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Author Topic: Advice wanted: Suing someone in Small Claims Court?  (Read 847 times)
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Lyno
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« on: August 14, 2011, 01:12:31 AM »

I need to sue the uninsured driver who ran into my bike to recover the costs of repairs (http://gamingtrend.com/forums/index.php?topic=45180.0). I looked up some information on the LA county courts website (http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/smallclaims/ui/).

Any advice on making the process easier? Should I hire a lawyer?

How much can I sue him for? So far the estimated cost to repair stuff is around $800.

What kind of proof should I provide? I don't have a police report, but I did have a passenger who can corroborate my story. I also have pictures of his license plate from his car's bumper (which fell off).

What are my chances of collecting the money? Should I even bother with the small claims?

-Lyno

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gellar
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« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2011, 01:22:03 AM »

No lawyers in small claims court. 
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Lyno
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2011, 01:23:14 AM »

Quote from: gellar on August 14, 2011, 01:22:03 AM

No lawyers in small claims court. 

Should I ask one to help file it?

-Lyno
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rshetts2
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« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2011, 02:19:31 AM »

If its anything like Michigan, its a very simple process. Basically you fill out a form. You really shouldnt need an attorneys assistance to file in small claims and getting one would just be another expense you dont need.  Chances are the guy wont bother to appear to contest it so you will almost definitely win the judgement but as your agent said, collecting the money is another matter.    I guess you have to weigh the costs vs the hassle.

As far as the amount, sue for what you can document, repair expenses, medical etc, up to what ever limit California puts on small claims suits.
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drifter
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« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2011, 06:06:16 PM »

Why isn't your insurance company dealing with this?  That's part of what they do.
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SkyLander
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« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2011, 07:49:36 PM »

Seriously though, you and whoever else was on your bike should go see a doctor for that whiplash. To many people shrugged off and it ended up seriously fucking up there back. Medical expenses can be something else you add to your case.
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Lyno
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« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2011, 08:02:23 PM »

Quote from: drifter on August 14, 2011, 06:06:16 PM

Why isn't your insurance company dealing with this?  That's part of what they do.


Because I am insured for everything except uninsured drivers.

The claims agent said he will see what he can do about the guy, but doesn't have much hope.

-Lyno
« Last Edit: August 14, 2011, 08:08:17 PM by Lyno » Logged
Lyno
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« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2011, 08:07:17 PM »

Quote from: SkyLander on August 14, 2011, 07:49:36 PM

Seriously though, you and whoever else was on your bike should go see a doctor for that whiplash. To many people shrugged off and it ended up seriously fucking up there back. Medical expenses can be something else you add to your case.

I feel fine now, and so does my friend. She also doesn't have medical insurance and doesn't want to go to the hospital.

At this point, I don't have much hope the guy will be able to afford pay for my bike expenses, let alone medical fees. But I'm willing to pay the $50 fee to file in small claims court plus the $30 Sheriff's process server fee to make his life a little less happy.

-Lyno
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wonderpug
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« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2011, 08:41:40 PM »

My god man.

Quote from: YOU
Me and my passenger are able to walk okay, but both of us are bruised (she ended up with severe whiplash and her entire back all black and blue the next day).

ONE, you clearly both need medical attention based on the above statement.

TWO, you and your friend are shooting yourself in the foot legally by not getting immediate medical attention.  What if your friend's whiplash pain comes back in a few months, or you start feeling pain down the line because you're not as ok as you think you are?  My friend got rear ended in a relatively low-speed accident and she's still suffering from neck pain some 2-3 years later.

YOU GOT HIT BY A CAR!

Stop tiptoeing around the issue like it might somehow turn out you were not just hit by a f@#$ing car.
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pr0ner
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« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2011, 09:19:27 PM »

Quote from: wonderpug on August 14, 2011, 08:41:40 PM

Stop tiptoeing around the issue like it might somehow turn out you were not just hit by a f@#$ing car.

This.  This.  A million times this.
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Lyno
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« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2011, 09:56:15 AM »

Quote from: pr0ner on August 14, 2011, 09:19:27 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on August 14, 2011, 08:41:40 PM

Stop tiptoeing around the issue like it might somehow turn out you were not just hit by a f@#$ing car.

