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Is it correct that I am suing in small claims court?

Culver City, CA |

I was making a left turn and both cars in drivable lanes were yielding to me. As I am passing through, this guy plows into the front end of my car because he was driving in the parked car lane!! In his statement to his insurance company, he and a "whitness" (who I did not even see at the scene) made false statements that he was driving in the second lane (not the parked car lane) and only one car (convenient that they both claimed it was a "white truck") was yielding to me. There are also two signs posted on the street directing you to merge from the lane he was in because it becomes a lane to park. I have a picture of my car post accident that shows the position of my car post accident. How strong do you think my case is?

The picture shows that if he was driving in the second lane as he claims, my car would have either (a) been in a different position on the street post accident or (b) he would have hit my car in the rear and it would have been faced the other way.

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Attorney answers 6

Posted

It will be a battle of witnesses, but your photos will help. The first question really is where and how you will fight this battle. First of all, notify your own insurance company about the accident if you have not already. If you were hurt, it pays to consult with a personal injury lawyer. If not, and this is just about fixing your car, then you can and should use your collision coverage if you have it, or if not, start negotiations with the insurance company for the other guy. If they are not reasonable then I suggest you go to small claims court and sue him. His "witness" might now want to show up and testify under penalty of perjury.

If you have any way of finding witnesses to support your story you need to find them.

Asker

Posted

I have went through my insurance company and I submitted my photo to them but I do not feel they did much in regards to it because I only carried liability so either way they were not going to have to pay much of anything. I contacted his insurance company and submitted my photo to try to get them to re-evaluate their decision and they said they were going to contact me in 24 hours and did not. Therefore, I decided to file the case.

Asker

Posted

I called my sisters fiance to come out after the accident because I was scared and needed his help because my car was not drivable. Would it be suitable for him to testify to what position the car was in after? He did not witness the actual accident.

David Lee Fiol

David Lee Fiol

Posted

I think you are on the right track then. Yes, your sister's fiance can testify to where he saw the car and to the fact that it was not drivable, if he knows that as well. This would support a finding that the car stopped where he found it, and was not moved after the accident and before he arrived. Of course, the other driver can argue that your car moved a little after the collision, so you need to anticipate and perhaps rebut that. Also, although a lawyer cannot represent you in small claims court, you can get help from lawyers or legal clinics in preparing your case. I am not sure but there might be a free clinic at Loyola Law School or some other law school in your area. Good luck.

Asker

Posted

I appreciate your response and information about the free clinic. I have figured that he may use that angle to argue. I already have prepared myself for it. (1) The car would not start and the wheel was completely bent in so moving it would have been near impossible. (2) The driver of the other vehicle had a cast on his leg and got out of the car on crutches. And I am no car person, but I don't think myself alone would have been able to move that kind of car. I also recorded video before the car was sold to company showing the damages and also the fact that the car would not start. This was done 4 days after the accident, which is when I found out he lied and I was preparing for potential court. Again, I thank you so much for all of your answers!

Posted

Small claims courts are for... well, small claims... meaning small amount of dollars at stake... like ten G's or less... big claims court... also called superior court handles cases of bigger dollar amounts or with issues too complex for small claims... plus one big difference is that lawyers are not allowed to reoresent small claims parties in the courtroom. That said... if a car crash involves physical injury, it's probably a solid bet that it belongs in Superior Court.

No one should handle any claim (involving a motor vehicle accident with bodily injury) against any insurance company without a lawyer. Claims should be handled by a lawyer - one who will be able to understand and explain the physical damages and injuries from accident. The victim of a car accident really needs to worry about one thing - getting better. That means attending doctor's appointments, attending physical therapy (if appropriate), and taking his or her medication. All of the rest can be handled by a personal injury attorney. We earn our fees (contingent by the way) by taking on the stress and hassle of fighting for money - I dare say some of us actually enjoy the fight, but I realize that most people do not enjoy conflict.

… Since many of us personal injury types offer free consultations and take personal injury cases on a contingent basis, there really is nothing to fear in calling us.

- 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
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 personal injury, medical malpractice, and real estate law.

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... 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 personal injury, medical malpractice, and real estate law.

Asker

Posted

My car had an estimated value of 2100 before damages. I only received 300 because they deemed my car a total loss. I did not have any personal injuries resulting from the accident. The only thing that was injured was my car.

