My car suffered diminished value loss and the at-fault party insurance company is only paying for repairs and not paying for diminished value loss. I plan to sue the at-fault party in small claims court. The driver that hit me was a minor and the car is registered under the driver's father's name. Whom should I address the small claims court case against? Should it be against the driver or the person who owns the car? I was told that property damage is always filed against the owner of the car and not the driver. Please let me know your valuable inputs.
Hello again. You can sue both, but if the driver is a minor you actually don't sue him or her - you sue the persons designated in Civil Code 17707 and 17708 - namely the parents.
You wrote that you were pursuing your property damage claim against the at-fault driver's insurance (instead of your own collision coverage, if applicable). If the at-fault driver's insurance company requires you to sign a release prior to, or as part of, resolving your property damage claim, then that release will likely prohibit you from pursuing a property damage based claim, like diminution in value, against their insureds. Just something to keep in mind before you spend time & money on a small claims action.
As for the statement above, this is an incomplete post due to the lack of details concerning your matter. It is but only an attempt to provide a cursory overview of a subject that attorneys 'practice' and improve upon during the entirety of their legal careers. This response is not meant as legal advice or as a legal opinion. Such advice would be impossible or impractical without additional information and more facts giving rise to the question. A consultation with an attorney is necessary.
Make sure if you sign a release that it is explicitly limited to the repairs and not to all property damage claims. If you sign an over broad release it could bar you from pursuing your diminution of loss damages.
Also, in the future, it may be a better tactic to have your insurer pay for your repairs and inform your insurer to refrain from requesting reimbursement from the other carrier until you are made whole by the other carrier for your diminution of value claim. This way, if there is not enough coverage to pay for both from the other insurance policy you can obtain a better recovery. Also, if there is a limited amount of coverage in the other policy it may be easier to obtain recovery through a settlement with the other carrier if your carrier agrees to refrain from pursuing reimbursement against the other driver/owner and/or their policy. Although most insurance policies do not cover diminution of value on a first party basis under the collision portion of the policy (to their insured), most policies provide coverage for diminution of value on a third party claim against the liability coverage portion of the policy.
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