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Allister Rex Liao

Allister Liao’s Answers

115 total

  • Do I have a case? Punitive damages?

    My parked car got totaled by a reckless driver overnight. My parked car hit a second parked car. The driver fled the scene and 2 passenger stayed to exchange insurance info. Police report was done. Police couldn't make him talk in detail because h...

    Allister’s Answer

    Problem = Damaged Property (in your case a damaged car).
    Solution = Money for (A) Repairs or (B) Market Value -- whichever is less.

    How you go from Problem == to ==> Solution is your choice. Each has it's own Pros & Cons and Risks. You should learn about them and understand the situation that you're facing before making a decision. Therefore, speaking with an attorney is a good first step. Here is a non-exhaustive list of possible options available:

    (Option #1) Least Effort - If you have comprehensive insurance, then you can submit to your own insurance company and have them resolve this for you.

    (Option #2) Some Effort - If you do not have comprehensive insurance, then you can submit a claim with the driver or owner's insurance of the car that struck you.

    (Option #3) Most Effort - Filing a complaint in court and having your claim adjudicated.

    Going back to your questions...

    Yes, you can seek to obtain compensation from the owner of the vehicle. In California, the non-driving owner of a vehicle is responsible for damages if they give permission for someone else to drive. This is called "Permissive Use."

    And, yes, you can sue the driver that fled but you'll need to identify the driver somehow.

    Best of luck to you!

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  • Can I sue for my rental car if it was a hit in run accident?

    I was involved in a accident and the driver took off, I was able to get a license plate, and a police report. My insurance stated they were found at fault and my deductible is waived but not my rental car (4 day repair job), can I sue for my renta...

    Allister’s Answer

    Yes, you can sue for the cost of your rental car. It's technically referred to as "Loss of Use of Personal Property" -- take a look at California Civil Jury Instruction, Number 3903M. I've linked a copy of the instruction for your reading below, and copied the relevant language here...

    "To recover damages for loss of use, PLAINTIFF must prove the reasonable cost to rent a similar CAR for the amount of time reasonably necessary to repair or replace the CAR."

    Best of luck to you!

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  • How long does/should a car accident and medical bills investigation by the other side's insurance company take? (California)

    Car accident victim. Other party 100% liable. Sent demand letter to liable party's insurance company. Insurance then requests I send in a HIPAA form, which I did. Now they tell me to wait until they finish their investigation, but tells me they c...

    Allister’s Answer

    It's typically not a good idea to sign any authorizations/releases or any other forms that the insurance company sends to you without first having the document(s) reviewed by an attorney. Why? Because, generally speaking, these releases do not have any limitations on the scope of information.

    What does that mean? The HIPPA form that you signed probably entitles the insurance carrier to obtain your complete medical history, regardless of time, type of treatment, or area of body. Do you really want the insurance company to have unrestrained access to all your private health information? This is not only an invasion to your private health information but possibly detrimental to your personal injury case as well.

    First thing is to consider revoking (in writing) any and all authorizations/releases that you've already provided the insurance carrier. The hope is they haven't already obtained said information.

    Going back to your question...

    The delay is unreasonable whenever you think it's unreasonable. In other words, there's no set standard. If you're on this attorney Q&A forum, then it's probably already long past unreasonable. But, the real task at hand is to explore your options.

    Your Options...

    You can continue to wait indefinitely for a response from the insurance company (don't hold your breath and don't expect a reasonable offer either). Or, you can file your claim(s) in court.

    Talk to some attorneys to educate yourself and understand what your rights are, what the process is, and what to expect. Best of luck to you!

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  • Car accident repair & rental questions.

    Involved in multiple car accidents and my car is in the front of the line w/ the hardest hit:( It seems like the other parties are taking a long time to do investigation in order to accept liability on damages. I do not have full coverage(got liab...

    Allister’s Answer

    There are two general categories of things that you should be aware of in these type of cases:
    (1) Personal Injury and (2) Property Damage.

    Your question focuses on Property Damage, so my response will address that only. Just be sure to educate yourself regarding your rights as it relates to a personal injury claim as well.

    Yes, you can bring your car to a repair shop and have it repaired at your own cost first. Before you do that, you should understand what you are entitled to under the law.

    You are entitled to the lesser of the (A) cost of repair or (B) fair market value of your vehicle. (Check out CACI 3903J).

    Step 1) Get a general sense of what your car is worth, check out the various online sources that are publicly available (i.e.;;;; etc.).

