Visitor Question

Insurance denying claim because at-fault driver won’t admit she was involved?

Submitted By: Lorenzo (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

About 2 months ago I had a rear end collision with another car and they escaped. We called the police and they opened a case, but told us that it would be difficult to identify the other car. Luckily a witness saw what happened and called the police with the plate number. When my insurance got the plate number they were able to identify the other insurance and open a claim with them.

Now the problem is that the owner of the other car doesn’t admit that she was involved in the accident and the other insurance says that if she doesn’t admit there is nothing they can do. What can I do at this point?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Lorenzo,

That is ludicrous!

The car owner is responsible for damages he or she caused to another car. This is true even if the owner wasn’t driving at the time of the accident, but instead allowed someone else to drive and that person caused the accident.

Moreover, you have a witness who saw the accident and reported it to the police. Even if your witness was unable to identify the driver, the witness was able to obtain the license plate number. The only instance in which the owner might be relieved of liability would be if the car was stolen and the thief caused the accident. There appears to be no evidence of that.

If the insurance company persists in denying your claim you have the right to pursue a third-party small claims lawsuit in one of Florida’s Small Claims Courts. Florida Small Claims Courts have jurisdiction to hear cases up to $5,000. If you decide to do so, it would be helpful if you first spoke with the claims adjuster who denied your claim.

Make the adjuster aware of  your frustration. Have the adjuster review with you the reasons s/he is is denying your claim. If the adjuster still refuses to cooperate,  inform the adjuster you’ll be filing a small claims lawsuit.

It is not appropriate to “threaten” the adjuster. Instead, explain calmly that s/he is leaving you no other option but to pursue a lawsuit. Once you tell the adjuster you will be filing a lawsuit you should follow through. Doing so makes clear you weren’t just threatening the adjuster.

When you file your lawsuit, you must sue the owner of the car, and not the insurance company. However, once the car owner is served with the lawsuit, the owner’s insurance company is legally obligated to defend the suit. That’s just fine. Hopefully, discussing filing a lawsuit will help the adjuster to accept liability and pay your claim.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: October 19, 2017

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