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Can the insurance company refuse to pay my claim if I get a judgement in my favor in small claims court?

North Hollywood, CA |

I was in a car accident 4 months ago. I was stopped on the fwy and this girl rear ended us at approx 25-30 mph. I went to the ER and was diagnosed with acute back strain. I was prescribed medication and was advised to seek chiropractic treatment if pain persisted, which it did and got worse. My bills came out to 2600$. The damage to the car was 1200$. I tried to settle with the insurance company and they only offered 1700 which doesn't even cover the medical. The reason being that I could not possibly have been hurt with such little damage. I filed for small claims court against the other driver. Now what? Will they settle before court? What should I expect to happen next? Please help

Since I refusethe offer of 1700, they have now sent me a letter saying that there is no offer and I could not be hurt. If the judge decides in my favor, will they be required to pay? I go to court in 3 weeks or so.Also I was told the insured is trying to file a continuance because she has a family vacation which in California is not a valid reason to postpone a court date. Why is the insurance company stalling? I just want this to be settled already. I see why people hire lawyers. This has been stressful to say the least.

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Attorney answers 4


bring your witnesses, bills, estimates and ask for the 7500.00 maximum for small claims court.


You've asked for help and here are my thoughts: by bringing your own case in small claims court you have notified the insurance company that you have a small case, and you admit that. Find an experienced personal injury attorney ASAP to remove the case or otherwise get it out of small claims court. A couple of points: (1) The insurance industry's own statistics confirm that once an attorney is brought in to a claim, the value goes up, (2) Your own attorney has a duty to thoroughly inform you as to all of the potential elements of recovery which the claims adjuster does not have time to tell you about and (3) settlements and judgments are forever. This means that once you obtain a judgment or settlement, this is the final disposition of the case forever. Should you later need additional treatment or discover an outstanding charge you did not know about, it is too late to go back. So, when we go to court we include a medical narrative informing the factfinder of the likelihood of the need for any future treatment.

My office handles personal injury and accident cases in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. And despite the procedural and legal differences between our states, the insurance standards and case valuation aspects of this topic are relatively universal across the U.S.




If you have already sued in small claims court, it is less likely that you will get a settlement proposal before your trial date. You should full expect to present your case in its entirety at trial with documents, photos, receipts, witnesses, etc.

Good luck!

The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author (who is only admitted to practice law in the State of California). For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.


The longer an insurance company delays, the longer they retain money in their reserves which they will ultimately pay to you. While you are waiving, they are earning interest on the reserves.

I would think that it is probably too soon (4 months postaccident) to determine what, if any, permanent injuries you may have received from this collision.

You should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow the doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to any medical records. Photograph the injuries and the damage done to any property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on dealing with many of the issues you are now facing.

Legal Disclaimer:

If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

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