Can an insurance company close a claim if the at-fault driver won’t cooperate in the investigation?

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Can an insurance company close a claim if the at-fault driver won’t cooperate in the investigation?

I was rear-ended by a driver driving a borrowed car. She isn’t listed on the

owner’s insurance policy. The accident happened on the freeway. It was busy, the traffic slowed, so did I and the next thing I know – I’m hit hard

and I’m pushed off to the side of the road. The back of my car is entirely

damaged. I couldn’t even drive it back. It had to be towed. The CHP did come

out on the scene and made a report. Long story short, I contacted the insurance company of the car that hit me almost 2 weeks ago (the accident occurred the day before). I filed my claim and then everything went to hell. I still have no car. I am a student desperately wishing for some progress in my claim…but nothing. I asked what’s causing the delay. I was told they are waiting for recorded statement from the driver who hit me. The driver is being uncooperative. I asked what would happen if they don’t get a statement? I asked if they would consider the police report on file which clearly states the driver is at fault. It said they would close the case/claim without compensating me for the damages if they don’t receive recorded statement from the driver, that they don’t factor in the police report. I am devastated. Is this something that the insurance company can do? Can they dismiss the police report and close the case without recorded statement from the driver who hit me? What can I do to recover my loss?

Asked on February 10, 2017 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Remember that the other driver's insurer is *their* insurer, not yours--that insurance company does not owe any duty or obligation to you. Rather, their duty is only to their insured: to defend him in court, and to pay on his behalf if a court judgment is issued against him, subject to the terms and limits of the policy. Sometimes they choose to pay voluntarily, without the driver damaged by their insured (i.e. you) suing, if they feel that there is sufficient evidence of fault that it is clear that the injured/damaged driver would win in court--but they typically do not do that without information or a statement from their driver. So in terms of offering you a voluntary settlement without you having to sue, they can and likely will close the claim without feedback from their driver supporting making a payment to you.
That does not, however, mean that you have no recourse: you have the right to sue the other driver (you sue the driver, not their insurer) for any damage to your car, costs you incurred, etc. from the accident. If you can prove in court, using witness (including your own) testimony, documentary evidence, etc. by a "preponderance of the evidence" (or that it is "more likely than not") that the other driver was at fault and damaged your car, you can get a court judgment (a court determination or order) that the other driver compensate you for the damage. At that point, he or his insurer should pay. So suing is your option when the other side or their insurer will not voluntarily compensate you.


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