Which court do i file a personal injury lawsuit arising from car accident in CA state

Asked about 6 years ago - Huntington Beach, CA

Can I sue an uninsured individual who rear ended my vehicle in Small Claims Court even though I am being reimbursed by my personal uninsured motorists insurance? Will the judge ask me why I expect to be reimbursed twice?

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Jon Mitchell Jackson

    Contributor Level 14

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Yes you can!

    You can bring a small claims action for up to $7,500.00 in Small Claims Court. But why take the time to do so?

    If the responsible party is in fact uninsured, simply send a letter to your insurance company asking them to setup a UM and/or UIM claim. Once you are done treating with your doctor(s), put a demand letter together (facts, injuries, damages, bills, photos…) and send it to your company with a settlement demand. If you are able to get your case resolved, then great!

    In California, your own insurance company may not legally raise your rates simply because you pursued a good faith UM claim.

    If your injuries are relatively minor (and you are sure of this), then you can probably handle the case on your own. If you are unsure of the true extent of your injuries or if your injuries are serious, you should be represented by an experienced attorney. Most good lawyer will assist you on a contingency fee basis (no recovery no fee) and most experienced lawyers can help you maximize the true value of your case which will more than offset the legal fees.

    There are strict time limits to file actions and claims (2 years in CA for a motor vehicle accident) and so make sure you have all critical dates protected. Bottom line, probably best to contact legal counsel.

    Hope this helps!

    The above information is provided for discussion purposes only. Jackson & Wilson, Inc. and its attorneys believe in helping people and answering their questions and providing information and solutions. To encourage and facilitate this practice, it is understood and agreed by the recipient that by opening, reading and viewing this information, no attorney-client relationship has been discussed, agreed to or otherwise established. In legal matters, time is of the essence. As such, you should contact an experienced lawyer right away to protect your legal rights!

    Best Regards,

    Jon Mitchell "Mitch" Jackson
    Jackson & Wilson, Inc.
    23161 Mill Creek Drive, Ste 150
    Laguna Hills, CA 92653
    Tel No. 949.855.8751
    Fax No. 949.855.8752
    Email: mjackson@jacksonwilson.com
    Website: www.jacksonwilson.com
    Law Blawg: www.injurylawblawg.com

  2. Edward Albert Smith

    Pro

    Contributor Level 10

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . No, you absolutely cannot. When you settle an Uninsured Motorist Lawsuit, you assign your rights to recover to your UM insurance company to the extent you received compensation from them.

    The UM carrier has the right to pursue this individual now, not you.

    It's possible you could get consent of the UM carrier to pursue the UM driver in Small Claims, but its doubtful.

    I am in disagreement with the other attorney's here who claim you can sue.

  3. Bruce David Abel

    Contributor Level 10

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . A personal injury action should be filed in the venue where the incident took place. Small claims would be appropriate if the amount in controversy is within the limits for small claims. If the person you want to sue is uninsured, even if you get a judgment, you will likely have difficulty obtaining satisfaction of judgment. If you have been made whole by the insurance company, then the insurance company is subrograted (stands in your shoes) with regard to suing the person who casused the accident. You would be able to sue for any damages for which you were not compensated.

  4. David Carl Beyersdorf

    Contributor Level 13

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . If you have already been paid by your insurance company under your uninsured policy, you have effectively assigned your right to sue the third party to your insurance carrier. If you have only had your medical bills paid under your medical benefits policy, you may still be able to go after the third party civilly. Most insurance companies will then require that you reimburse them for what they have paid. Good Luck

    David C. Beyersdorf

  5. Elizabeth Taylor Herd

    Pro

    Contributor Level 19

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . You should consult a laywer licensed in California, however, in many states such as Florida- UM is considered an insurance of last resort and is above and beyond the wrongdoers coverage. What this means to you, if this is the case in CA is that the wrongdoer doesn't get credit or a setoff for your own coverage.

    Do remember that it is very difficult to collect from an uninsured individual. And, if you have collected something other than UM coverage- such as medical payments coverage or some type of personal injury protection coverage there may be a right to set those payments off from what the wrongdoer should pay you.

    Betsey Herd
    Morgenstern & Herd, P.A.
    Tampa, Florida

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