1. Your action in Small Claims Court cannot use an 'honest' or a 'dishonest' attorney. Parties represent themselves.
2. The deciding factors in all cases are (a) evidence and (b) credibility.
(a) Evidence. The best evidence you have is the police report. It would usually contain statements of the parties. Read carefully what he other party said. Did (s)he make any admissions? Does the report contain any information with which you can impeach the other party.
The other party's best evidence is their witness. Is the witness going to be present or the defendant going to produce the statement from the witness? Object to the statement because it is "hearsay". Remind the judge that the witness is not on the police report and that s(he) showed up 45 days after the accident.
(b) Credibility and demeanor. If the witness appears in court, be nice to him and her. Do not accuse anyone of lying or be outwardly hostile. See if you could impeach the witness. Ask the judge if you could ask a few questions of the witness. Have a list of questions prepared. Listen to the answers. Do not ignore the answers and stick to your list. Do not interrupt the judge. Here are some of the pointers:
Please tell the court:
*Have you and the D(defendant) met before ....(the date of the accident)?
*How did you find out about the D(efendant)?
*How did you first communicate with the D (efendant)?
*Where were you when the accident happened?
*Did you see how the accident happened?
*Can you descibe the vehicle I was driving?
Make? Model? How about color?
*Can you describe the vehicle I was in?
*What color was it? Do you recall its make and model.
You can come up with other questions relating to position and movement of the vehicles after hte impacytt. Did they remain in the same place or moved. Ask how the drivers approached each other. Who came out first and came over to whom? In short ask details that only a real witness would know. Then point out to the judge the discrepancies etween wahat happened and the lack of recollection of details as well as wrong answers. Good luck to you.
By answering your question we did not establish an attorney-client relationship. I have not examined all the facts or documents. I have not given you a legal advice nor intended to give you one on which you may rekly. A legal advice on which you can rely can only be given when all the facts are known and documents reviewed. My respoonse to your question was of a general educational nature. In order to obtain sopund legal advice you need tyo see an attorney who specializes or focuses in the area you are interested in.
Fault will be determined based on the evidence presented to the judge. Unfortunately, it sounds like they have an independent witness which is very detrimental to intersection cases when there is a "he said, she said" situation. You should try to use the fact that you were proceeding straight and the other vehicle was turning in your direction in your favor. Vehicles that are turning at an intersection have a duty to yield to the vehicles proceeding straight unless they have a green turning arrow.
A personal injury attorney works on a contingency fee basis. Often, if there is a small or no injury, it is not worth the time for an attorney to handle the case and it is better suited for a small claims action like you filed. With an independent witness, I would not be surprised if the insurance company would have denied your claim with or without representation.
Legal basis for your claim: Vehicle Code 21801(a) requires a person making the left turn to yield the right of way until it is safe to make the turn. The bigger question is just how well the other party's witness testimony will be received. Other counsel have proposed some good questions to ask to try to attack the witness, but you may want to have the investigating officer testify on your behalf, pointing out that this other witness never came forward at the time of the initial investigation. You can arrange for the officer to testify via subpoena. (for mor information on how, check out the following web link- http://www.courts.ca.gov/1013.htm )
Disclaimer- The information you obtain at our web-site or through postings on such sites as this is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for specific advice regarding your individual situation. Any response given here is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change.
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