How do I began a small claims suit against an uninsured driver who damaged my vehicle?

Asked over 4 years ago - Phoenix, AZ

Guy hit me and he had no insurance. My medical was covered with my insurance company but the damages to my vehicle was not. Ive tried contacting the driver many times and he has just blown me off. Now I need to take him to court but I don't know what to do or how to start it.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Gil Shuga

    Contributor Level 10

    Answered . Unfortunately, many drivers who do not carry mandatory car insurance also do not have any assets from which you could easily collect a judgment. You may end up doing a lot of work for very little return.

    But, if you want to file a claim for $10k or less you may do so in small claims court. Look up the local Justice Court for your area. The on-line site (http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/JusticeCo...) has lost of helpful info on how to start the process. Keep in mind that the clerks can not give you legal advice so you really are on your own.

    If you file suit you will still have to win your case and get a judgment, or get a default judgment. Then you have to try to collect that.

    Only you can decide if this process will be worthwhile for you. It involves some time and possible frustration. But you do have the right and opportunity to protect your rights.

    Good luck.

    Gil Shuga
    Law Office of Gil Shuga
    Mesa AZ
    480-854-4766

  2. Mark P Breyer

    Pro

    Contributor Level 10

    Answered . First, the fact that the at-fault driver lacked insurance, if true, does not relieve him of his legal responsibility to you. If he has assets (money you can collect or things he owns that you could recover from) then it could be worth considering a small claims/justice court suit.

    Second, the fact that he is avoiding you does not eliminate the possibility that he may have insurance. It is unlikely he has insurance, but a lawsuit may help flush out any insurance he is withholding while hoping that you simply "go away" and he moves on with his life.

    Finally, consider the potential downside of your claim. Every minute you spent in pursuit of this person, and the money you must spend to file your lawsuit and serve it on this defendant - is worthless unless there is actually a way to recover from this individual.

    If you car was worth quite a bit of money and the cost of repair is high enough, it may be worth pursuing. However, give careful consideration about the downside. Otherwise, you can end up winning the case and obtaining a judgment against the other driver . . . but there may be no money to pay the judgment.

    While it is of no help for this time around, if at all possible you will want to purchase extra coverage from your insurance carrier in the future. I do understand this can be expensive and may not be possible. However, in this case you walked away unharmed. Consider the ramifications if this same person had caused a more serious injury and had not had any insurance.

    Purchasing collission coverage is a start, and that will protect your vehicle. More importantly, purchase Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) on all future policies. The UM and UIM you purchase is far less expensive that most coverages, and it protects you, your loved ones, and those that ride in your vehicle. The other insurance you currently carry, unfortunately, protects your assets, but does not protect those closest to you.

  3. Matthew A. Kane

    Contributor Level 12

    Answered . You should consult with a personal injury attorney. Unless you maxed them out, or signed a release, the uninsurance benefits of your own auto policy (I assume that is the policy you refer to as covering your medical expenses) probably also provide you with coverage for pain and suffering, lost wages, etc.

    Regarding the small claims suit, try calling the court clerk in the civil/small claims office. They are, in my area of the country, anyway, typically knowledgeable, friendly, and willing to point first timers in the right direction.

    Good luck!

    Matt

    DISCLAIMER:
    I am an attorney licensed to practice in Massachusetts, and only in Massachusetts. This post is intended only as a general discussion of legal principles. This post is not intended to solicit or provide legal services, nor is it intended to create and attorney-client relationship. You should not rely on any information posted on this site regarding your specific situation until you have consulted with a qualified attorney. Under rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and other rules, this communication may be considered advertising.

  4. S Edmond ElDabe

    Contributor Level 13

    Answered . Go to http://www.supreme.state.az.us/info/brochures/s...


    All the small claims information is there.

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