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

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

Posted

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. Any statements are made for general informational purposes and do not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client privilege is created by this communication. Attorney is licensed in California only.

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Posted

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 into a written agreement signed by both you and I.

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4 comments

Gordon Ralph Levinson

Gordon Ralph Levinson

Posted

Another con is that you would waive your right to claim more than $10,000 by filing in Small Claims Court.

Robert Bruce Kopelson

Robert Bruce Kopelson

Posted

Check the code, 7500 max in auto BI claim if deft has ins. Nice little exception for the ins industry. You can get more for the damage to your car, than you can for damage to your body!

Asker

Posted

My atty said he's "lost" without his high pressuring negotiator - the guy who died in the midst of my case. Current atty is a Mormon who doesn't want to "rock the boat" w/the insurance company. Said HE won't fight it in court because it will take him all day and cost him a lot of money. Also, he said Mercury is too tough to deal with - best I go this route alone. I can bring you the file and you can look at it? I say we fight and atty would gladly give up my file to get me off his back! He'd rather roll over and play dead; that's why he HIRED a steel willed negotiator, I bet.

Gordon Ralph Levinson

Gordon Ralph Levinson

Posted

Your best bet is to find someone in Los Angeles. Thanks, and good luck!

Posted

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 it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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14 lawyers agree

Posted

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.

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Posted

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 may not be applicable in your jurisdiction. Answers posted to Avvo are for general information only. Do not conclusively rely on any information posted online when deciding what to do about your case. Every case depends is fact dependent, and responses are limited to and is based on the information you posted. No attorney-client relationship shall be created through the use reading of this response on Avvo. You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information in this response.

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12 lawyers agree

Posted

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.

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9 lawyers agree

Posted

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

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