This.  This.  A million times this.

I appreciate the advice and the concern, but we don't want to go to the hospital because we can't afford it. Life sucks, then you get hit by a car. It is what it is.

Do you have any advice about the small claims process that I can use? (Besides going to the doctor and suing this guy for medical expenses that I can't afford).

-Lyno



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Punisher
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« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2011, 12:40:29 PM »

Quote from: Lyno on August 15, 2011, 09:56:15 AM

Quote from: pr0ner on August 14, 2011, 09:19:27 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on August 14, 2011, 08:41:40 PM

Stop tiptoeing around the issue like it might somehow turn out you were not just hit by a f@#$ing car.

This.  This.  A million times this.

I appreciate the advice and the concern, but we don't want to go to the hospital because we can't afford it. Life sucks, then you get hit by a car. It is what it is.

Do you have any advice about the small claims process that I can use? (Besides going to the doctor and suing this guy for medical expenses that I can't afford).

-Lyno
Couple of things....
IF you are hurt and don't take care of it and it gets worse, paying your medical bills are the least of your worries...
Check with your local hospitals.. They may have free services if you can't afford it.....
Check your actual policy... You may have uninsured/underinsured and not know it... same with medical...On my policy, these are separate from the liability and collision I believe...
I think that there may also be a fedaral law regarding paying back medical bills... Something where even if you just pay $25/month, they can't do anything to you...
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rshetts2
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« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2011, 01:03:31 PM »

Definitely check to see if medical is covered under your motorcycle insurance.  Theres a pretty good chance medical is part of your coverage. 
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pr0ner
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« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2011, 01:23:39 PM »

Quote from: Punisher on August 15, 2011, 12:40:29 PM

Quote from: Lyno on August 15, 2011, 09:56:15 AM

Quote from: pr0ner on August 14, 2011, 09:19:27 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on August 14, 2011, 08:41:40 PM

Stop tiptoeing around the issue like it might somehow turn out you were not just hit by a f@#$ing car.

This.  This.  A million times this.

I appreciate the advice and the concern, but we don't want to go to the hospital because we can't afford it. Life sucks, then you get hit by a car. It is what it is.

Do you have any advice about the small claims process that I can use? (Besides going to the doctor and suing this guy for medical expenses that I can't afford).

-Lyno
Couple of things....
IF you are hurt and don't take care of it and it gets worse, paying your medical bills are the least of your worries...
Check with your local hospitals.. They may have free services if you can't afford it.....
Check your actual policy... You may have uninsured/underinsured and not know it... same with medical...On my policy, these are separate from the liability and collision I believe...
I think that there may also be a fedaral law regarding paying back medical bills... Something where even if you just pay $25/month, they can't do anything to you...

Yep, uninsured and medical expenses are separate line items on my auto insurance, as well.
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Scuzz
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« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2011, 03:46:01 PM »

Quote from: Lyno on August 15, 2011, 09:56:15 AM

Quote from: pr0ner on August 14, 2011, 09:19:27 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on August 14, 2011, 08:41:40 PM

Stop tiptoeing around the issue like it might somehow turn out you were not just hit by a f@#$ing car.

This.  This.  A million times this.

I appreciate the advice and the concern, but we don't want to go to the hospital because we can't afford it. Life sucks, then you get hit by a car. It is what it is.

Do you have any advice about the small claims process that I can use? (Besides going to the doctor and suing this guy for medical expenses that I can't afford).

-Lyno






Let me look into the future. You file the claim in small claims and get to court. The driver of the car doesn't show up. You win the case and the judge decides what you should get within the parameters of the court. ($1,500 or is it more now...or $800 if that is what you are asking for). The court will then try to put a lien on the guy. Maybe you collect or maybe you never collect. Maybe a couple years from now, if you are diligent, you will get your money.
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Blackadar
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« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2011, 04:12:58 PM »

I don't mean to dogpile you, Lyno, but I can't believe how badly you screwed this up.  A guy hits you, flees the scene, you/your party has injuries, he comes back and gives you some cock & bull story about it not being his car and you don't call the cops?  The guy wouldn't have gotten out of first gear before I was on the phone with 911 reporting a hit and run.

