Q: Next Step(s) after not getting a response from the defendants? All parties served by Court. It's been 30 days.
1.Because I could not obtain legal counsel for this case and was running out of time (24 month statue of limitation), as Pro Se, my petition asked for a Bench Trial (good or not?); 2. Since it has been 30 days, after filing the Complaint and neither party has answered, even though they received the certified mail from the court, what is/are my next step(s) (petition for a Summary Judgment or Default Judgment, file for subpoenas, depositions, production of documents (like policy declarations) or something else)?;3.If a Summary or Default Judgment is granted, how do I recover damages from the at-fault driver (do I further proceed to go after her insurance company-if so, how so)?; 4.If a Summary of Default Judgement is granted, how do I recover damages from my auto insurance company?; 5.Should I respond to the at-fault driver’s insurance company latest letter (wanting to evaluate the claim-even though they already have and made an extremely low offer-I rejected it in October 2019)?
A: 1. Bench trial versus Jury trial - it all depends on your venue (what county you are in) and the type of claim you have. Juries are drawn from the people of the county where you filed your claim - if those residents tend to be more conservative or liberal in general, that is likely what your jury pool will reflect. However, you will get a trial date much quicker if you chose a bench trial, which means your case will be tried to the Judge (facts and law).
2. If the other parties fail to answer, you can apply to the clerk for the entry of a default judgment. If a default is entered as to liability, you really don't need the other items.
3. If a default is entered, you would then request a damage hearing before the Court. Essentially you would put on evidence of your damages, i.e. medical bills, liens, property damage, pain and suffering, etc. and request a certain amount from the Court.
4. The only way is if you have uninsured motorists coverage and the other parties are not insured or, if they have insurance and your judgment exceeds the total of their insurance, i.e. they have $25k in coverage and your judgment is $50k - you have a claim for the additional $25k against your UM policy.
5. Up to you - that is the art of negotiation! You start at one number and they start at a lower number and then you negotiate and see where it goes. They may get to a number that works for you.
Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer
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