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Legal recourse for automobile arbitration in California

A couple months ago I was driving down a one way street (in California), 3 lane road at 5 mph in the right most lane, when a SUV in the middle lane came into my lane and hit me. I stopped and was unable to get out because the more car door was crushed. The SUV drove off around the block and eventually stopped. I tried to call 911, but the police refused to come because there were no bodily injuries. There for no police report.

I called my insurance immediately and tried to stop the traffic to get a witness but nobody would stop. The other person was driving his friend car, with insurance and registration from another vehicle. At first when I contacted there insurance they accepted liability. But then there insuree changed there story and disputed the accident. Now per my insurance company this whole process has to be settled in arbitration, with only a case presentation based on evidence.

I was hit and now I feel victimized, because the other person changed there story, I took pictures and gave a clear signed testimony. If the arbitration does not find 100 in my favor what is my legal recourse to recoup damages?


Hello John,

Arbitration bounds the insurance companies, not you necessarily. The arbitration process is based entirely on undisputed evidence. The same would be true for a court of law. However, as noted, an arbitration decision does not bind you necessarily. You would have to bring a lawsuit against the person that hit you and show that you are not responsible for the damages by a preponderance of the evidence. This could be hard in a word vs. word dispute with no witness and no police report. Your insurance company has no duty to sue in court for you. It is something that you have to do on your own.

The only issue is that judges will ask why this matter is not being settled by insurance. They will learn of the arbitration decision and that could influence the judge, in other words, they can simply agree with such decision. Some judges might not even consider the question and rule on the case.

The judgment AND the arbitration decision must be honored by insurance. This does not happen very often, but in the rare event that the arbitration decision is not consistent with a court of law, the insurance company is bound by the policy to pay anything an insured is legally required to pay (a judgment) and also it is bound by the arbitration agreement that they have with other carriers. These would have to honor both decisions, ensuring that no double payment occurs.

Going to court seems to be the only option as arbitration decisions are not appealable.

For more information about the arbitration process, visit:

For more information about how to go to small claims court visit:

Good Luck,

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