    Step 2) Take your car to a couple/few/several body shops to get repair estimates. This is typically free.

    Step 3) Compare the value of your car versus the repair estimates.

    Step 4) If the cost of repair exceeds the value of your car, then it is effectively a total loss. You would be entitled to the value of your car. On the other hand, if the cost of repair is less than the value of your car, then you would be entitled to the cost of repair.

    There's a California Civil Jury Instruction that specifically addresses this type of damage. It's actually called "Loss of Use of Personal Property." (Check out CACI 3903M). It says that you can recover damages for loss of use for the amount of time reasonably necessary to repair or replace the vehicle.

    In other words, you are entitled to have a rental car for the period of time it takes to repair/replace your car (depending on whether it's deemed a total loss or not). Obviously you can't drag your feet and take forever to do this, but there isn't a technical timeline that you must follow. Whatever a "reasonable" person would do in the situation is the yardstick.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: Everything above about what you are entitled to (both repair/replace and rental) assumes that you are not at fault - not even partially. If you are partially at fault, then you must reduce what you are entitled to by your percentage of fault. If you are completely at fault, then you are not entitled to anything.

    Hope everything above makes sense, and best of luck to you!

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  • Got rear ended, need clarification on whose insurance carrier to contact

    Got rear ended involving 2 other cars in a freeway. My car is in the front which absorbs all the impact and got wrecked. I only carry liability. Now my question is, whose insurance carrier I should contact for claims? Is it the car who rear ended ...

    Allister’s Answer


    (1) Your own insurance company will not do anything for you unless one of the other drivers files an insurance claim (or lawsuit) against you. This scenario, however, is unlikely based on the facts that you have described.

    (2) You should file an insurance claim against the driver(s) who "caused" the incident. There can be more than one contributing "causes" to a single accident, so get the facts straight as to how you recall how the incident happened. Obtain a copy of the police report. Do not give a statement to any insurance company. Take photographs of the property damage to your car. Obtain repair estimates for your car. In other words, gather all evidence that you can now to prevent them from potentially disappearing and becoming impossible to prove later.

    (3) You should immediately seek medical treatment if you have been injured. Also take photographs of injuries that are visible (bruises, cuts, bandages, etc.). Follow all recommendations of your physicians.

    (4) Speak with several personal injury attorneys to educate yourself about the law and what your rights are. There is no obligation to use any of the attorneys that you speak with, but it is absolutely imperative that you at least have a working base of knowledge of what to expect, what to watch out for, and what to do - these are things that attorneys can provide you over the phone (most do this for free).

    Best of luck to you!

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  • The car accident wasn't my fault: Should I disclose the bodily injury limits of my insurance policy?

    I was involved in an accident almost one year ago. I was turning left, and the other driver ran the red light from the opposite direction (naturally, he claimed his light was still green). It was his word against mine, and there was not enough evi...

    Allister’s Answer


    Prior to litigation, policy limits are not required to be disclosed (i.e. disclosure is voluntary). On the other hand, once you are a party to a personal injury lawsuit, certain insurance information (including policy limits) must be disclosed when requested through discovery.

    So practically speaking, if you refuse to disclose policy limits now you are forcing the other party to sue you to obtain that information through the legal process.

    Again, disclosure prior to litigation is voluntary. In making that decision, just keep in mind the potential consequence of refusal.


    Fault is not determined by you, the other party, insurance adjusters, or attorneys. You, the other party, insurance adjuster, and attorneys all have "opinions" on what fault might be.

    The only people that determine fault are the trier of fact (judge or jury).

    So, what's the purpose of an attorney? Attorneys can educate you regarding the law, help you understand how evidence may affect your case, tell you what options are available, explain possible consequences, give you "probable" outcomes, help negotiate a settlement, etc. etc. etc.

    Best of luck to you!

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  • My friend hit someone with a shovel after the person came on his property and threatened him. Isn't that self defense?

    A person entered the property of my friend and grabbed a pitchfork and began waving it at my friend and threatening his life. After repeatedly asking the person to leave and calling the police my friend grabbed a shovel to defend himself. When he ...

    Allister’s Answer

    You should understand that there can be more than one related case that stem from the same incident. These cases could be in two different courts:

    In the criminal case (if there is one), the district attorney may decide to prosecute against your friend for hitting the other person in the head with a shovel. As it relates to these potential charges, your friend should consult with a criminal defense attorney. Self-defense is one theory of defense that your attorney will likely explore with you. There may be other theories available.

