Going to small claims court is not a fun experience, especially when the other side is more prepared for trial than you are. How do you get prepared for trial? Here is a story of a person who was in an accident because the bolts that hold a part on broke. The part that was held on has a Recall on it from the NHTSA department. The bolts that hold that Recall part on, is what broke and caused an accident. The customer did not cause the accident but his repairs were dropped anyway because he was blamed for the accident not by law but by the dealership he trusted.
I recently had a Small Claim appearance for a customer who had purchased a new truck back in 2003 and took good care of it on regular bases. The story I will tell you is about an accident he has because of a defective part that has a Recall on it. My customer had to file a Small Claim complaint to get satisfied. By the way the Small Claims Court can be used for car repairs, body damage even Diminished Value or actually anything between two or more people.
Back in 2010 he had an accident and totaled out the truck. First I will tell you about the accident. I will tell you about the process you will need to take in order to prepare for court in hope to get the results you want. When you actually go to court in front of a Judge to explain why you are there you need to be prepared, I will give you detail instruction later in the story.
When I met my customer he stated he was having problem and did not know where or who to turn to, he was not from America and only liver here for a short time and his English is very broken. I ask what happened and if he had an attorney. He said no and he did not know much about what to do. He did as his Insurance Company told him to do. His passenger was hurt and the Insurance Company took care of him. But the owner is still without a truck or transportation and needs help.
He contacted three Personal Injury attorneys and sent them all his paper work and they all stated he waited too long to do anything and he was not hurt. He was advised to file for damages in Small Claims Court and so he did that, and did it just in time. It is my understanding you have one year to file your claim.
My customer found me at my web site lemonprotection.com. He called me and asks me to do an inspection and attempt to determine the cause of the accident so I accepted the job. I ask exactly what happened when he was driving, what speed he was going, what lane he was in, was the truck making any noise, did he feel anything unusual vibration. These are question you need to be able to answer in court if it is based on an accident filing.
He stated he was running around 65/70 mph in the car pool lane, he stated the truck started to vibrate the front dropped down and he hit the wall and that was it. He stated the Air Bags did not go off when he hit the wall. I ask how the road condition was, were you going straight or was the road curved. He said the road was straight and flat with good condition, what lane was you in when this happened? Here are more questions you need to know and be able to answer as well.
The police came and had the vehicle towed, later it was moved to the dealership for inspection as recommended by his insurance company. The dealership inspected the truck and said the lower ball joint did not come apart as the NHTSA Recall was issued for. He was told the dealership does not have to fix the truck. He responded you have a Recall on that part and they stated the recall is not the part that broke, but the bolts that hold that part on are what broke. How dumb does that sound? The Recall NHTSA # is for the lower ball joint but it was his fault for the accident because the bolts broke instead of the ball joint it is holding.
His insurance refused to fix the truck based on their finding saying it was his fault that caused the accident.
I was ask to do an inspection and attempt to determine what happened and if possible what caused the accident. I went to the client home and photo the truck from every direction. I paid close attention to the impact area and the steering and suspension parts based on his explanation.
Upon inspection I found the lower control arm bolts have broken off leaving one extended ½ an inch indicating loose bolts and the bolt head popped off leaving the stud.
The inside steering knuckle at the backing plate held the truck up as it spun around and the hit the wall. When the right front wheel folding under it caused the truck to spin around and hit the wall with the right front of the truck. This spin around impact caused the right front tire to get punctured and blow out but there was no wheel damage.
The right rear was also damaged from the truck after impact to the right front area, the truck continued to bounce back and around causing the rear right side impact. The truck was traveling North bound and hit the right front corner and appeared to be traveling from the South bound direction. This was caused by the lower control arm bolts breaking off and the wheel folding under as it did.
It was our turn to stand before the Honorable Judge. The other side presented their evidence attacking the owners because he did not use the dealership for maintenance and repairs. I was called in to tell what I witnessed. I first had to prove I am an ASE Certified professional and also proved I have an Appraisal certificate and that I did.
I then proceeded to explain how I did my inspection and I had photos to prove it. I explained how the accident happened and was very clear in every detail.
The Judge asks me how about the tire the other side stated that blow out and caused the accident because it was bald. I said your Honor that cannot happen; he was on flat dry straight road. The tire blows out at the point of impact by the bumper gouging the tire causing tire blowout, he was not in rain or in a curve. The Judge ask me about all the tires being slick, I ask to see opposing counsel photo they had and explained the tires have some tread on them but not slick as the other side is stating. I also explained the 3/8 steel bolts don’t sheer off from an impact and the other side Technician stated he has seen hundreds of bolts at that place sheer off because of impact. I told the Judge that is not true and he knows that because the other parts related are not damaged as he attempted to say.
Going to court and here is what you will need;
1) Information on vehicle
2) Date of accident or issue
3) Place of accident
4) Illustration or photos
5) Witness if any or Notarized statement from witness if not present
6) Expert witness if you have one
7) Report of expert witness if written
8) What is your complaint
9) Do you have photos if no get some, if yes bring them, they must be clear and blown up 8/10 if possible to show the damage you are complain about
10) Get someone you can trust and is certified to inspect your vehicle and is willing to go to court with you. Be sure they witnessed your problem so they can explain the issue you are there for.
11) Proof of all evidence is your key, you must be able to paint a very clear picture and have documents to prove it, receipts dates and times, phone record and recording. Photos work well in accident damages or repairs. Notes, letters e-mils are all very important.
12) Explain you story in a very slow step by step review of the event.
13) When the other side speaking do not over speak that person it will make a difference, it shows animosity, you will get a chance to speak.
14) Always be polite to a Judge and be respectful as well as dress proper with clean shaven and heir combed, this all make a difference.
15) The more information your mechanic has about your car and the problems or accident information he has the better he can help describe his finding for court.
You only have one chance and you need to do the best you can. The truth is the one that paints the best picture will likely win, the judge and jury like photo and videos, this gives them something to use to help them decide for you. Good luck and get prepared.
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Lemonprotection.com and see names of law firms my over 3,500 clients have used for their Lemon Law cases.
NOTE: We are not a law firm and do not give legal advice, this information I am giving is information I have acquired over the years of doing lemon law inspection and going to trial as an expert.
If you need an expert to go with your to court call me. If you need an attorney go to my web site for the list of attorneys over 3500 people have used and been satisfied with.