My older sister (age 31) was driving my car near a motorcyclist, when the motorcyclist fell, spraining his thumb. The motorcyclist claimed my sister was driving to close to him, causing the accident. However, the insurance company determined the motorcyclist was 60% at fault for the accident, and my sister at 40% (there were no witnesses).
My car and the motorcycle never touched, though the motorcycle sustained superficial damages according to the insurance company and police report. My insurance company offered $400, however, the motorcyclist rejected it and demanded $10,000 for pain and suffering.
However, the motorcyclist went to the doctor only once, where it was determined he suffered from a minor sprain to his thumb. He is now suing me in small claims court for $10,000 (though I was under the impression he could only sue for $7,500 in the state of California) for pain and suffering.
My question is, does he actually have a case? How do I defend against this? Thank you for any information you can give.
Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.
The jurisdictional amount for California Small Claims Courts is $10,000. This is the maximum amount a plaintiff can sue a defendant for in small claims court. It may help you to read these articles about small claims court.
From the facts you present, the motorcyclist doesn’t have the basis of a lawsuit for damages. In personal injury claims, damages can include medical and/or therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses (for such items as medications, bandages, etc.), lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The motorcyclist saw a doctor once, and only to treat a sprained finger. Therefore, he has a very limited claim for damages. In this case, for the motorcyclist’s personal injury claim, any recovery in small claims court would be minimal.
Moreover, because he has already been paid by the insurance company, a judge in small claims court would be extremely hesitant to allow the motorcyclist to “double-dip.”
The motorcyclist may be suing for damage to his motorcycle. Parts and labor can be quite expensive, especially if the motorcycle is foreign built.
Take the lawsuit seriously. Be sure to have with you in court witnesses to the accident, photos of the scene of the accident, and any insurance documents related to the accident. Present those to the judge.
Learn more here: Liability in Personal Injury Claims
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.
Best of luck with your claim,
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