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  1. #1

    Default Should You Sue an Uninsured Driver for Injuries from an Accident

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

    I was rear-ended on the freeway in December by a 37 year old guy. He was driving his mother's car, had a suspended license and no proof of insurance on him. He also told me and the CHP officer he had no insurance. He didn't even get a ticket for driving without a license because the officer didn't witness the accident!

    Anyway, ever since the accident I've been having head/neck issues from whiplash. I did go to the ER right after the officer released us from the scene.

    I had to pay our insurance deductible and we got our car repaired since we have full coverage. My insurance has been trying to collect from the driver to at least get our deductible recovered, but no luck yet. The driver probably has no money, but I was told by an attorney that I could try to sue both him and his mother, who still shows as the registered owner of the car.

    Is it worth suing them if I don't know if they can pay a settlement? I do have a legal plan so I think the cost to me would be minimal. Their car was a 2003 C class Mercedes sedan which looked like it was well cared for, but that's all I know.

    If I sue, I'd want more than just small claims stuff as I'd want reimbursement for my insurance and medical expenses as well as pain/suffering. Not looking for millions or anything crazy like that.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Should You Sue an Uninsured Driver for Injuries from an Accident

    You can explore with your 'legal plan' to see if they will represent you in a personal injury claim; perhaps they offer assistance in small claims court, but it's unlikely that they offer representation for injury cases in regular trial court.

    You will need to figure out for yourself whether you have any chance of recovering money, should you sue. Nobody here can promise you success. If the car was insured through the driver's mother, it may be that her policy will cover your injuries; to determine that, we would need more facts, such as whether he was driving with permission and whether he's an excluded driver on her insurance (if she has insurance).

  3. #3

    Default Re: Should You Sue an Uninsured Driver for Injuries from an Accident

    My claims rep got a hold of the mother who denied that the car belonged to her the day of the accident. She claims that she gifted the car to her son, submitted the forms to the DMV, and removed him from her insurance policy. Even 2 months after the accident, her name was still showing as registered owner. She also refused to give my rep the name of her insurance carrier so that he could validate her statement.

    I know she's lying about it because the driver kept telling me and the officer at the scene that the car belonged to her. If she did in fact take him off her policy then it won't affect her if he was indeed removed already, assuming she actually gave the car to him. The officer, who I also contacted directly about 2 weeks after the accident, never said the car was reported stolen, just that the driver got a hold of a cousin to come get him since he has a suspended license and isn't supposed to be driving I honestly don't know how anyone could drive the car anywhere as the hood was completely taco'd in half from going under the back of our SUV.

    I had consulted with the legal plan about doing a small claims suit, but I definitely want more than the $5K limit for small claims as my expenses are continuing to grow. The legal plan attorney is the one that said I could pursue both of them since the mother is/was the registered owner. Now, whether the mother actually had any insurance is what I don't know. Since CA doesn't require proof of insurance to renew your registration, there's no way to know if she had insurance or who the carrier was unless she opened a claim on her end.

    I've never tried to sue anyone before, but how do you know what assets someone has unless you try and sue them?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Should You Sue an Uninsured Driver for Injuries from an Accident

    I assume you do not have an uninsured motorist policy.

    The DMV in CA does require proof of insurance. They are also directly linked to everyone's insurance policy. As an example, try canceling your policy and guess who will be sending you a letter. Yes, the DMV. They know who your insurance co is, maybe even the policy number. Actually, the cop on the scene should have been able to tell you who the insurance co is.

    The CA DMV and auto insurance companies are joined at the hip now.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Should You Sue an Uninsured Driver for Injuries from an Accident

    It is possible the car was given to the son and the title to remain in the mother’s name. All it would require is the son not apply for a transfer

    BUT to escape liability for issues such as this, a seller files a notice or sale with the state to formally record the fact they have given ownership to another party. If she had not filed that document, she is still on the hook.

    So, if you file suit you definitely include both the son and the mother. If she filed the notice of transfer with the state, she can present that to the court and be excused from the suit. Otherwise she remains as a defendant. In other words, don’t worry about including the mother because you’re nkt sure you should. The courts have rules in place that allow her to be removed from the case should she truly not belong there

  6. #6

    Default Re: Should You Sue an Uninsured Driver for Injuries from an Accident

    Whenever I've renewed any of my registrations, I've never been required to submit proof of insurance. My claims rep is the one that said the DMV database only updates when an insurance claim is opened. If someone pays cash for their damage instead, there's no "flag" or update on their DMV record. Believe me, if my insurance could instantly know who the other carrier was, they would've taken care of that. Instead, they had to send it to a subrogation department who is working with a third party collection agency to try and at least get my deductible or a portion of it recovered from the guy. That was started in February and they haven't been able to collect a penny of it. They did warn me it may take months or it may get nowhere.

