What to do if I was in an auto accident and I will have to file a small claims suit but don’t know who to sue?

UPDATED: Mar 11, 2012

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What to do if I was in an auto accident and I will have to file a small claims suit but don’t know who to sue?

I was in an auto accident, the driver of the other vehicle did not have permission to drive the truck and was driving on a suspended license. A girl showed up at the scene saying that she was the owner and gave me her telephone number. She claims she has insurance but will not give me any information. Her name, however, isn’t the same as the one on the registration. Since nobody is giving me information, I will have to file a small claims suit and I don’t know who to sue. The driver said he wanted to be held “totally responsible” until he heard the amount of the estimates.

Asked on March 11, 2012 under Accident Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Sue everyone--during the course of the litigation, there will be an opportunity to develop evidence as to fault, as well as an opportunity for anyone who believes he or she was not at fault or not responsible to present exculpatory evidence. So--

1) Sue the driver; if he or she was driving negligently (carelessly), he may be liable.

2) Sue the owner--while an owner is not responsible for a fully unauthorized use of his/her vehicle in most circumstances, i) you don't have to take his/her word that the use was unauthorized at face value (it can be explored in court), and ii) if the owner was sufficiently careless in securing the vehicle (e.g. left it with keys in ignition), he or she may be liable on that basis.

3) If you're not sure who the owner is, sue both the person on the registration and the girl who claimed she was the owner.

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