When suing two parties for a rental car and other charges pertaining to an accident, do both parties come to court? Also, should a person represent themselves in small claims court?

A car turning left at an intersection hit a bicyclist coming through the
intersection on the sidewalk. The bike and the person hit our car with my wife
and 11-year old daughter inside. It took about two weeks to repair the car. In
the meantime, we rented a car. The police cited the car with failure to yield or
something like that. When the insurance company investigated, they said several
eyewitnesses reported that the bike was on the sidewalk and travelling too fast.
Obviously, a court may need to decide who was at fault or both. One hitch in
this mess is that the bicyclist will not answer his phone. Also, our insurance
company and the driver’s insurance company are the same.

Asked on October 22, 2017 under Accident Law, Iowa

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) Anyone named as a party needs to be appear or else he/she will lose by "default"--like forfeiting a ball game by not appearing.
2) However, the person must be properly served (have the court papers delivered to him/her in the proper legal way) to be a party to a case; if not served, he or she has not been sued even if named in the papers and does not neeed to appear.
3) Generally, you represent yourself when suing in small claims court, since given how much you are suing for, the cost of any attorney would typically eat up most, if not all, of what you hope to get.


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