Skip to main content

Can I sue a driver who hit my motorcycle if her insurance is taking too long to pay

North Hollywood, CA |
Filed under: Lawsuits and disputes

I loaned my motorcycle to a friend who was legally riding it. She was hit on the freeway and there was a witness. The witness provided a statement to my insurance company the next day and my insurance determined the other party was 100 percent at fault. The drivers insurance company took 4 months to finally accept responsibilty, meanwhile the bike has accumalated storage fees at the shop they told me to bring it to for an estimate. Now that theyve finally contacted me they want to pay the minimum. Can I sue the driver and request, full compensation for the bike, storage fees, towing and punitive since I had to call the insurance company numerous times and speak to over 10 people to get anywhere.

Attorney Answers 6

Posted

Yes, you can certainly file a lawsuit against the driver, which will hopefully be the impetus for a speedy settlement.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.

Mark as helpful

8 lawyers agree

Posted

Depends on damages . A lawsuit may speed it up but can be expensive if it is just property damage claim. If Your claim is $10,000.00 or less you have an option to file a small claim and it will be decided in a single court hearing with a single Appeal.
You may want to give any members of this forum a call so you can discuss which one is your better option.

Mark as helpful

6 lawyers agree

Posted

Yes, you can sue the other driver. As noted, if your claim is for less than $10,000, you can file the suit yourself (without an attorney) in the small claims court. You can seek compensatory damages such as storage fees and towing, but it is doubtful you will recover punitive damages. Good luck.

This response is for information purpose only and does not constitute a legal advice. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Mark as helpful

9 lawyers agree

Posted

As my colleagues indicated, yes, you can sue the driver. The easiest thing for you to do, however, is to talk to your insurance company. Your carrier owes you a duty to repair your motorcycle, get it out of storage, etc. They also owe you a duty to deal with you in good faith.

There is no third party bad faith in California--that means that the other driver's insurance company does not have to deal with you in good faith, quickly settle your claim, or anything else.

While you can sue them, you have no grounds for punitive damages because there is no third-party bad faith in California. That is why, if there is no personal injury (you were not hurt) I recommend telling your carrier (in writing) about the difficulties you have had with the other driver's carrier and demanding that they fix your bike or pay you its full value, pay the storage and towing fees. Ask them to waive your deductible. Often they will do so. Insurance companies have a system of arbitration they use to collect between themselves, so your carrier will take care of you and then seek reimbursement from the other carrier.

I am licensed only in California and this response is provided as general information only. It is not intended to be legal advice. Legal advice must be based on the exact facts of the particular situation, and by necessity this forum is not appropriate for discussion of specific, exact facts. Contact a lawyer for more specific advice. My answer to your question on AVVO does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Mark as helpful

8 lawyers agree

5 comments

Asker

Posted

Catherine, Thank you so much for your response. Regarding my insurance company the issue is I dont have comprehensive coverage, I only have liability. I called my insurer and they said since I dont have comprehensive, I have to deal with it myself. I understand theres no requirement for 3rd party good faith in CA, however is the driver responsible to cover costs in a reasonable amount of time, therefore if her insurance company does not take care of it quickly she would be responsible to take care of it. Lastly, my friend who was riding the motorcycle was injured, Im not planning on suing together with her but thought Id mention it in case it changed the case at all.

Asker

Posted

Catherine, Thank you so much for your response. Regarding my insurance company the issue is I dont have comprehensive coverage, I only have liability. I called my insurer and they said since I dont have comprehensive, I have to deal with it myself. I understand theres no requirement for 3rd party good faith in CA, however is the driver responsible to cover costs in a reasonable amount of time, therefore if her insurance company does not take care of it quickly she would be responsible to take care of it. Lastly, my friend who was riding the motorcycle was injured, Im not planning on suing together with her but thought Id mention it in case it changed the case at all.

Catherine Elizabeth Bennett

Catherine Elizabeth Bennett

Posted

The driver is responsible to pay your damages; her insurance carrier is responsible to her to defend and indemnify her for those damages. There is no hard rule for time within which to pay damages, so there is no basis for making a claim of additional compensation merely for delay. You are able to claim loss of use, which continues until the bike is paid for or returned to you, operable. But you are also responsible for mitigating your damages--meaning doing all you can to keep damages as low as possible. Usually that includes removing the vehicle to less expensive storage, or taking it to your home where you do not have to pay storage, and obtaining another vehicle to use to stop loss of use damages from accruing. Realize that a lawsuit might actually cause the delay to be longer. But if your total damages are less than $10,000, small claims is a good way to go.

Asker

Posted

Do I have to go with the numbers the insurance company comes up with. For example they said because my motorcycle has a salvage title it is worth 1000 dollars less, however in the real market that is not in fact true. I own a motorcycle shop and I sell salvage motorcycles for close to the same price if they are in good condition. Since it is commonly known, to replace parts on motorcycles is so costly, it is usually cheaper for the insurance companies to " total loss" the bike and therefore they become "salvaged" for minor damages. I had also put many aftermarket parts on the bike that were damaged and I would like to be compensated for them. To sum it up, Im asking for 5000 and they want to pay 3000, and it took them 4 months to finally call me to even discusee it. One last question, I just got a letter yesterday from the " Judge Alex" show inviting me to go on, do you think its a good idea to go on or not?. Thank you so much for your time, I really do appreciate it. Mak

Catherine Elizabeth Bennett

Catherine Elizabeth Bennett

Posted

Make a counter offer. Explain why you believe the bike is worth more than they are offering and itemize the after-market stuff you put on and its value. Make your counter in writing. I won't opine on whether you should go on the Judge Alex show. Consider the offer they made and decide if it is worth your time.

Posted

Yes, you can sue the other driver. As previously indicated, if the damages are under ten thousand dollars, small claims court is the fastest way to go. Good Luck

Mark as helpful

4 lawyers agree

Posted

Unfortunately, many inurance adjustors fail to communicate with claimants. It seems as though you may have found one of those adjustors. You may sue the other driver for your property damage. If your property damage is $10,000.00 or less, you can sue in small claims court. However, you will not be able to recover punitive damages for your property damage claim.

Mark as helpful

2 lawyers agree

Lawsuits and disputes topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics