100 Most Influential Lawyers in America – the National Law Journal

Hiepler group internal banner

100 Most Influential Lawyers in America
– the National Law Journal

  1. Home
  2.  → 
  3. Articles
  4.  → Legal Tip Of The Month

Legal Tip of the Month

Legal Tips

Top 10 Questions To Ask Before Selecting an Attorney to Handle a CA Wrongful Death, Serious Injury, or Insurance Denial Case

We look at numerous cases each month and we have to be very selective in the cases that we handle. Years ago I was asked by a very thoughtful person who was interviewing numerous firms, including ours, “What are the top 10 questions I should be asking?” At that time, I came up with these 10 questions. We were fortunate that the family from Los Angeles did hire us to represent them in an insurance bad faith case. I was very impressed with their suggestion that I articulate to them the most important questions they should ask of me as an attorney who handles insurance bad faith and serious injury cases. It is important that the individual and/or family battling an insurance company, or trying to correct negligent behavior that has resulted in a tragic wrongful death or serious injury to a loved one, find the right person at the right time. You only get one opportunity to address the wrong that has occurred.

Here are the 10 questions:

1. How much money is the attorney willing to spend to give my wrongful death, insurance bad faith or injury case the best opportunity to succeed at trial?

2. How does the attorney finance the case?

3. What is the attorney’s reputation among defense firms and with the insurance companies who ultimately pay on injury or bad faith insurance cases?

4. What is the attorney’s track record at trial – wins, losses, size of verdicts?

5. Does the attorney enjoy a good reputation locally, statewide and nationally?

6. Is the attorney someone you can work with for two years to four years?

7. Does the attorney have the necessary staff to complement your case?

8. Does the attorney have a specific detailed plan for handling your case?

9. What type of national rating does the attorney or law firm enjoy?

10. Has the attorney or firm received any honors that will add credibility to my case?


Legal Tips

Umbrella Insurance: A Way to Protect You and Your Family From Financial Devastation

umbrella image

Your home, your life savings – everything you have worked for over the years could all be taken because you have inadequate insurance. This nightmare is avoidable by having in place insurance known as umbrella or excess insurance. Umbrella insurance protects you and your family in a variety of situations ranging from coverage for injuries to another person caused by you or a family member while driving your vehicle, to covering medical expenses incurred by a guest in your home who is bit by the family dog.

What is it?:

The primary purpose of umbrella or excess insurance is to cover you for damages beyond those that are covered by your underlying policies. It sits on top of your underlying insurance polices and provides you added coverage in the event the limits of the underlying policies are inadequate. It protects you from having to look to your own assets and from possible financial devastation.

Why You Should Have Umbrella Insurance:

If a claim or a lawsuit is brought against you for damages for which you are legally liable and the damages exceed the limits of your underlying policy limits, umbrella insurance steps in to cover these damages. Umbrella insurance helps protect you from possibly having to look to your own assets. In the event you do not have umbrella insurance in place and you are liable for damages that exceed your underlying liability policy, your home, your life savings – everything you have worked for over the years could be in jeopardy of being lost.

For example, your spouse or child loses control of your vehicle during a rainstorm resulting in serious injury to a father and husband of two young children. You may only have $250,000 in liability coverage under your automobile liability policy. If the injuries sustained by the individual that was hit are in excess of $250,000, you would have to look to your own assets to pay for the excess amount of damages unless you had an adequate umbrella insurance policy to cover the loss.

What You Should Do:

Call your insurance and ask about obtaining an umbrella policy to protect you, your family and all that you have worked for. For as little as $350.00 a year, you and your family can have in place $1 million in umbrella coverage.

Legal Tips

What: Uninsured And Underinsured Motorist Coverage On Your Automobile Policy

Who: All California Drivers

When: Call Your Insurance Broker Today


Driving is dangerous. Our crowded streets and freeways require every driver’s full attention, yet many people drive while distracted. We have all seen people eating, on the phone, and even texting while driving. A distraction that takes a driver’s eyes off the road for even a second can lead to tragedy.

California law requires all drivers to have insurance policies, but only requires $15,000 of coverage. This amount does not cover medical expenses in even minor collisions. Many drivers have these minimum policies and many people choose to drive without any liability insurance at all. These people are driving on the same roads as you every day.

You can protect yourself and your family by purchasing uninsured and under insured motorist coverage for all of your vehicles. If you have such coverage you are protected if you are hit by an uninsured or under insured motorist. Your actual coverage depends on how much insurance coverage the other driver has. If you have $30,000 in uninsured/under insured motorist coverage and the at-fault driver has a $15,000 policy, then your under insured coverage is actually $15,000 because your insurance company is allowed a credit for the amount of insurance the at-fault driver has.

Three Simple Steps to Take to Protect Yourself and Family

If you do not already have uninsured/under insured motorist coverage, take these three steps today:

  1. Call your insurance broker,
  2. Ask your broker if you have uninsured/under insured motorist coverage and the limits of your coverage, and
  3. Add the maximum coverage available to your policy. Your peace of mind is easily worth the slight monthly cost of uninsured/under insured motorist coverage, which is often just dollars a month.

Here are two examples from our case files highlighting the importance of uninsured/under insured motorist coverage:

Tragedy Strikes A Good Samaritan

We represent a young woman who stopped on the freeway to help a driver who had run out of gas. Suddenly, a drunk driver swerved onto the shoulder, struck the vehicles, and seriously injured our client. The drunk driver was uninsured, even though she was driving a new luxury vehicle. Unfortunately, our client did not have uninsured motorist coverage.

Success Story

We recently represented a woman who was crossing the street in a marked crosswalk when she was hit by a vehicle turning left. She suffered serious injuries and required neck surgery. The driver of the vehicle was clearly at fault, but only had $30,000 of insurance. Fortunately, our client had under insured motorist coverage of $500,000. After settling with the at-fault driver for his full policy, we settled with our client’s insurance company for the full under insured motorist policy.

If you have any questions, please contact our office to speak with Mark Hiepler or any one of our team of attorneys at .

Serving All of California In Wrongful Death, Serious Injury, and Insurance Denial Matters.