As a business attorney Tulsa I am blown away at the number of individuals who do not have automobile insurance. It is baffling. Not having insurance is the equivalent of driving drunk through an icy parking lot where children are playing hockey on a motorcycle without a helmet. You are asking for trouble.
Surprisingly, I find that many businesses do not have a policy of liability insurance. It is baffling to me as a business attorney Tulsa. Now understand that nobody likes insurance. But insurance is a shield to protect you from exposure. When you buy a policy of insurance, you are really buying two things. First, you are buying asset protection for yourself as the policy of insurance will satisfy a specified amount of certain judgments against you. The second is you are buying an insurance defense lawyer who will bill the insurance company but have legal obligations to defend you in the event a lawsuit is filed.
Now understand that insurance policies are written with numerous exclusions. And trust me as a business attorney Tulsa when I say that insurance companies love to deny coverage as it makes them millions in profits by doing so. For example, punitive damages are not covered under most insurance policies in Oklahoma. Even though this is true, let me give you an example of how that can play out. I once helped defend a wrongful death lawsuit wherein a woman was murdered when a semi tractor-trailer crossed the line and clipped a trailer the woman and her husband were hauling. The woman did not survive, but the man did. The case went to trial. At the first stage, the Plaintiffs won and the judge instructed on punitive damages. Now even though punitive damages were not covered under this policy, the insurance company negotiated with the Plaintiffs and settled the case.
I had another lawsuit where there were coverage issues. I once helped defend a bad wreck case where the Plaintiff was hit from behind by a large truck that worked in the oil and gas field. The case went on for a very long time as there were numerous issues in the case. When we started doing depositions in the case, we soon learned that this company had many disgruntled former employees. This was not good. These individuals had some very harsh things to say about the company, particularly as it relates to safety. It became apparent to this business attorney Tulsa that there was a very real chance of punitive damage exposure for this case.
This company hired their own business attorney Tulsa in addition to us (the attorneys hired by the insurance company and assigned to defend the company in the lawsuit). This attorney sent what we call a “hammer letter.” This letter tells the insurance company that the insured purchased a policy of insurance and not-so gently reminds the insurance company that bad faith exposure could exist if the insurance company does not negotiate in good faith. This case settled the Saturday before trial due to a huge victory on some motions in limine. As an aside, motions in limine are filed before trial to address any evidentiary issues that may exist in this case. Not surprisingly here, there were numerous evidentiary issues based on what these disgruntled former employees said. We got the rulings from the judge on Friday at 4:00 PM and the case settled the next day around 3:00 PM.
This story is telling for two separate, equally important reasons. The first is that insurance is very important, just as important as having a business attorney Tulsa. This case settled largely because we got lucky on some motions (which I wrote, by the way). Had this case gone to trial, I am confident the judge would have instructed on punitive damages that could have put that particular company out of business.
The second is if you have disgruntled former employees, there is a chance they could become witnesses against you in a lawsuit. The Plaintiffs’ business attorney Tulsa in this particular case did an outstanding job of finding these former employees, getting them served, and deposing them. That investigative effort is not uncommon. The Plaintiffs’ bar knows that those types of witnesses can be powerful for their case. They waste no resource in locating those folks and getting them in front of the jury.
So when it comes to insurance, there is no question. You MUST have it. In the stories above, while I never saw the final bill, I am confident the insurance companies paid the law firm I worked for over $100,000.00 in legal fees. The insurance companies also paid substantial sums to the Plaintiffs and the Plaintiffs’ business attorney Tulsa to get the case settled.
Now imagine that something horrific happens at work and you have to hire a law firm to defend your company. The firm I used to work for would take cases directly from clients. But understand it is going to cost you. Substantially. It could even mean you close your doors for good.
I recommend contacting an insurance agent who specializes in commercial policies. There are some insurance companies that only handle commercial insurance. Many of these companies hire top-quality adjusters who really know what they are doing. I as a business attorney Tulsa had the fortune of working with some of them. I also had the misfortune of working with some who were not the greatest.
If you are a business without insurance, stop what you are doing and purchase a policy of insurance. Today. In addition to all of the benefits described above, it will provide you with a peace of mind that the business you worked so hard to build is protected. You can continue your focus and passion, your business, while the insurance company can worry about whatever claims and lawsuits are filed against you.
Hopefully, you will go through your entire business career and never get sued. As a business attorney Tulsa I have met some people who have been this lucky. If so, great! But what every person I have met who owns a business and has never been sued has told me the same thing. When I ask if they have insurance, they all reflexively respond, “Yes! It is better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”