How do I get the person who crashed into my car to pay for the damage when their insurance company refused the claim?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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How do I get the person who crashed into my car to pay for the damage when their insurance company refused the claim?

About 3 months ago, a woman’s unlicensed father borrowed her car and crashed into my parked car, which sustained $3000 in damage as assessed by the insurance adjuster. The man begged us to not call the police. We did actually call but they said if both parties had insurance and exchanged information, they didn’t need to get

involved. So no report was made. However, her insurance ended up refusing to pay the claim since he was not licensed and not on her insurance policy. I have visited the man’s house twice. Once without the paperwork, to just say that I expect the family to cover the costs. The second time, I gave him and his wife a copy of the adjuster’s report. They said they are going through financial issues and didn’t know what they would pay back. Now, I believe I need to get legal advice and perhaps take them to court.

Asked on March 29, 2016 under Accident Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The only way to get money from them would be to sue them and win--that is, sue them, and prove in court that they were at fault in the accident and did a certain amount of damage to the car. If you can do that, you can get a court judgment in your favor--a legally enforceable determination that they have to pay. Of course, if they truly have no money, that may not matter: a judgment does not make money appear when there is none, and if they can't pay, they can't pay. (However, if you get a judgment, you don't have to take their word for this, and if they have an income or assets, you can get paid, whether by wage garnishment, putting a lien on real estate, levying or executing on bank accounts, etc.). For the amount of money you describe, suing in small claims court, "pro se" or as your own attorney (to save on legal fees) is a good option.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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