Should I sue someone with no apparent assets or settle?

Asked 10 months ago - San Diego, CA

I was hit as a pedestrian on a green crosswalk by a retired public defender. The police report says he violated right of way and was physically handicap. He may have MS and apparently no other assets but for a 15k insurance policy. I am now being asked to release his liability for 15k. I had two major surgeries, I fractured my shoulder, thoracic spine, neck, ribs, and pelvis. I'm 28 yrs. old without insurance.
I don't want to sign the release form but I also don't want the driver to declare bankruptcy on me.
The policeman reporting the accident told me the driver's license may be taken away.
Thank you in advance.

Attorney answers (12)

  1. Albert Lee Crosner

    Contributor Level 18

    20

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I would strongly consider retaining a personal injury attorney here in California. Actually, any California personal injury attorney can assist you. Most provide a free initial consultation. You might want to talk to a couple and then retain one that is experienced and you feel comfortable in working with. I note that you indicated that "I'm 28 yrs. old without insurance", but could not tell if you meant medical insurance, automobile insurance or whatever. You should retain a personal injury attorney to investigate all possible choices before you accept the $15,000. Know what the choices are before doing so. I was truly sorry to hear of your injuries and I hope you have a speedy recovery. Best of luck.

    Mr. Crosner is licensed to practice law in California and has been practicing law in California since 1978. The... more
  2. Peter A. Zamoyski

    Contributor Level 6

    18

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . As a San Diego personal injury attorney, it is critical to perform an asset search of the potential defendant. Otherwise, how can you make an informed decision? If the person truly has no assets, then the defendant's insurance, and potentially your own insurance, are the avenues left to you. [removed]

    No attorney-client relationship exists based on the interchange of information provided. Please note: An attorney-... more
  3. Alan Ray Barnes

    Contributor Level 18

    17

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The first question to answer is whether you have any coverage available. In California, the uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage provided by your auto policy follows you even when you're not in your car. And it isn't just your own auto policy that might cover you. If you are covered under a substantial UM / UIM policy, it may not matter that the at-fault driver's insurance was minimal.

    If you aren't covered under a UM / UIM policy, it's important to find out whether there are any other insurance policies that might cover the at-fault driver. And you need to know what his assets are.

    Long story short, the issues become fairly complicated fairly quickly. You should retain a good personal injury lawyer to help you through this process.

  4. Christopher John Gansen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    17

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Get a lawyer who can do an asset search. A retired PD may have a pension, after all. I don't think you should rush into the release without due diligence.

  5. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    18

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Best not to play lawyer, but you should retain one. A local personal injury lawyer should investigate all coverage. Avvo has a terrific "find a lawyer' tool to find a top-rated Avvo lawyer with a low contingency fee. Good luck.

  6. C. Donald Briggs III

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    17

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You should discuss this with a local personal injury attorney. You could take the insurance policy limits of 15k and then pursue an underinsured motorist claim with your own insurer if you have this kind of coverage.

  7. Lee Alan Thompson

    Contributor Level 20

    17

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It's not a question of suing right now, unless the statute of limitations is almost up, but am a matter of seeing an personal injury first. There may be other sources of insurance to consider. You should be able to get a free initial consultation.

    Attorneys on Avvo donate their time and your feedback is appreciated. Be sure to mark the "Best Answer" or Helpful"... more
  8. Roger Stone Reynolds

    Pro

    Contributor Level 12

    15

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You should consult with a personal injury attorney who will conduct an assets check on this individual. If he has no assets and you are limited to the policy limit of his liability policy, you should examine your auto policy to see if you have underinsured motorist (uninsured motorist) limits above 15/30 on your declaration page. As a pedestrian you can use your own auto policy for this purpose. Further, you can look to the UIM/UM policy of any resident relative living in the same household.

  9. Paul J Molinaro

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    10

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The 15k minimum amount of insurance required in California sounds like a great (meaning cheapo) way of getting insurance... but is a paltry amount when a claim is made. While there sometimes is nothing more than can be done should a defendant truly have no attachable assets or attachable income (pensions are very well insulated from judgments... if there's any doubt, look at the OJ civil case), but an experienced personal injury attorney will investigate other potential defendants... employer, car owner, mechanic of car, maker of car, and... should the at fault driver be on medications of suffering an illness that makes driving hazardous.... the driver's doctor could be roped in.... and of course, a good asset search on the defendant would be a must... attorney's, good ones anyway, actually do earn they money... they are not just paper filers looking to get a big chunk of the recovery... they are responsible for the recovery.

    - Paul

    Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.
    Attorney at Law, Physician

    Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D. Attorney at Law, Physician Fransen & Molinaro, LLP 4160 Temescal Canyon Road,... more
  10. Robert Bruce Kopelson

    Contributor Level 20

    10

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . In addition to all the other responses, have an atty investigate whether there is any way to find and bring in another deft, such as the city/county/state that controls the roadway. Perhaps there is a problem wit the design, etc.

  11. Manuel Alzamora Juarez

    Contributor Level 20

    9

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Do not sign anything without talking to an attorney. Best of luck.

    This answer is provided by California Auto Accident Attorney Manuel A. Juarez, Esq., These answers are not... more
  12. Joseph Franklin Pippen Jr.

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    8

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . In addition to the many other answers-if you do get a judgement-it could be a tool to lien assets later.

    The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of... more

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