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Can I take other driver (who I believe caused the accident) to small claims court?

Seattle, WA |

I was in a head-on collision with a car who came into on-coming traffic, across a double yellow line (which I immediately took multiple photos of). We were both going less than 10-15 miles per hour, so no one was hurt, but his insurance is saying he's not responsible, using an unprovable claim that he was "stationary" - if that even is a legitimate defense against being in on-coming traffic (we didn't get a police report). Either way, they are refusing to pay my damages or even give my insurance company their client's contact info or statement. But since I have pictures which prove conclusively that he was in MY lane, across a DOUBLE YELLOW LINE, can I just use the photos to take him to small claims court to try and recover the $1,000 I had to pay (deductible) to get my car fixed?

Efforts made by my insurance company: contacted the other driver's insurance, got their "he was stationary" excuse, and then closed the claim (back in January). Then about a month or so ago, I got a call from my insurance saying they were going to try arbitration, but I haven't heard from them since.

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Attorney answers 7


If you were injured, retain an attorney in WA.

Nothing in this communication should be construed as creating an attorney client relationship. This is for informational purposes only. Attorney will take no action on your behalf unless and until a written retainer agreement is signed. There are strict time deadlines on filing claims and, as such, you are advised to consult with and retain an attorney immediately to file such claims timely or you will lose any right to recovery. Any testimonials or endorsements should not be construed as a guarantee, warranty or prediction of the outcome of your case.



Again, no one was hurt.


Your own insurance company may be able to pursue recovery of your deductible on your behalf.

Call me at (503) 990-6641 to discuss further.



My insurance tried, but since the other comp wouldn't give their client's contact info or statement, my insurance closed the claim. Then about a month ago, I got a call saying they were going to try arbitration, but haven't heard from them since. Should I hold off on small claims court til I hear back from them?


Absolutely, and bring the small claims action without further delay.



Samuel A. Coffey, Esq. ABRAMOWITZ, POMERANTZ & COFFEY, P.A. Belle Terre of Sunrise, Suite 101 7800 W. Oakland Park Boulevard Sunrise, FL 33351 Phone: (954) 572-7200 Fax: (954) 748-6488 Legal Disclaimer: If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. Sam Coffey is licensed to practice law in Florida. This response 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. Coffey strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.


Yes. Small claims court would be an excellent venue for a small property damage case. Be sure to take evidence and show to the court.




It sounds like the insurance companies are going to arbitration over the property damages. This process will be done with paper filings alone, and will largely take place "over your head" without your direct participation. This arbitration process is simply the insurance companies fighting over their payment obligations to each other. Again, you will probably not be directly involved in that process. There are several things you can do to protect your interests in the arbitration process.

First: send a letter or an email (something in writing) to your adjustor, letting him or her know that you are making a claim for your deductible and want your deductible refunded if your company prevails in the arbitration.

Second: make sure that your insurance company has all the information which you have, such as photographs of the accident scene, measurements, photographs of the vehicles involved, property damage estimates and the like.

If the insurance company prevails in the arbitration, you should get most or all of your deductible back without having to take further action yourself. This is the property damage part of the accident.

If you have any bodily injuries, which you may not even be aware at this time, you may need to file a case to recover from the other driver. It is too soon and you did not supply sufficient facts to decide whether you have bodily injuries, whether to file a case, in what court to file and the like. If you have any doubts about your bodily injuries, you should get yourself checked out by a medical professional just in case. If the accident occurred in Washington State, you have three (3) years from the date of the accident in which to file an action for your bodily injuries. There are many reasons not to rush into filing a bodily injury claim, which are beyond the scope of your question. If you believe that you have suffered a bodily injury after consulting with a medical professional, you should retain an attorney to assist you.

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