Can I sue the guilty party or the insurance company if I am being blamed for an accident? 6 Answers as of February 21, 2012A car hit me coming into a parking lot. His front bumper hit my car from the side door, and there was a witness (I have her info). I took a picture with my cell phone of the car, him and the plates, and he said he was sorry for the damage, which is a bit over 1,000 dollars. He had no damages as he hit me with his front bumper. I reported to Geico Insurance which him and I both have. Now the Insurance company tells me that he said that I hit him and that there is no contest and they are not doing anything. Can I sue the guilty party or the insurance company for damages?
Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A. | Christopher J. Roberts
Unfortunately, your problem is all too common because insurance companies often fail to conduct thorough investigations before they decide how to proceed. You do have available remedies. The insurance company's decision about who is at fault is absolutely non-binding on you. You can bring a lawsuit against the other driver for the damage to your vehicle (and any other losses you sustained as a result of the accident). If you do that, you will have the opportunity to call your favorable witness to offer her testimony about what she saw, and you can offer your own testimony to establish the fault of the other driver. You can also make a formal claim with both insurance companies, and let them know about your evidence that it was the other driver's fault. They may come around and save you the trouble if they talk to the witness and she confirms your version of events. If you have your own insurance coverage for vehicle damage, you can also bring a direct claim against your insurance company to compensate you for the damage to your vehicle. This is known as a "first party" insurance claim, meaning you are suing your own insurer for failing to live up to its obligations under the insurance policy. Some states allow you to recover attorneys' fees and other damages if the insurer acted in bad faith. You may have difficulty finding a lawyer to help you if your sole damages are $1000, because the lawyer will likely tell you that his/her fee will be more than you can recover. You may be able to interest a lawyer by discussing the concept of insurance bad faith, because the lawyer could potentially get paid for his/her time from the insurance company, on top of any recovery to you. Or you could file a small claims court action yourself against the other driver, which may be the most expedient route. Most court clerks will help you with getting the proper paperwork filed. You will get a court date for trial. Make sure you bring your favorable witness with you to testify. You will not be allowed to testify about what someone else told you (hearsay). You need her to come herself. I would think that with a witness verifying that it was the other guy's fault, you will have a good chance of recovering. Good look.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
In Florida, you can't sue the other person's insurance company, but you can sue him in small claims court since the damage is only $1,000. I would tell GEICO that you intend on suing their insured, since you'll have to pay over $400 to file the lawsuit and get him served. You can add that money to the verdict if you win, however. You do need to know that GEICO will get one of their employee lawyers to represent the other driver, so it will be you against a lawyer in the courtroom. If you have the proof (can you print the pictures out from off of your phone?) and you want to spend the money, (and you're up for the adventure) then go for it!
Answer Applies to: Florida