    In the civil case (if there is one), the person that was hit in the head may have suffered injuries for which he may decide to bring claims against your friend for compensation. As it relates to these claims, your friend should consult with an attorney. The Doctrine of Imminent Peril is a theory of defense that your attorney will likely explore with you. There may be other theories available.

    These are theories that defendants to a lawsuit bring to excuse certain conduct. Whether or not they actually excuse your friend's conduct depends on the trier of fact.

    What does that mean? An attorney presents the theories of defense and the evidence of the case. The trier of fact (judge or jury) makes the final decision. No one knows who the triers of fact will be or how they will react to the evidence in your case. So, unfortunately no one here can definitely answer the question that you've presented.

    Gather evidence that corroborates your story - videos, photos, witness statements, objects, documents, things, etc. Generally speaking, the more evidence that you have that suggests that the other person illegally trespassed, made threats, waved a pitchfork, etc., the more likely your friend will win.

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  • In a hit and run, who is liable for damage to the victim's car - the owner or driver of the offending car?

    I was hit by a speeding driver while pulling into a loading zone parking space. Bystanders got photos of the fleeing car including the plate #. But no one saw the driver. I have a police report that states the other person is at fault. The of...

    Allister’s Answer

    The police officer is probably correct, but only as it applies to the criminal case. There are different standards when it comes to civil cases.

    A car owner's liability exists if (1) he/she was driving the car, (2) gave permission to someone else to drive the car, or (3) somehow contributed to cause the accident (i.e. he/she was passenger and distracted the driver).

    The insurance company's obligations originate from the contract (the insurance policy). So, it depends on (1) what type of insurance and (2) how much coverage you bought.

    Based on your facts, you state that you do not have collision coverage. That means the insurance company does not have an obligation to pay for property damage to your car. That also means they are not obligated to pursue anything on your behalf.

    On the other hand, if you had purchased collision coverage, then your insurance company would be obligated to pay for the repair costs associated with the damage to your vehicle. Extending from that obligation would be the insurance company's interest to recover those costs from whoever caused the damage. In other words, the insurance company pursues the other driver because they want their money back that they paid to you.

    So, turning back to your situation, since your insurance company didn't pay you anything by way of contract, they have no interest in pursuing the other driver.


    Since you do not have collision coverage, you cannot realistically expect your insurance company to do anything (you didn't contract for or pay for that coverage).

    You are left with a couple options/considerations:
    (1) Pursue an insurance claim against the other party's insurance company; OR
    (2) Pursue a civil action against the owner of the car.

    I hope the situation makes more sense now. Best of luck to you!

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  • I fell and was injured in my front yard (apartment), where should I go from there?

    On Monday morning (8/11/14) my boyfriend and I left our apartment to run an errand. We headed for the sidewalk, and on my way I tripped and fell in a hole in the grass. The hole is about 4 inches deep, and as wide as a basketball covered with gras...

    Allister’s Answer

    It sounds like you're doing all the right things. Continue to monitor your medical condition and follow your doctors' advice. You may consider keeping a journal that documents how the injuries are affecting your daily life in terms of pain, mobility, activities, etc.

    Take photos and videos of the dangerous condition to properly document it before it is altered. Someone made a great suggestion about placing a ruler in the photo to help document size. Take close-ups and overview shots.

    I'm pretty sure you're tired of hearing this, but it's really the best thing to do - speak to personal injury attorneys.

    Why do we keep saying this? Well, if you were injured and wanted a diagnosis of your injuries, then people would tell you to see a doctor. Since you're looking for a diagnosis of your legal claims, then naturally the advice is to speak with attorneys -- personal injury attorneys.

    I wish you the best of luck in both medical and legal recovery!

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  • Falling in private parking lot with major injuries

    Grandfather fall on a store parking lot, trip on the curb of the planter area. The parking lot is in very bad condition so I thought It would be better to park by the curb , unfortunately for avoiding a bad parking spot he trip anyway causing m...

    Allister’s Answer

    Here are some thoughts...

    (1) Take photographs of the area that your grandfather fell, including close-up and overview shots. It probably also makes sense to make a video since it's so easy these days to use your smartphone.

    (2) Make a list of all witnesses that might have seen what happened, including name, address, and phone.

    (3) Write down the address of where the incident occurred.

    (4) Make note of signs that might help you identify who the owner/manager of the property.

    (5) Gather all documents, photos, videos, bills, records, etc. and call to speak with personal injury attorneys regarding this potential case.

    Best of luck to you and I wish your grandfather a speedy recovery!

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