maintenance crews if they were on a freeway. Now, the Move Over Law extends to any type of roadway.

Working on a road crew poses various dangers. Getting struck by a vehicle that failed to slow down or move over in the construction area is among the worst.

Civil Liability Protection

New legislation protects a person from civil liability in the event they break open a car’s window to rescue a child. Protection from civil liability when coming to another’s aid is known as a Good Samaritan law. The new law also prevents the person from facing criminal charges for breaking into the car.

For instance, someone spotting a child under age 6 alone in a closed vehicle on a hot day can break open the car window to save a youngster in distress from heatstroke. They are free from liability for breaking the window if the child’s life was in danger. There is already a law in place mandating criminal penalties for anyone leaving young children unattended in vehicles. The law already exempts those rescuing an animal locked in a very hot or very cold car from civil and criminal penalties.

New Emergency Vehicle Warning Sound

When drivers hear a siren, they know an emergency vehicle is in their midst and respond accordingly. As of this year, emergency vehicles may use a “hi-lo” warning sound rather than a siren. The actual sound is not yet standardized statewide, but the CHP is currently working on this standardization.

Contact a Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney

Distracted driving and failure to move over for an emergency vehicle or road crew can result in serious injury or death. If you or someone you know were injured by a distracted driver, seek legal advice as soon as possible.  A Los Angeles car accident lawyer at Salamati Law will review your claim and let you know your options. Fill out our online form or call or text us 24/7 to arrange a free consultation.

Because we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless you receive compensation.

Los Angeles Car Accident Law Blog

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COVID-19, Retailers, & Business Interruption Insurance in California

May 6, 2020 Business Interruption Insurance

These are incredibly difficult times for California’s brick-and-mortar retailers. When shelter-in-place orders went into effect in response to the COVID-19

These are incredibly difficult times for California’s brick-and-mortar retailers. When shelter-in-place orders went into effect in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many retailers who were not deemed “essential” were forced to close their doors indefinitely. While some businesses were able to offer online purchasing or curbside delivery service, many others could not adapt – for practical or financial reasons. 

Popular tourist destinations in Los Angeles have been especially hit hard, as many establishments rely on vacationers for a substantial portion of their sales. The complete drop in tourism and temporary closures caused by the coronavirus outbreak means that both small retail shop owners and large retail chains are turning to their commercial property insurance policies for protection. 

Economic losses from the COVID 19 Pandemic

When retailers are forced to shut their doors, their economic losses go beyond stale inventory and lost sales. There are utility bills to be paid, payroll to be met, and rent or mortgage payments that cannot be ignored.

It is not surprising that the first wave of business interruption insurance claims was quickly denied – and done so without proper investigation. Now more than ever, it’s absolutely vital that retail establishments review the provisions and language of their policies, specifically with regard to contingent business interruption insurance and/or civil authority coverage.

Both of these coverages should, in theory, reduce the economic burdens caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

Retailers turning to Business Interruption Insurance

Business interruption insurance is a common supplement to a property insurance policy, which covers losses caused (either directly or indirectly) by specified perils. Causes of loss that are not outlined in the policy are normally not covered. Business interruption coverage is generally triggered in cases where you have physical property loss or damage that causes the interruption – for example, flooding or fire damage.

Insurers are now claiming that retailers were not ‘physically affected’ by the coronavirus quarantine orders, or that since no physical damage occurred, the benefits aren’t triggered. Policyholders should bear in mind that past rulings, or case law, suggest that coronavirus contamination or a property’s inability to be inhabited may constitute physical loss activating coverage for business interruption losses.

The presence of an infected person or an infectious illness can render a retail store uninhabitable, and once this is demonstrated, retailers may be able to collect on their insurance claim.

Civil Authority Coverage

California retailers that have civil authority coverage and were ordered to close their doors may be able to secure compensation for their losses. Civil authority coverage protects against business interruption losses when a state or federal government authority prohibits or hinders access to the policyholder’s business location. Depending on the policy’s language, civil authority coverage may stipulate that access restriction stems from physical loss.

Contingent Business Interruption Coverage

Contingent business interruption insurance may offer another safeguard against COVID-19 losses. This protects your retail business from disruptions that affect your overall supply chain. If you have lost substantial income and are unable to stay afloat after a key partner, supplier, or customer base has problems, this coverage pays for ongoing costs while you search for remedies.

Litigation over pandemic related BI loss claims

The cost of covering Business Interruption claims in the wake of the pandemic will cost insurers billions of dollars. But will insurers pay benefits for COVID-19-related business interruption, or continue with generic denials?

According to the Commissioner for the California Department of Insurance, this will ultimately be decided by our courts and judicial branches. Although the Commissioner acknowledges the ‘real and alarming losses’ faced by business owners throughout the state, he concedes that the answer will lie in the specifics of each policyholder’s contract.

COVID 19 Business Interruption Insurance Claims for Retailers

If you own a retail establishment whose business interruption claim was denied, you are encouraged to file a request for assistance with the California Department of Insurance. Your next step is to consult with a Los Angeles business interruption insurance lawyer who can protect your rights.

