What Should I Do if the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Denies Fault?
Motor vehicle accidents are stressful events, and that stress can amplify when the other driver’s insurance company denies fault. You may feel a mix of frustration, confusion, and uncertainty about what steps to take next. Under California law, it’s essential to know your rights and the correct course of action in such situations.
What is the Process for Filing an Insurance Claim in California?
After a motor vehicle accident, the first step typically involves filing an insurance claim with your insurance company and the other driver’s insurer. The insurance company will investigate the claim, which includes reviewing the accident report, inspecting vehicle damages, and potentially talking to witnesses. At the end of this investigation, the insurance company will make a liability decision: either accepting fault and offering a settlement or denying fault altogether.
Why Would an Insurance Company Deny Fault?
Insurance companies are businesses focused on their bottom line. They can deny a claim for several reasons, such as:
1. Insufficient evidence to prove the other driver was at fault
2. Policy exclusions, meaning the incident isn’t covered under the policy’s terms
3. Disputes about the facts or the interpretation of the law
4. Allegations that you contributed to the accident
However, an insurance denial is not the final say on the matter.
What Legal Terms Should I Know?
Before you move forward, acquaint yourself with a couple of key legal terms:
1. Liability: This refers to legal responsibility for an accident. Establishing liability is central to resolving any auto accident case.
2. Comparative Negligence: This term is used to describe a situation where more than one party is responsible for the accident. California follows a “pure comparative negligence” system, which means even if you are partially at fault, you can still recover damages, albeit reduced by your percentage of fault.
What Steps Should I Take After a Denial?
If the other driver’s insurance company denies fault, consider the following steps:
1. Review the Denial Letter: Ensure you understand why the claim was denied. The letter should outline the reasons clearly.
2. Gather More Evidence: If the denial is due to insufficient evidence, consider collecting more data, like police reports, eyewitness accounts, or additional photos.
3. Get an Independent Appraisal: For disputes over the cost of repairs or medical treatment, an independent appraisal can provide a second opinion.
4. Consult an Experienced Attorney: This is crucial, especially when you feel you’re at a standstill.
Should I File a Lawsuit?
In some cases, the next step might be initiating a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. Under California law, you generally have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for personal injury and three years for property damage. Legal battles can be lengthy and expensive, but sometimes they are the only way to secure fair compensation.
Can Mediation Help?
Before going to court, another option might be mediation. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party helps negotiate a settlement. This option is usually less expensive and quicker than going to trial but requires both parties to be willing to negotiate.
What Are My Rights Under California Law?
California law protects your rights in various ways. For instance, insurance companies are required to act in “good faith,” meaning they must deal fairly and openly with you. If they fail to do so, you might have a case for “bad faith,” which could entitle you to additional compensation above and beyond your initial claim.
How Can an Experienced Lawyer Help When My Insurance Denies Fault?
An experienced attorney can provide invaluable assistance in a variety of ways. From expert analysis of your case to skilled negotiation with insurance companies, a lawyer can be your advocate in ensuring you don’t settle for less than you deserve. They can guide you through complex legal terminology and procedures, help gather additional evidence to support your claim, and even file a lawsuit on your behalf if necessary. With stringent timelines for filing personal injury lawsuits under California law, timely legal advice is crucial.
If you have been involved in a car accident and want to protect your rights, call the Hejazi Law Group today at (949) 749-7402 for a case evaluation.