what can i sue for in an auto accident and how?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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what can i sue for in an auto accident and how?

My family and i were gone to st
augustine on oct 11 2018.. In my sister
in laws rent a car. We left our two
vehicals park in our driveway and yard.
While we were out. Our next door neibhor
called to tell us that my husband work
friend from three doors down had drove
through the yard and totalled both of
our cars. When we arrived the police
were already there. He had left the
scene and parked his vehical that had
no insurance in his drive way… And he
was drunk. My insurance has paid off my
car lot, But we didnt receive anything.
Im out two vehicals had to come out of
pocket to buy two more. And im out all
the money i had aleady paid toward my
cars… ALso i was 5 months pregnant at
the time and had to ride a bike for a
month or so to work and to get my son to
and from school. Before i could get
another car. The guy acts like he doesnt
owe us nothing. And i would like to know
what i can sue him for and how…

Asked on January 8, 2019 under Accident Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) Yes, you can sue him: someone who drives drunk drives negligently (carelessly) and/or recklessly, and so is at fault for the damage he does.
2) Unfortunately, all you are entitled to regarding cars is the then-current (as of when they were totalled) fair market or "blue book" value of your cars--not their replacment cost, and not what you paid for them. The law uses an item's value as what someone who destroys it must pay: it does NOT give the item's owner the cost to buy a new version of what was destroyed, or compensate them for what was spent on what was destroyed. So all you would be entitled to for the cars themselves is what they were worth. If you had GAP insurance on them, that would also pay off any remaining amounts you owed. If the combination of the value of the cars and/or any GAP insurance pays off what you owe on the cars, you won't owe anything on them--but also no money will come to you, since the lender financing the cars is entitled to be paid first. Only if the value of the car, and so the money you receive for it, is more than what you still owed, would you get the surplus. And if you did not have GAP insurance, then if the then-current value of the cars was less than what was owed, you would owe the difference to the lender or financing company (though they might not bother to try to get it from you).
So if the value of the cars was paid to the lender or financing company, that's all you could get for the cars themselves: you can't sue for replacement cost or any amounts you had paid towards the cars.
3) If you had other out-of-pocket costs directly flowing from the cars being totalled, like the cost to rent a car for a reasonable time or take public/mass transit or Uber because you did not have a car, you can sue for those amounts (e.g. in small claims court).
4) You can't sue for frustration or your time (like the time you spent riding a bike to work).

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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