Reach out to Salamati Law for a free case review today. Our team is proud to assist CA retail and business owners to seek the payments they deserve under the business interruption insurance policies.

Additional Resources:

  1. JDSupra Legal News, California: Developments in COVID-19 Business Interruption Claims https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/california-developments-in-covid-19-81975/
  2. California Department of Insurance, FAQ on business interruption insurance and other issues affecting California small businesses http://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/140-catastrophes/FAQ-on-Business-Interruption-Insurance.cfm
  3. The National Law Review, Update: Business Interruption Insurance in the Time of COVID-19 https://www.natlawreview.com/article/update-business-interruption-insurance-time-covid-19
  4. Congressional Research Service, Business Interruption Insurance and COVID-19 https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IN/IN11295
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COVID-19, Business Interruption Insurance, and Hotels in California

May 6, 2020 Business Interruption Insurance

The travel and leisure industry has suffered unprecedented losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Hotels have been particularly

The travel and leisure industry has suffered unprecedented losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Hotels have been particularly hard hit, with occupancy and revenue rates falling by 50% or more. 

Hotels that carry business interruption insurance may be able to recover some of these losses by filing and pursuing claims with their insurance carriers. California hotels that need assistance in filing a claim or whose insurers have denied their claim should contact the Salamati Law Firm in Los Angeles. Southern California business interruption insurance attorney Sean Salamati can advise you of your rights and legal options for reimbursement of lost revenue.

Business Interruption Insurance Coverage for California Hotels

Many insurance companies announced at the outset of the pandemic that commercial business interruption policies only cover losses that are related to physical property damage. Regulators and business interruption lawyers quickly responded that at least two other business interruption insurance provisions covered lost revenues due to coronavirus cancellations:

Civil Authority Business Interruption Insurance Coverage 

Governmental actions that preclude the use of a hotel property can trigger business interruption coverage under “civil authority coverage” extensions or riders to commercial policies. These clauses might provide insurance coverage for losses resulting from state and local quarantines, for example, that restrict public gatherings. Commercial insurers will likely argue that quarantine orders affect people, not properties, but that argument might be contrary to history and specific policy language.

Contingent Business Interruption Insurance Coverage

Policies that include “contingent business interruption” extensions or riders might provide reimbursement for lost hotel revenues, for example, associated with supply chain interruptions, canceled events, or loss of use due to decontamination or cleanup.

Industry observers expect commercial insurers to reject civil authority and contingent claims (at least initially) for coronavirus-related business interruptions. California hotels should consult with a knowledgeable and experienced business interruption lawyer to verify their coverage and to rebut any coverage denials from their insurance carriers.  

Covered Losses for Hotels Under Business Interruption Insurance Policies

Businesses in the travel and hospitality industries are often the first to feel the effects of economic downturns, disasters, and restrictions on movement. Many hotels, airlines, event organizers, and similar businesses have been at the forefront of defining the types of claims and losses that are covered by business interruption insurance. For example:

  • In 2003, hotels in Hong Kong successfully petitioned for business interruption insurance coverage caused by the SARS virus;
  • In 2004, a court awarded a favorable opinion to USAirways against its commercial business interruption insurer over lost business claims related to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; 
  • In 2016, a theater group recovered its losses for canceled outdoor performances following wildfires that impaired air quality.

Hotel business interruption insurance coverage is always a function of insurance contract language and the specific facts that cause the hotel to lose bookings and associated revenues. A California hotel that has lost substantial business due to COVID-19 quarantines and cancellations should carefully review their commercial insurance policies and should either notify their insurers or file their claims promptly.   

Use Hotel Records to Prove COVID-19 Business Interruption Losses

Hotels should keep detailed records of bookings and payments, as well as pending reservations, cancellations, and special events. A successful business interruption insurance claim by any hotel in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California will necessarily include this and other information to verify coronavirus business losses. Hotels will have a better chance to recover insurance reimbursements for lost revenues when those records are thorough, straightforward, and verifiable.  

California Insurance Regulators are Encouraging Business Interruption Payments

California’s insurance commissioner has imposed new requirements on insurance companies to conduct full and fair investigations of all business interruption claims relating to losses from the COVID-19 virus. Insurance companies that are authorized to issue policies in California are specifically obligated to comply with their obligations under insurance contracts, to promptly acknowledge claims and provide all necessary forms and information to file claims, and to issue notices of acceptance or denial within 40 days after receiving a claim.

Given these enhanced requirements, an insurer’s denial of a hotel’s coronavirus business interruption claim will likely draw greater scrutiny from the state’s insurance regulators.

Call for Assistance with Business Interruption Insurance and Coronavirus Claims

Hotel bookings and revenues will recover. Until then, hotels should not hesitate to file business interruption claims under their commercial liability policies.

A Los Angeles business interruption insurance lawyer from Salamati Law Firm is a hotel’s best resource to process and file claims and to appeal claim denials. Please call Salamati Law’s Los Angeles offices to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers today.

Additional Resources:

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