I guess you learned a lesson the hard way.  Even if you manage to find and serve the guy, your chances of collecting are probably slim and none.  Good luck to you.

To your original questions, you don't need a lawyer.  However, you can only sue for actual damages, so unless you go to the hospital, you can't sue for medical costs.  At this stage, I'd file against him to see if you can get him to cough up something.  Go get the highest estimate you can find for the repair of the bike, file and then if he wants to talk, you might be able to get something before going to court.

Your worst case is that you file, he doesn't show, you get a summary judgement but can't ever collect.
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Blackjack
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« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2011, 05:36:12 PM »

Quote from: Lyno on August 15, 2011, 09:56:15 AM

Quote from: pr0ner on August 14, 2011, 09:19:27 PM

Quote from: wonderpug on August 14, 2011, 08:41:40 PM

Stop tiptoeing around the issue like it might somehow turn out you were not just hit by a f@#$ing car.

This.  This.  A million times this.

I appreciate the advice and the concern, but we don't want to go to the hospital because we can't afford it. Life sucks, then you get hit by a car. It is what it is.
-Lyno
At the very least, you might try one of the various free "ask a nurse" services offered by associations and hospitals in many states. Most are free to use (or will tell you up front if any cost is involved).

This site lists a few:
http://www.nursefriendly.com/nursing/directory/business/ask.a.nurse.get.live.health.medical.advice.htm

I don't endorse anything in particular there, but along with something like WebMD, it might be a starting point in at least confirming if your and her issues are just passing injuries or something more serious.
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walTer
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« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2011, 09:13:48 PM »

It costs about 25 bucks to sue in small claims.

You can sue for $7500.00.

You can pay extra to have the Sheriff serve the paperwork- I suggest you do.  If you win, you will get all your costs back as well.

Bring your witness.  Have your witness and you write out statements- make 4 copies and type them.
Bring photos- make 3 or 4 copies.
Estimate for bike.
If you missed work, a note from your employer
If you are hurt- ie cuts, scrapes, take photos of those as well

You cannot use a lawyer in Small Claims.  Plus you don't need one.  Go to the nearest courthouse to the accident- many courthouses have a Small Claims advisory group that helps you out.  But the paperwork is fairly simple.  You need their name address, etc...plus a sentence of what happened and how much you are suing for.

You are entitled to repairs, any other out of pocket expenses including time off from work or any items that may have been damaged besides the bike.
If you were hurt, ask for the remainder up to 7500 after you tally up all your costs.  You can be hurt and not go to the doctor but you need evidence of injuries and it is a bit harder but it can be done. Especially if you have no health insurance and the injuries are minor, if your option is the ER well explain to the judge that spending the day in the ER for cuts and bruises was not something that you felt was necessary.   The judge will decide was is fair based on what you give him and what you tell him.

Small claims is NOT a joke- if you get a judgement against a responsible party you can put a lien on the sale of their house or garnish wages...a judgement in Small Claims has the same strength as a judgement in Superior Court - just the money amount is smaller.

You must have an ID on the guy though.  If you only have the plate number, go to the police station right away with the  photos and file a counter report- explain what happened, and if they are cool they will take care of it for you...if they don't run the plate, you get a lesson- always call the police.

I hope that helps a bit too.
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Punisher
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« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2011, 03:26:31 AM »

Something else... When they run the plate, it will bring back the owner of the vehicle..supposedly "his cousin".... you may be able to file a claim and/or ticket against him for having an uninsured vehicle as well...
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Lyno
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« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2011, 10:16:34 AM »

WalTer:
I read up on the small claims process, but it helps to have specifics on what to bring to court. How would I quantify a dollar amount for extensive bruising? Just sue him for the max and the judge will deem what's fair? I also have his name and address straight from his driver's license (unless that's fake).

Punisher:
I reported him to the Inglewood police and to the CHP as an uninsured driver. The Inglewood police only cared about the license plate number. So I could also sue the owner of the vehicle ff it's not the same guy as the driver? Is the owner responsible because he's not insured?

-Lyno

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SkyLander
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« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2011, 03:31:58 PM »

Pretty sure you would have to go to the doctor first and then add the amount you payed for that to the claim....
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