Rear-ended, but at-fault party does not have insurance. How to pursue?

Here’s what happened -

  1. At a red-light, idiot driver on the phone hit a Jeep that was also stopped behind me but hit with so much force the Jeep hit us. So, three cars in total.
  2. LEO called, got report and idiot driver cited and marked at-fault for causing the accident.
  3. Called up her insurance, turns out her policy lapsed as of 7 weeks ago.

I just filed with my insurance provider but I am out my deductible ($500). They stated they will attempt to subrogate her, but will also provide all necessary paperwork for small claims court that I could file.

Questions I have:

  1. Is it possible to file a claim that is inclusive of diminished value? I have not seen this before.
  2. It doesn’t seem like hiring a lawyer would help, but could it?
  3. Honestly, is it worth pursuing based on past experience? It’s very aggravating, but again, this is why we have car insurance (well, at least some of us).

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  1. No idea. Ask your insurance company. If they don’t say no off the bat, I would think it is possible.
  2. Probably wouldn’t be worth it.
  3. Is what worth pursuing? The small claims court suit for your deductible? Probably not.
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Do you have uninsured motorist coverage? If so, check your policy it may not have a deductible. And they might try to open a regular claim (at fault) rather than pay out from uninsured coverage.
States vary how uninsured works as well as no fault states.



Perhaps I should rephrase my question. I don’t believe my insurance company would pay out a residual value claim, but I could pursue this with the at-fault party?

What state? Here Uninsured motorist coverage (CA) would cover your $500 deductible.

What kind of car do you have? DV doesn’t work well at the low end (Crown Vic).

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2016 BMW X5.

I’m guessing the Jeep has more damage than you and will sue them too. Then the at-fault party will declare bankruptcy. You will be out $500 and your DV claim will be ignored. Is this how it works with deadbeats driving without insurance?

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Would it be possible to go after the middle cars (jeeps) insurance?

I seem to remember reading (most likely on FWF) that in a 3 car accident, the middle car is also liable because they did not leave enough space between them and you.

It’s worth a shot to try to file a claim with the Jeep’s insurance, it was their vehicle after all that did hit yours (even if it wasn’t their fault). Most likely IF this method does work the Jeeps insurance company will pay your insurance company, then try to get money from Driver 1 (and good luck to them cause I doubt they will get any).


I have nothing to add, other than to wish you good luck, and thank you for starting a classic Fatwallet Finance thread.


Potentially. What’s interesting is Jeep’s insurance company did call me yesterday to confirm the details.

My insurance provider has been processing it pretty swiftly. Hopefully I have approval for my initial estimate (it’s about $2600 in damage) and then we can take things from there.

Sure, you could. But good luck getting a small claims court judge to understand the claim.

As to your other questions - a lawyer will require a retainer - there isnt enough money involved to take the case on contingency - so it could end up just adding to your losses. Assuming your insurance company will have already pursued restitution from the at-fault driver, there’s no point in pursuing a voluntary payment yourself. Leaving small claims, to get a judgement that you can have enforced. Whether that’s worth it or not depends on your instinct regarding the other driver - are they going to have anything to collect, once you’ve won, or are they basically judgement-proof?

You could also contact the middle driver, and develop a coordinated/joint claim against the at-fault driver.

One thing I would question - can you sue the other driver for just your deductible? I’d think that any restitution you receive would have to reimburse your insurance company first, so you’d have to sue for, and actually collect, the entire claim value for it to help you any.



Solid info. Thanks.

Based on some of day-time small claim reality TV I saw, yes, you can sue to make yourself “whole” and that may even include diminished value and any increase in premium…

That’s not small claims court (the reality TV ones - at least most of them). It’s arbitration. Most of the time arbitration awards don’t have to be based on what awards are allowed under the law.

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My dad files in small claims court all the time for tenants that skip out on the rent. Apparently Judge Judy producers scour small claims court filings to get (at least some) of their cases because one time my dad got a letter in the mail offering him a free trip to LA the amount he sued for, whether he won on the show or not, in exchange for coming on the show and dropping the suit. I assume they offered the same free trip to the defendant and told him that he wouldn’t owe anything whether he won or lost.

So are those shows really arbitration? Nope. The cases are already settled and they are pretty much just for TV bragging rights. He probably would have lost money on the deal. He’s so vain he would have bought a $1,000 suit for his TV appearance and probably sued for less than that.

If you’re wondering, my dad didn’t go on the show. I think he still regrets it. He framed the letter and hung it on his office wall though.


Well, yeah, you can sue for whatever amount you want. But wouldnt whatever you win have to then be used to reimburse your insurance, until they’ve been reimbursed in full, at which point you’d keep whatever’s left? With a $500 deductible, insurance will only cover losses beyond $500 - get $500 back from a lawsuit, and your loss will be zero so insurance wont cover anything until you “pay” that $500 in again.

Agree with @glitch99. You probably could, but it would be even less likely to succeed in the end than the small claims case for your deductible.

As long as your insurance company has everyone’s info, I would just let them handle it and hope for the best. Make sure you get enough of an explanation from them that you feel satisfied they are doing what they should be doing. But as a lay person in this arena, it’s unlikely that you will be more successful than them.

The proper thing to do wouldn’t be to sue for $500, it would be to sue for the full amount of the damage and then hand over the excess of the deductible to the insurance company. That’s why in this situation I think it’s best to go along with whatever the insurance company suggests. If they were going to sue, they would be suing on the OP’s behalf and wouldn’t sue just for the amount they paid out to fix the car. They would sue for the full amount and then hand the $500 over to the OP.