If you accidentally cause damage to someone’s vehicle and property, before they can sue you must they first try to make a claim with their insurer?

My wife was riding her cousin’s motorcycle since her cousin was teaching her how to ride. My wife has a learner’s permit and just a couple hours of experience. At the end of the lesson, which was given on a public road, she pulled into the driveway but accelerated instead of braking. She caused property and motorcycle damage, and needed medical attention. The total cost is $2,300 to fix the gateway’s door and the motorcycle, however we can’t afford it. Her cousin doesn’t want to go through his insurance. Is he required to try the insurance company before suing us? He said he will take us to small claims.

Asked on September 17, 2014 under Accident Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

No, there is no legal requirement whatsoever that someone go through their insurance before suing. It's silly to not go through your insurance--that's what you pay for insurance for; going through insurance is generally  faster and more certain that a lawsuit--but silly or not, your wife's cousin can elect to sue you rather than place an insurance claim.

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