This has come up a few times this week. Usually, the context is someone receiving a letter from their insurance company putting fault on them for an accident. The insured disagrees and wants to know what to do.
Without knowing the facts of the accident, it is impossible for anyone to say who is at fault. Think of fault like a pie. The whole pie is 100%. The insurance companies and/or a jury can divide the pie any way they want. If the insurance companies agree on fault, that is fine. But, their decision is not binding on anyone. I don’t know why adjusters think that their decision is final, but it is not. The final decision, if it goes that far, rests with the finder of fact, either a judge or a jury.
If you were not injured in an accident, there is usually no need to get an attorney. It won’t help unless your damages are over $7,500, the new limit for small claims court in California. If you were injured, you probably want to see an attorney and talk about the facts of the case.
If it is just damage to the car, your insurance company will pay 100% of the damage to your car under your collision coverage. You will pay your deductible to the shop and then your insurance company, at some point in time, will send you a percentage of your deductible back. If you were 80% at fault, they will send you 80% of your deductible. If you were 20% at fault, they will send you 20%. Your insurance company will pay a percentage of the other person’s damage (probably through subrogation) based on your percentage of fault.
Finally, if you disagree with your insurance company’s decision, you can request the matter be reviewed by the insurance company. If you are still not happy, you can ask the Dept of Insurance for a review. If the finding stays 51% or more your fault, your rates will go up.
I hope this helps.