Do I Need a Lawyer if the At-Fault Driver Won’t Respond?
Whether you were involved in a low speed “fender bender” or a major collision where another motorist was to blame, it can be exceedingly frustrating when the at-fault party will not respond or cooperate. Because California’s insurance coverage is based on a “fault” system, the individual responsible for the accident can be sued for property damage, medical bills and other related expenses. In most cases, you would pursue a claim for damages not with your own insurance carrier but through the at-fault driver’s insurance company. When this happens, the company will assign a claims adjuster to investigate the case. In the course of these investigations, the adjuster will need to speak with their own client to verify facts, and it is incumbent that drivers cooperate with the investigators to facilitate these efforts.
However, if the at fault driver is not responding to the adjuster’s emails or calls, where does that leave you? If you find yourself in this situation, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the claims process and hold the negligent driver accountable for your losses. At Ellis Law, our legal team boasts nearly three decades of experience advocating for accident victims throughout the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area.
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Insurance companies have “non-cooperation” clauses
According to the California Department of Insurance, insurance companies are required to acknowledge a claim, begin investigations and provide “reasonable assistance” no later than 15 days after receiving notice that a claim has been filed.
Insurance policies also have a “duty to cooperate” or “non-cooperation” clause. This clause basically states that the insured party is obligated to cooperate with the adjuster’s investigation of the claim. If the insured person refuses or fails to cooperate, the company can then deny coverage. While this threat should compel full cooperation, it may not.
Bear in mind that the at-fault driver’s insurance company is still, at its core, a for-profit business. It is in their best interest to protect their customers against costly claims. They may drag their heels during the investigations—even in situations where they don’t need to talk to their own driver — or reject the claim outright. Either way, this leaves the unrepresented in an unfortunate position.
Experienced legal counsel can help you move forward
If your vehicle accident was caused by another person’s negligence, Ellis Law can improve the odds of pursuing a successful claim, regardless if the other motorist is cooperating. We will investigate all available coverages and explore the best strategies for securing compensation. This may include helping you pursue a claim with your own insurance company or bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.
For those who purchased uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, you could make a claim on your own policy if the other driver is being uncooperative. If this recourse isn’t available, and you have photos documenting the accident scene, damage to your vehicle and the possibility of getting eyewitness testimony, a lawsuit would be the next step. A good attorney will anticipate the delays and devious moves employed by insurance companies and know how to navigate the legal process.
Choosing a trustworthy legal representative
There are hundreds of law firms that advertise their prowess handling car accident claims, so how do you choose the right legal advocate? Look for credentials, accomplishments in the court room and legal accolades. Do they take cases on a contingency basis or do they charge by the hour? Do they have a long list of positive client reviews? Do they have the financial resources to hire accident reconstructionists, medical experts and other specialists who can bolster your case? Do they have strong references and ample experience winning complex lawsuits similar to yours before a jury? Do they make themselves available to answer questions in simple jargon you can understand?
In the end, you want a car accident lawyer who listens to you, respects you, and will do whatever it takes to protect your best interests.
Personal injury lawyers serving Los Angeles
To learn more about how a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve, call Ellis Law today. Please call our offices or contact us online to arrange a private case review free of charge.