SHOULD I GO TO SMALL CLAIMS COURT & FIGHT FOR COMPENSATIONS IN AN AUTO ACCIDENT? OTHER DRIVER AT FAULT

Asked almost 2 years ago - West Hollywood, CA

Was in a car accident 4/12; -witnesses present; other driver admitted fault his insurance company - Mercury. I hired an atty & began receiving medical care. Mercury was on board to pay these costs except in the midst of our negotiations w/them, my atty's key negotiator DIED. Immediately upon learning this, Mercury started dragging their heals. They paid $6K for auto damages but only offering $5K for medical/injuries that i sustained; this barely even covers Dr expenses. Atty says i should go to small claims court; insists I have a better chance in front of judge. How would that work and would i have a greater chance of getting a fair settlement? Atty insists Mercury's tough & repping myself increases my chances of compensation. What are the pros and cons of going it alone in court?

Attorney answers (7)

  1. Robert Edward Myers

    Contributor Level 14

    14

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It is hard to say without reviewing your medical records. It sounds like Mercury is accepting that they must pay your damages and the only issue they have is the amount of the bills that you have racked up going to the doctor. If you have over 5K in medical bills then it might be worth asking for more than what is permitted in Small Claims Court. Having said that, it depends on what those medical bills are for and what your reports say. If your attorney has said he does not want to assist you anymore, then I would recommend meeting with another attorney to review your medical records and give you their opinion.

    This answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on as each situation is fact specific, and... more
  2. Sean Michael Patrick

    Contributor Level 17

    12

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You should NOT proceed on your own. You should retain a personal injruy attorney IMMEDIATELY. I dont know who told you to go to small claims court, but based on my experience, small claims court is not a good forum for wronged plaintiffs. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you recover not only for your actual medical bills but also for the pain, and suffering that you have experienced. Remember, Mecury wants to keep their money, even when they should rightfully pay the claim.
    Hope this helps. I'm happy to answer any other questions that you might have. Best of luck.

    I am licensed in California, therefore, my answers are based on general prinicpals of law or California law, which... more
  3. Charles William Franklin

    Contributor Level 14

    13

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . That's really a somewhat strange assertion from your attorney unless they intend to withdraw from the case and not claim any lien for attorney's fees or expenses. You don't make it clear if your attorney discharged you or you discharged them, but in any state, you are entitled to do so and should immediately consult with another personal injury attorney in your area. Depending on the factors concerning liability and the severity of your injuries, you might be better of having a lawsuit filed in your behalf or attending pre-suit mediation. Again, immediately consult with another attorney in your area if the attorney you mention is no longer on the case.

  4. Constantine D. Buzunis

    Contributor Level 17

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . Sounds like either your lawyer has lost interest in your case and/or you have lost confidence in them? I would suggest you meet with an experienced auto injury lawyer that will fight hard for you and that will be willing to take the case to trial if Mercury doesn't make a reasonable offer. This is typical insurance company tactics ever since they did away with third party bad faith claims! Normally you should recover at least 2 or 3 times the amount of your special damages, although the insurance companies will never admit that to you! Small Claims limit is not enough for you to get what you need also taking into account your old lawyer will likely claim some fees and costs advanced on your behalf, unless he is agreeing to forego any payment to get rid of you? Get a trial lawyer and take Mercury to task and force them to pay a reasonable amount!

    Legal disclaimer:This message does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.... more
  5. Robert Bruce Kopelson

    Contributor Level 20

    9

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Small claims max in Calif for injuries in auto accident when deft has insurance, is 7500.00, not 10k. Who says the insurance industry doesnt have a strong lobby in Sacramento? Talk to another atty, to see if anyone thinks this is bif enough to justify litigating in superior court.

  6. Timothy Leo Bowden

    Contributor Level 14

    10

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . i would never advise going it alone. contact a local attorney and get advice who contributes here

  7. Gordon Ralph Levinson

    Contributor Level 14

    8

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The pros are that small claims court just raised its jurisdictional maximum to $10,000, and many Commissioners are pro-plaintiff, so you are likely to get more than $5,000, especially with a $6,000 impact, which is significant. The cons are that no attorneys are allowed, so you would have to do it yourself, and Mercury has the right to appeal. Good luck!

    Answering your question does not make me your lawyer. No attorney-client relationship is created until we enter... more
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