San Jose, CA asked in Car Accidents, Construction Law and Small Claims for California

Q: What are my options when trying to recoup vehicle repair costs associated with damage caused by Caltrans' subcontractor?

Hello,

Significant vehicle damage was incurred due to freeway construction debris collision with my vehicle. Caltrans claim was submitted by both my vehicle insurance and myself. Caltrans responded about a year later to my insurance, stating that this instance was caused by their subcontractor Bay Cities Paving and Grading, and hence is not their responsibility. I never got a response to my own portion of Caltrans claim.

My insurance was unable to establish contact with Bay Cities Paving and Grading. I attempted contacting them as well, with no success.

My insurance paid for the repair costs, and has closed the claim due to inability to recover costs from the responsible party.

It seems that the only option remaining is to attempt to recover repair costs, and hold the responsible contractor accountable myself. Thus, before I do that, I would certainly appreciate any and all legal advice on how to go about this process.

5 Lawyer Answers
Robert Dourian
Robert Dourian
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Pasadena, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I sounds like your options have narrowed down to filing an action for property damages. It is not so clear that CALTRANS is not responsible, but its all about the actual facts and circumstances. This matter may not make sense for an attorney to take on if the dollar amount of the damage is low. Small claims is always an option if the damages are less than 10K. Good luck.

Dale S. Gribow
Dale S. Gribow
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Palm Desert, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: more info needed

if your ins co paid for all the repairs then what are you out?

they can go after the party at fault but you can't collect twice.

if there is money owing file in small claims for up to $10k. You might have to hire an investigator to find some of the parties.

Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II
Answered
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Sue Caltrans and Bay Cities in Small Claims for your deductible and any expenses that were not covered by your insurance.

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Donald M Barker
Donald M Barker
Answered
  • Construction Law Lawyer
  • irvine, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You write: "My insurance paid for the repair costs, and has closed the claim due to inability to recover costs from the responsible party."

If you are out no monies, then let it go. Your insurance has the "Subrogation" right to seek reimbursement for monies it paid to you, due to subcontractor's negligence. If you collect monies from the Sub, you're obligated to pay those monies back to your insurer.

Why would you do all that work and effort for free?

That's why you pay premiums.

William John Light
William John Light
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: It's unclear what you are trying to recover. Your insurer apparently paid for the repair. The right to pursue the at fault party for the repair costs belong to your insurer. If you are trying to recover your deductible, you retain that right, but you must obtain your insurer's consent because you both own a portion of one claim and both parts must be presented at the same time, or the other part is lost. If you pursue the deductible without your insurer's consent, you will have destroyed the insurer's right to seek recovery and you will be in breach of your insurance contract with it.

As for Bay Cities Paving and Grading, I located an address for it within seconds. Send a letter with your demands for compensation and/or its insurance information. If you are unsuccessful in resolving the claim, sue in Small Claims for up to $10k.

You can also sue Caltrans, but must first file a Tort Claim within 6 months of the injury or loss. That 6 month window appears to have closed long ago.

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