If an uninsured motorist with a revoked license hit my car, and has ignored court ordered restitution ruling and notices from collections agencies through via my insurance company, is it worth it to pursue restitution through small claims court?

Has anyone had any experience with small claims court? I’m wondering if
it’s worth the effort to pursue restitution. Last Fall, an uninsured driver hit
my car causing about 3600 in damages. My deductible was 1000, so we
paid that to get it fixed and began the process of seeking restitution. My
insurance company had collections agencies pursue it, and we filed for
court ordered restitution, which was granted. I believe the individual that
hit me is in no position to pay out 1000, and is choosing to ignore the
actions against him. Not only was he ‘excluded’ from the insurance policy
of the owner of the car he was driving, but was also driving on a revoked
What I have read about CO small claims court is that I am responsible for
fees to file, responsible for serving the defendant with the court notice,
and responsible for collecting the money once the ruling is given. That
most likely means filing for garnishment of his wages. In order to do that, I
need to research and know where/if he works and where he banks.
Even with the court ordered restitution, collections agencies, and a court
ruling against him, he could continue to dodge the issue. Going after the
owner of the vehicle he was driving is a thought…
So, is it worth going through the process to recover the 1000? Does the
owner of the vehicle he was driving have any liability? Could she be a
financial resource to draw from? I would love feedback or insight into how
this works

Asked on August 26, 2016 under Accident Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

IF the owner of the vehicle let this person drive (e.g. he did not steal the car or otherwise take it without permission), he or she is potentially liable: the owner of a vehicle is liable for the actions of his or her permitted driver. If the driver was at-fault, then the owner could be liable, too.
I handle some small claims cases, and in my experience, it is only worth bringing them against someone who owns real estate (which can be liened) or who has a decent-paying job working for someone else (not self employed), where you know where they work (so you can do wage garnishment). Otherwise, if the person being sued earns little more than minimum wage, doesn't have real estate, or doesn't have a "real" job (is self employed or works under the table for cash), the odds of collecting are slim. Suing the owner of this car is likely a better bet than suing the driver--by definition, the owner had enough income or assets to afford a car, at least.

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