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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    1

    Default Motorcyclist Injured by an Uninsured Driver

    My question involves an injury that occurred in the state of: California

    I was involved in a motorcycle accident earlier this month. I did not carry uninsured motorist coverage, on my policy. I now know, that this was a big mistake. The driver of the car was a 19 year old, driving his mother's car. The car was registered to his Mom. I sustained bodily injury as well as damage to the motorcycle. The accident was clearly his fault as he went through a stop sign, and was witnessed by two people, one of which was a police officer. I had an attorney and was going through physical therapy, when the attorney dropped my case, when it was discovered that the owner of the car did not have valid insurance. I am trying to determine if I am spinning my wheels at this point, trying to see if any attorney would take the case, if the owner of the vehicle has any assets, an attorney would attach.

    As a last resort, I could go through small claims, but I probably already have about $8,000-$10,000 medical, motorcyle damage, ect.

    My questions;

    Would an attorney take on a contingentcy case, assuming that this person may have assets to attach?

    If I have to file in California small claims, what would be the maximum amount I could recover?

    Is it beneficial to list both parties in the lawsuit, mother and son, or just the mother?

    My injuries consist od a fractured rib, road rash, and back pain. What would be a reasonable amout to ask, for pain and suffering?

    Thank You

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Motorcycle Accident, California

    As a last resort, I could go through small claims, but I probably already have about $8,000-$10,000 medical, motorcyle damage, ect.
    that's great. California small claims has a limit of $10k.




    Would an attorney take on a contingentcy case, assuming that this person may have assets to attach?
    assuming? Most likely not. Verifiable? Maybe but even then, doubtful. The reason they take claims with insurance coverage is once the court determines liability and an amount, the insurance company is legally bound to pay (up to the limits of coverage) so the lawyer does not have to chase somebody to pay a judgment that may never be paid.

    If I have to file in California small claims, what would be the maximum amount I could recover?
    $10k


    Is it beneficial to list both parties in the lawsuit, mother and son, or just the mother?
    why would the mother be liable? The kid was driving. There are reasons you might include the mother but nothing so far you have posted would show she would be liable.

    My injuries consist od a fractured rib, road rash, and back pain. What would be a reasonable amout to ask, for pain and suffering?
    If you sue in small claims, it becomes irrelevant since the $10k limit and (but not sure) small claims will not entertain a claim for pain and suffering.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    1,995

    Default Re: Motorcycle Accident, California

    Quote Quoting jk
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    why would the mother be liable? The kid was driving. There are reasons you might include the mother but nothing so far you have posted would show she would be liable.
    According to the OP, he said "driving mom's car", so I infer mom is the registered owner, and the registered owner is legally responsible, and the one being sued, normally. If mom had insurance, lent the car to a friend, the insurance would pay the claim then get after the friend under subrogation. Here with no insurance, mom alone can be sued as the registered owner. And if it's not the son, but a freind, mom has the option of suing the freind, and bring him into the lawsuit.

    OP can have the option of suing mother and son, mother being the registered owner, and son being the driver, or mom alone being the registered owner.

    As to getting some lawyer to handle the case on a contingency basis, looks like OP would have to interview dozens of attornies. Our family had to do this in a wrongful death case, no attorney wanted the case on contingency, and we were suing a major oil company. Said it was too much work, and the returns uncertain. A customer of mine suing me on a trip and fall also had to see 2 dozen lawyers before one took the case on contingency, and this lawyer who took the case dropped it after it turned out to be too much work, according to my insurance company adjuster handling the claim. It was dropped after 6 months and I learned this after my customer came back to ask for info on the claim# and the insurance company phone number, and as far as I know, he collected nothing when it was all said and done.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Motorcycle Accident, California

    California's owner liability statute applies to permissive use of a motor vehicle, so if junior drove the car without mom's permission she may be able to avoid liability.
    Quote Quoting California Vehicle Code, Sec. 17150, Liability of Private Owners
    Every owner of a motor vehicle is liable and responsible for death or injury to person or property resulting from a negligent or wrongful act or omission in the operation of the motor vehicle, in the business of the owner or otherwise, by any person using or operating the same with the permission, express or implied, of the owner.
    Quote Quoting California Vehicle Code, Sec. 17151, Limitation of Liability of Owner, Bailee or Representative
    (a) The liability of an owner, bailee of an owner, or personal representative of a decedent imposed by this chapter and not arising through the relationship of principal and agent or master and servant is limited to the amount of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) for the death of or injury to one person in any one accident and, subject to the limit as to one person, is limited to the amount of thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) for the death of or injury to more than one person in any one accident and is limited to the amount of five thousand dollars ($5,000) for damage to property of others in any one accident.


    (b) An owner, bailee of an owner, or personal representative of a decedent is not liable under this chapter for damages imposed for the sake of example and by way of punishing the operator of the vehicle. Nothing in this subdivision makes an owner, bailee of an owner, or personal representative immune from liability for damages imposed for the sake of example and by way of punishing him for his own wrongful conduct.
    In small claims court, you can make a claim for economic damages (e.g., out-of-pocket expenses, such as damage to the motorcycle and medical bills) and non-economic damages (e.g., "pain and suffering").

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,867

    Default Re: Motorcycle Accident, California

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    California's owner liability statute applies to permissive use of a motor vehicle, so if junior drove the car without mom's permission she may be able to avoid liability.


    In small claims court, you can make a claim for economic damages (e.g., out-of-pocket expenses, such as damage to the motorcycle and medical bills) and non-economic damages (e.g., "pain and suffering").
    thanks for the correction, both of ya.

    I'm surprised about both of those but I shouldn't be. California deals with so many things so differently than many other states.

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