Victim of DUI driver: would seeking restitution damages in criminal court prevent defendant's insurance to pay?
Now received a letter from the District Attorney's Office, asking to file a statement of loss questionnaire for restitution damages, to be used in court during his DUI case hearing.
If I submit this questionnaire, would it remove the obligation of his insurance company to pay on my claim?
Would a better approach be to file a case against him in small claim court separately?
5 attorney answers
Short answer, no. The carrier will have to pay the claim so long as you have proper documentation to prove the damages (property damage, deductible, loss of earnings, rental expenses, loss of use of property, etc). I would seek restitution and pursue the claim through the responsible party(s) insurance carrier. Note: The restitution amount or figure that is approved by the judge may turn out to be insufficient depending on the extent of your damages and it may be an amount that the defendant may not be able to satisfy in one lump sum payment. As such, the carrier will have to satisfy that so long as it is within the person's policy limits. If they are not responding and the amount is within the small claims jurisdictional limits, I would file in small claims.
Not at all, in fact, the def insurance could pay the court ordered restitution. No. If he's ordered to pay victim's restitution, that's more powerful that a civil suit. Please understand, you don't get to be paid twice.
I'd get the restitution order, then submit that order to the def. insurance company.
I am licensed attorney who focuses on Serious DUI Cases such a 2nd DUIs, 3rd DUIs, 4th DUIs, and Felony DUIs and DMV hearings. I also have much experience handling car accident cases. Although the information I provide is helpful, it is not legal advice. Although Avvo makes it clear to consumers that attorney answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship, some attorneys prefer to add their own disclaimers to answers. You can set your custom disclaimer here and it will be automatically added to your answers. Do NOT include any direct solicitations or contact information.
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Mr. Nezhad is right on point. Have all documentation ready. Best of luck to you.
Attorney answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship.
In my experience a criminal restitution claim gets paid more often than a civil claim. It should not make a difference on the insurance status. The insurance company may be trying to deny coverage based on 1) non-payment of premiums, 2) falsification in the insurance application, or 3) no coverage for criminal acts. Whether they will be able to do so depends on the policy and state law. The insurance company may also simply be delaying and giving you a run-around.
I am shifting the category you filed this under to Insurance Law so you can get opinions from lawyers in that area.
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In criminal cases the Court can order the defendant to pay restitution which is normally considered the damages the victim has suffered. The questionnaire given to you is for the purpose of assessing your damages. The court will normally order the Defendant to pay that amount unless the defendant disputes the amount, at which point there will be a hearing.
If the judge does order restitution you are not entirely barred from seeking damages in a civil suit it would just be limited to other types of damages such as pain and suffering. I such contacting a civil attorney to see what is the best route for you.