Who to sue in small claims court in CA, driver, owner of car/insurance policy or both?

Asked over 1 year ago - San Jose, CA

I was rear ended on a parking area with est. damage of ~$1k. The driver seemed to be the son of the vehicle owner(who is not in the scene at that moment). We exchanged insurance info but when I tried to claim to his insurance(I only have liability coverage),the other party denied making physical contact to my vehicle and thus his insurance denied my prop damage claim.
Now I plan to take this to small claims court. Should I sue the driver of the vehicle, owner/insured person(even if he is not in the scene) or both? Also, should I include the store owner of the parking area in my lawsuit as well since I got the damage around their premises? Besides, the store seem not want to provide me a video footage on the incident.

Please advise CA atty!

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Robert Bruce Kopelson

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . The driver for sure. If the owner gave permission to son to drive, he is liable for up to 15k for injury and 5k for property damage. The owner of the parking lot, which may not be the store, could be laible if it was responsible for the crash somehow. Was there something about the design or condition of the pkg lot that caused or contributed to the crash? If not, then I wouldnt sue them. You can ask the court clerk if there is a way to subpena the stores video footage. There are sometimes small claims advisors available to help with procedural questions. One problem you may have is that the video may require specail equipment to run, and the court may not have it. You also dont know do you, if the video shows the accident or not? Was it daytime?

  2. Paul J Molinaro

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

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    Answered . For the most part, thousand dollar valued matters which do not involve any physical/bodily injury are appropriate for small claims court. With any case, whether small claims or big claims (or Superior court as lawyers may call it), suing all the proper defendants is always a question that is answered based on theories of liability. A driver is responsible for his/her own negligent actions. A vehicle's owner may or may not be responsible for an accident involving his or her vehicle. The owner of the premises where a motor vehicle accident occurred may, though less often, be responsible too. The facts of a particular case along with strategy about how many defendants one wants to attack at once (will they band together to provide a common defense or will they finger point at each other?) will determine the course of action.

    -Paul

    Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.
    Attorney at Law, Physician, Broker
    Fransen & Molinaro, LLP
    980 Montecito Drive, Suite 206
    Corona, CA 92879
    (951)520-9684
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  3. Sean Michael Patrick

    Contributor Level 16

    8

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    Answered . I'd recommend NOT taking this to small claims court. Oddly small claims is really stacked against plaintiffs. Consult with a personal injury attorney in your area to handle this claim. To answer your question, you should sue the driver, and the owner and anyone else who might be closely related to being responsible for the incident.
    Best of luck.

    I am licensed in California, therefore, my answers are based on general prinicpals of law or California law, which... more
  4. Manuel Alzamora Juarez

    Contributor Level 20

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Without any personal injury component file it in small claims court. Do as attorney Kopelson says. Best of luck.

    This answer is provided by Manuel A. Juarez, Esq., El Abogado de Accidentes de Autos de California: 510-206-4492.... more
  5. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    8

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    Answered . Best bet is to get a local insurance lawyer in your state to review.

    Only 29% Contingency Fee! Phone: 215-510-6755 www.InjuryLawyerPhiladelphia.com
  6. Wendy Ha Chau

    Contributor Level 13

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    Lawyers agree

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    Answered . How old is the driver?

    The owner of the car and the driver.

    Goodluck!

    *Disclaimer: This response does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and I. I am not your lawyer... more
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