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My car was totaled by an uninsured driver who ran off on foot after hitting me. Can I take legal action against him?

Stockton, CA |

I was stopped in traffic on the freeway because someone had broke down ahead of me. I was then rear ended by a cargo van who's driver didn't stop. After hitting me he took off on foot and left the van. He was uninsured and the van belonged to a relative of his. My car was totaled when I had just bought it 2 months ago. I still owe more than 1500 dlrs on it, and the insurance will only cover Actual Cash Value for the vehicle which leaves me with about 5000 dlrs that I will have to pay for a vehicle that is destroyed. I did not have GAP insurance otherwise I would have at least cut even in this situation. My question is, can I take legal action against this individual for my monetary loss? What steps do I take? I don't want to leave anyone in the street or in jail I just want what I lost.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. It is always terrible when someone does not take responsibility for their actions. But your situation may have a silver lining if you have uninsured motorist coverage. Check the language in your insurance policy or call your agent for help. Some policies require you get the other vehicle's license number, but most do not.

    If you handle this as an uninsured motorist claim then your insurance company will step into the shoes of how it would be handled if the other driver had insurance. The benefit is that as a policy payer, your insurance company must treat you better on your claim than you would get from the other driver's insurance company if she had one.

    Take what your insurance company will offer and then go after the uninsured driver for the difference. Be aware the other driver may have nothing to go after, which is sometimes called being judgment proof.

    If you were injured, seek medical attention immediately. If you decide to file a lawsuit for injury you must do so by the second anniversary of the accident or you will not be allowed into court. The same holds true for property damage, but you get a year loner, so file suit by the third anniversary of the accident.

    If you are a potential client, the information you disclose to us by email will be kept in strict confidence and will be protected to the full extent of the law. Please be advised, however, that the Law Offices of Frank M. Nunes, Inc. and its lawyers do not represent you until you have signed a retainer agreement with the firm. Until that time, you are responsible for any statutes of limitations or other deadlines for your case or potential case.


  2. I would not waste my time trying to find and/or sue the fleet footed deadbeat. Make a claim with your uninsured motorists (UM) coverage, and then your insurance company has to deal with trying to find him. That is why you pay your premiums.

    Good luck.

    DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.


  3. While suing a person who hits and runs may be futile, because it is likely that such a scoundrel is judgment proof (meaning he or she ain't got a dime), the police may be able to help by finding the driver and carrying through with criminal penalties that could include restitution (payments to the person hit). A call to the police and district attorney - and maybe a few follow up calls to be the squeaky wheel that gets greased - may be necessary for such a victim of a hit and run.

    - Paul

    Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.
    Attorney at Law, Physician, Broker
    Fransen&Molinaro;, LLP
    980 Montecito Drive, Suite 206
    Corona, CA 92879
    (951)520-9684
    www.fransenandmolinaro.com / www.888MDJDLAW.com
    "When you need a Lawyer, call the Doctor"

    ** This post and all others I make on Internet are for informational purposes only. None of the information or materials I post are legal advice. Nothing I post as comments, answers, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. While I try to be accurate, I do not guarantee accuracy.

    Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D. Attorney at Law, Physician, Broker Fransen&Molinaro;, LLP 980 Montecito Drive, Suite 206 Corona, CA 92879 (951)520-9684 www.FRANSENANDMOLINARO.com and www.888MDJDLAW.com “When you need a Lawyer, call the Doctor” ** This post and all others I make on Internet are for informational purposes only. None of the information or materials I post are legal advice. Nothing I post as comments, answers, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. While I try to be accurate, I do not guarantee accuracy.


  4. If you have Uninsured/Underinsured motorist provision in your auto insurance policy you can get a lawyer to sue your own company and get compensation for your personal property and medical bills, including pain and suffering.Best of luck

    This answer is provided by Manuel A. Juarez, Esq., aka El Abogado de Divocios de California: 510-206-4492. It is of a general context and is not intended to form an attorney client relationship. I am licensed only in California. This information is good only in California and it is not to be taken as legal advice on divorce, family matters, bankruptcy or in any other type of situation. Esta respuesta es del Abogado de Bancarrotas, Manuel A. Juárez, 510-206-4492. Abogado Hispano de Divorcios, Abogado Latino de Accidentes, y Abogado de Bancarrotas de Oakland, Hayward, San Francisco, y California. Estas respuesta son solo para información general y no consisten en consejo legal sobre divorcios, mantención de esposas, mantención de hijos o bancarrotas. Las respuestas son comentarios legales que no forman una relación de abogado y cliente. Manuel Juarez, Esq., esta licenciado solo en el Estado de California.

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