Paul J Molinaro

Paul J Molinaro

Posted

While this is absolutely not legal advice for any particular person at all... if one were to have, say $2,100 buck in damage and be offered only 300 lousy dollars from a cold hearted ruthless insurance agent who giggles when he or she lowballs people... said person should probably take the at fault driver to small claims court for the $2,100 plus any other damages that result like court costs and rental car fees for a reasonable time. But, as I said, this is just general non-specific advice. - 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 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 personal injury, medical malpractice, and real estate law.

Asker

Posted

Thank you. So hypothetically speaking if one was to have already sold their car for 300, they would just deduct that from the 2100 and add the cost of the rental. I really appreciate your time.

Paul J Molinaro

Paul J Molinaro

Posted

Said hypothetical person will have to prove to the small claims judge that the car was actually worth $2,100. Maybe a blue book value could be used. Maybe a local used car salesperson could be brought in to testify as to the value. Proof of value will be the problem should such a situation ever be encountered. - Paul

Asker

Posted

Say this person has the document from the company who bought for 300 and the estimated value on there is listed as 2100, which is given after reviewing photos of the car and looking at it when they came to pick it up. Would that be enough? Or should this person also seek out a used salesperson?

Paul J Molinaro

Paul J Molinaro

Posted

Well, if I were a judge (I'd throw a lot of books if I was, by the way), I would wonder why someone would sell a car that was worth $2,100 for $300, so I would expect some explaining to be done for such a wide variation between numbers... the bottom line is that one cannot (well, generally not) just give opinions without some kind of support for a price - one has to explain to a court where a number was derived, how it was calculated... based on what, etc. - Paul

Asker

Posted

Since the person only carried liability insurance, and their car was deemed a total loss (by their insurance company appraiser) the value of $2,100 was calculated as the car PRE-accident. Post-accident, it wouldn't start, was not drivable, and basically just a totaled car. Since the person was getting ZERO money from either insurance company, the only thing they could do was sell it to a company who buys totaled cars. That being said, a company who either puts money to repair it themselves, or scraps it for metal took it.

Paul J Molinaro

Paul J Molinaro

Posted

In such a case, then, the blue book minus $300 (the $300 already paid) would be the loss... Kelly Blue Book or even Edmunds pricing guides should be able to suffice for a fast 'n loose price guide. - Paul

Posted

It really depends on the amount of damages you are seeking. Often times small claims court can be very unfriendly to the Plaintiff with virtually no recourse.(e.g. only the defendant may appeal) it may be in your best interest to consult with a local personal injury attorney to assist you with your claim. Best of luck.

I am licensed in California, therefore, my answers are based on general prinicpals of law or California law, which may not be applicable in your jurisdiction. Answers posted to Avvo are for general information only. Do not conclusively rely on any information posted online when deciding what to do about your case. Every case depends is fact dependent, and responses are limited to and is based on the information you posted. No attorney-client relationship shall be created through the use reading of this response on Avvo. You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information in this response.

Asker

Posted

It is 2100 so if I lose, at least I can say I tried.

Sean Michael Patrick

Sean Michael Patrick

Posted

That is true. So if total damages are $2100, then small claims court is likely the best venue for your case. Just make sure that you have your evidence in order and be prepared for the defendant to stretch things out.. Best of luck.

Asker

Posted

Thank you. I never in a million years would have thought I was dealing with a liar when this happened. He seemed like a really respectable person. That being said, if (god forbid) I am in another accident, I will insist that the police officer take a report, despite the lack of injuries. Thank you again for all your information!

Posted

Bottom line is you should have a car accident lawyer in your state review this before you take any action yourself.

Posted

It is legal to drive in the parking lane, so long as it can be done with "reasonable" safety. The vehicle entering the roadway will generally get hit with some comparative in such a situation since they have the higher duty - entering onto a roadway.

Asker

Posted

There are two signs before it becomes such a lane that instruct whomever is driving in it to merge. I understand that means get over when possible, but I don't think that means continue through the lane to try to bypass traffic... Also, I am going to subpoena geico for their records of his statement with specific detail as to what he said. I don't think he would have lied about the lane he was traveling in if he did not feel it was necessary to do so in order to not be at fault.

Posted

The fact of the matter is that without more evidence, giving you my opinion based on the limited amount of information would simply be giving you a false sense of security. That being said, I am more willing to talk with you and help you develop your case. If you have any questions, I would love to assist you further. Best of luck.
(310) 207-4030

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