Class actions often involve the claims concerning defective products, unfair insurance practices, unfair business practices, and claims of employees who have been shorted wages or overtime pay. Often these are claims that are too small to bring on behalf a single plaintiff but can be resolved when the claims of those who have suffered the same type of injury are combined as a “class.” Since 1999, Steve Hansen has litigated class actions in Washington courts and in federal courts in Washington State and in states throughout the country. He has been named as class co-counsel in cases that have resulted in recoveries of over 100 million dollars for tens of thousands of class members.
Mr. Hansen's focus in insurance-related class actions have emphasized recovery of compensation for class members who have automobile "diminished value" claims and for claims in compensation for the loss of use of their vehicles.
What is Automobile "Diminished Value"?
When an automobile is damaged in a collision, and sustains certain types of damage, such as damage to structural systems and bodies, it cannot be repaired to the pre-accident condition, since even the best auto repair shops cannot repair a vehicle with the same techniques and equipment as the manufacturers. This is true even when the repair is performed as best as humanly possible. As a result, the vehicle is tangibly different than it was pre-accident. This causes a resulting loss in resale value called, "diminished value," since the market places a lower resale value on a vehicle that has been in a wreck and then repaired.
Ask yourself this common-sense question: given the opportunity to purchase either of two identical used cars, would you pay the same price for the car that was in a collision that caused $5,000.00 in repairs? In Washington, the right to recover for the loss in value (the "diminished value") has been the law for almost 100 years. If your vehicle was damaged by another driver, the law allows you to recover the cost of repairs and the resulting loss in value. You have the legal right to demand this from the at-fault driver or your own insurance company if your vehicle was damaged by a driver without insurance and you have insurance that provides insurance coverage for "uninsured" or "underinsured" motorists.
Your Right to Recover for Loss of Use
If someone damages your car, or RV or boat, you have a right to compensation for the time you were without hte use of the vehicle, RV, boat, etc. This is called compensation for "Loss of Use."
Compensation for Loss of Use is normally measured by the cost of a comparable rental, even if you do not actually incur the costs of renting another vehicle. In Washington, if your vehicle was damaged by another driver, the law allows you to recover for the cost of repairs, the resulting loss in value, and for the loss of use of the vehicle. You have the legal right to demand this from the at-fault driver or your own insruance company if your vehicle was damaged by a driver without insurance and you have insurance that provides insuranced coverage for "uninsured" or "underinsured" motorists.
Wage and Overtime Law
Washington has a "long and proud history of being a pioneer in the protection of employee rights." Drinkwitz v. Alliant Techsystems, Inc., 140 Wn.2d 291, 300, 996 P.2d 582 (2000). An employer who "permits" an employee to work "off the clock" is responsible for payment for that work. An employer "permits" the employee to work off the clock if the employer knows or even has reason to know the employee is performing work. The fact that record of the work is kept by the employer is no defense. If the work "off the clock" causes the employee to work more than forty hours per week, the employer is also required to pay overtime. An employer who knowingly fails to pay an employee for work performed can be responsible for twice the amount of the owed wages.