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Should I sue someone with no apparent assets or settle?

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. 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.


  2. 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-client relationship cannot exist with Mr. Zamoyski and his law firm unless there is a fully-executed written retainer agreement by attorney and client. Information provided here is not intended to constitute legal advice, but is informational only.


  3. 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 response herein is general legal and business analysis.. It is not intended nor construed to be "legal advice" but rather it is analysis, and different lawyers may analyze this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.


  4. 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" to your questions.


  5. 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. 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.


  7. 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.


  8. 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. 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, Suite 306 Corona, CA 92833 (951)520-9684 www.fransenandmolinaro.com / www.888MDJDLAW.com "When you need a lawyer, call the Doctor... Call Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D... Call (888)MDJDLAW." * 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. ** Fransen & Molinaro, LLP practices in the areas of defective drug and medical device litigation (Actos, Accutane, Actonel, Antidepressants, Avandia, Bextra, Byetta, DePuy Hip Implant, Digitek, Ephedra, Fosamax, Gadolinium, GranuFlo, Guidant Implantable Defibrillators, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), Ketek, Kugel Mesh Patch, Lipitor, Mesothelioma, Nuvaring, Ortho Evra, Paxil, Pradaxa, Prempro, Prisma Dialysis Recall, Reglan, ReNu with MoistureLoc, Smith and Nephew Hip Replacement, Stryker Hip Replacement, Tequin, Topamax, Transvaginal Mesh, Trasylol, Vioxx, Yaz, Zelnorm, Zimmer Durom, Zyprexa, and More), medical malpractice, personal injury, and real estate law and does so anywhere in the State of California. *** If you enjoy my posts, enjoyed a consultation with me, or are a happy satisfied client, please give me an Avvo recommendation/review.


  10. 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. 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 intended to form an attorney client relationship. Manuel Juarez. Esq., is licensed only in California. He practices in Antioch, Berkeley, Concord, Oakland, Hayward, Martinez, Newark, Richmond, San Francisco and San Rafael. This information is good only in California and it is not to be taken as legal advice on car accidents, personal injury, divorce, bankruptcy or in any other type of situation. Esta respuesta es del Abogado de Accidentes de Autos, Abogado de Lesiones Personales, Abogado de Heridos en Accidentes de carros, Manuel A. Juárez, Abogado Hispano de Accidentes, Abogado de Divorcios, Abogado Latino de Accidentes, Abogado de Accidentes de Oakland, Hayward, San Francisco, 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. El abogado de lesiones y heridos en accidentes de autos, Manuel A. Juarez es licenciado solo en California.


  12. 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 action is to have legal representation in this matter.

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