    Nonetheless, I would think that the officer would've provided us with insurance info at the scene if he could indeed see it, knowing the other guy didn't have any proof on him. He did confirm the mother was listed as registered owner. The driver said he didn't have any insurance of his own, but didn't know who his mother's carrier was. He said his mother wasn't answering when he tried calling at the scene.

    At the time of the accident, I didn't have uninsured motorist, but it only would've covered my deductible anyway as my carrier said their medical portion is only after what my health insurance covers. I have full coverage with AAA so I had to pay my deductible and AAA covered the rest of the damages/rental car. I now have uninsured motorist coverage, but it still wouldn't have covered work I've missed and the continuous symptoms I've had since. This is why I want to sue for more than the $5K.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Should You Sue an Uninsured Driver for Injuries from an Accident

    As jk indicates, you can sue the mother and the driver, and let the court sort out mom's liability (under a cause of action such as negligent entrustment). If mom has insurance that would cover the vehicle or otherwise cover her liability, she can submit the claim to her insurance company. If your damages are significant, consult a personal injury lawyer.

    An officer who prepares an accident report cannot record information not known to him. Had the other driver identified his mother's insurance company (if in fact the car was insured under a policy she holds) the officer could have noted that information, but the other driver stated that he himself had no insurance and no knowledge of any other policy. It is also reasonable to infer that nothing about insurance showed up on the officer's computer in association with the vehicle registration.

    If your insurance company identifies an insurance policy that applies to the other car, such that they can subrogate against that insurance company, they will likely share that information with you; but if there is no such policy there will be no information form them to obtain or provide.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Should You Sue an Uninsured Driver for Injuries from an Accident

    The cop said the driver would have to go to court and either prove he/vehicle had insurance at the time or he would be fined. Does any of that go to me? Of course not. I don't know what happened with that since the court doesn't notify me or my insurance if he did appear.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Should You Sue an Uninsured Driver for Injuries from an Accident

    Brian57 knows about as much about these issues as a potted plant or a grapefruit. You will actually get better information from a potted plant, because it will stay silent instead of feeding you nonsense.
    Quote Quoting ShouldaGoneToLawSchool
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    The cop said the driver would have to go to court and either prove he/vehicle had insurance at the time or he would be fined. Does any of that go to me? Of course not. I don't know what happened with that since the court doesn't notify me or my insurance if he did appear.
    You can check with the court to see the status of the ticket, but he would have no reason to lie about being uninsured. The odds that he suddenly realized that he was insured, then showed up to court with proof of insurance from the time of the accident, are negligible.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Should You Sue an Uninsured Driver for Injuries from an Accident

    Quote Quoting Brian57
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    They know who your insurance co is, maybe even the policy number. Actually, the cop on the scene should have been able to tell you who the insurance co is.

    The CA DMV and auto insurance companies are joined at the hip now.
    Completely false. All the return shows is "insurance information on file" for insured and "insurance status not checked". Law enforcement officers do not have access (on a DMV return) to what insurance company or policy number drivers have.

    The DMV has electronic communications with insurance companies and when a policy is cancelled, the DMV is notified of the cancellation. The DMV will usually wait for a short period of time to see if another insurance company picks up coverage for the VIN number, which most of the time happens. After a prescribed time of no validated coverage, the DMV sends out a letter to the registered and legal owners of their awareness of the cancellation of coverage for the vehicle. They ask in that letter to please provide the nee insurance information. If you provide the new insurance, no big deal, the problem goes away. If not, the DMV will suspend the vehicles registration, which the driver or registered owner can now be subject to citation.

    An NCIB check usually would show an insurance company and policy but those checks are outside the scope an officer investigating a traffic accident.

    Once again, the officer on scene has no idea who the insurance company is. That is why you are required to show proof of insurance at the scene of an accident.
    I'm a cop. My opinion does not reflect the views or opinion of my agency. That being said, "Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience."

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