If your damages and medical claims are extensive, small claims court may not be an appropriate forum.I suggest calling an attorney located in your area. Usually, they will offer a free consultation for something like this.
Small Claims Court would be too limiting on your ability to collect damages. You should not attempt to handle this type of claim on your own.You should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow the doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to any medical records. Photograph the injuries and the damage done to any property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on Avvo.com dealing with many of the issues you are now facing.
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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within 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. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
I agree with the other attorneys, small claims is probably not the proper venue for this claim. Small claims recovery is limited to $7500.
In terms of a medical claim, an injured person is entitled to past and future medical treatment, pain and suffering (called general damages), lost wages, and in the case of a drunk driver, punitive damages (punishment to reckless party). One is also be intitled to a property damage claim (the value of the car) and loss of use (rental value of the car x time lost).
You would be well advised to contact a personal injury attorney that is licenced in California.
These types of personal injury cases can be very complicated and require the analysis of a damages expert. The expert would take into account many factors including: medical expenses (past and future), property damages, and lost income. Some of these factors depend greatly on your age, education, and employment situation. Furthermore, you could be entitled to significant pain and suffering damages and even punitive damages.
The big question is whether the drunk driver was insured and whether his insurer will agree to coverage without a lawsuit. Furthermore, if you have insurance, your insurer should be notified of the claims and they will cover the medical and property damages for the time being.
You should contact a lawyer to analyze each of this issues and approach the insurance company on your behalf.
The Law Office of Joshua A. Burt
The above answer should not be considered and does not constitute legal advice. You should not rely on any of this advice because each case is fact specific and could be subject to different local, state, and federal laws. No attorney-client relationship exists based on this response.
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