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Serve But Be Insured

InsuranceBy Colin McCarthy, J.D., Robinson & Wood, San Jose, CA One of my practice areas is insurance coverage work. I represent people and help businesses work out issues with insurance companies regarding whether a particular lawsuit, loss, or claim is covered by insurance. For many people and businesses, insurance is a must and coverage is a matter of everyday life and business practice. Drive a car, get insurance. Own a home, get homeowners insurance. Run a business, purchase a CGL policy. Get business interruption coverage. A gray area is when we are not quite acting as a person or a business. We are volunteering. We are working selflessly for others. For the common good. Sometimes we are paid. Sometimes we are not. The soccer league, church council, and the HOA cannot get along without us. There are important decisions to be made for the soccer league, for the church, and for the condominium complex. But those decisions have implications! People are affected by them. People are denied permission to do things. The HOA must act if it has information. If the collective “it” of the HOA knows of a dangerous condition, act it must, as we know. But what if only some of the directors are aware of the dangerous conditions? What if that director or directors do nothing? And what if someone gets hurt? He gets sued! And he could, in California, be personally liable for not acting on that knowledge. Yes, personally liable, separate and apart from the HOA ent......
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Insurance and Immunity for HOA

Metal ConcertBy Colin McCarthy, J.D., Robinson & Wood, San Jose, CA I like insurance law. Not many people do, but I do. But then again, I like heavy metal and not many people like that either. (Their loss. And my hearing loss. I digress). I like insurance law because it feels good to help policyholders obtain insurance coverage, and I am also rewarded when the insurance contract is upheld to enforce the mutual agreement of the parties -- insurance coverage is denied because there was no agreement to cover a particular loss. I work with both policyholders and insurance companies and I see both sides of the equation. Sometimes the law interjects to help or hinder the implications of the insurance contract in real-world situations, such as when a volunteer HOA director participates in negligent conduct that leads to an injury. In California, the Civil Code has some statutes that protect the volunteer director from the liability scenario we discussed last post. As a refresher, that director participated in conduct that was arguably negligent with respect to known criminal activity and ordered some lights installed in the common area removed. Later, someone got hurt and sued the HOA and that director for removing the lights and leading to a criminal assault. The director was a volunteer but nonetheless was potentially personally liable. Enacted a couple of years after that lawsuit, Civil Code §1365.7 provides some protection for similarly situated directors. That section provides immunity for a volunteer director of a residential HOA, ......
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