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Insurer Cal Casualty denied my accident claim despite police report and a witness. They have 0 evidence. Did they break the law?

Claremont, CA |

Can a bad-faith co like Cal. Casualty just say "we don't care what the police report or witnesses said"? If the standard is "is it more likely than not?" and they have 0 evidence to show that it was "not", then aren't there laws that protect consumers from dishonest Ins. cos like Cal. Casualty? Is there a section of the CA Ins.Code that requires insurers to have evidence to back their denials of liability? I sued in small claims for the property damage and easily won, thus establishing thier clear liability, yet they refused to handle the "pain and suffering/ injury" portion of the claim. What law states that claims have two parts? Can I sue them for "negligence" or "dishonesty" regarding facts of the accident if their negligence prolonged my suffering? thanks

Attorney Answers 3


  1. CA has a "res judicata" rule, also known as "claim preclusion" that tries to reduce duplicate and serial litigation, so if you sued this company already for this accident, you can't sue them again. Res judicata applies where:

    (a) the claim in the second action is one which is based on the same factual transaction that was at issue in the first;

    (b) the plaintiff seeks a remedy additional or alternative to the one sought earlier; and

    (c) the claim is of such a nature as could have been joined in the first action. Underlying this standard is the need to strike a delicate balance between the interests of the defendant and of the courts in bringing litigation to a close and the interest of the plaintiff in the vindication of a just claim.

    You sued in Small Claims court, which has jurisdiction to award only up to $7,500, and the rest of the claim is waived. You waived your other claims and any additional money that you could have sued for when you filed that first, and last, suit against the insurer for this accident.

    It's possible, but very uphill given the res judicata effects of your Small Claims suit, that you still could sue them for bad faith denial of the pain and suffering part of your claim. See a personal injury/insurance lawyer to disclose everything and get your claim evaluated.

    Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.


  2. Disagree with Pamela here. If you only sued them for property damage, then you can still sue for bodily injury. They are different fundamental rights. But you must prove that your first lawsuit was only for property damage.


  3. Insurance companies have a duty to not act in bad faith. They may have denied your bodily injury/pain and suffering component of your claim in bad faith. Do you have a written denial and the reasons they gave? To complicate this matter, you obtained a small claims judgment on one component of your claim. Given the denial of this claim, you would be well served to speak with an attorney in your state who focuses on personal injury to address these issues with you.

    The above is for informational purposes and does not constitute advice.

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