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Civil court preparation after small claims win

Discussion in 'Auto Accidents, Injuries' started by Klockdoc, Oct 8, 2019.

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  1. Klockdoc

    Klockdoc Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Missouri
    My auto was involved in an accident. The defendant admitted to damages. Her insurance tried to low ball me and offered an amount that was way under the value of my auto. I went to small claims court and presented material that showed the value of my auto was higher than what the insurance company was offering. I was awarded $5000 plus court costs. The insurance company for the defendant appealed the case. Now it goes to civil court against the insurance company's attorney.

    My question here is what am I missing? Do I still have the opportunity to discuss my situation with the judge being in civil court? Do I have to file certain documents in order to admit evidence to the court? Certain rules of evidence that need to be followed? I have a feeling that I am going to be blind sided here.

    The money difference from what the offered value of the car versus what I was awarded doesn't justify my hiring an attorney. I think I have enough documentation that back up my reasoning for the increased value. I'm just concerned that I will not be able to present it.

    Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure what "tried to low ball" means and assume you meant that her insurer did low ball you. However, I'm wondering if the offer that "was way under the value of [your] auto" is an indication that the insurer didn't think your car was a total loss. After all, the only way you'd be entitled to "the value of [your] auto" would be if it were a total loss.

    Not sure I understand this question. Why do you think you are missing something?

    I'm not sure exactly what you mean. If you continue to act as your own attorney, there will likely be scheduling or case management conferences during which you and the defendant's attorney will "discuss" certain aspects of the case with a judge (or, if you hire an attorney, the two attorneys and the judge will do it).

    How you get a document admitted into evidence depends on the context (e.g., trial, motion for summary judgment, some other pretrial motion, etc.).

    Yes, as well as rules of civil procedure.

    I doubt you'll be blindsided, but there's a good chance you'll be overwhelmed.

    It will very likely be to your benefit to try and negotiate a settlement.
     
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  3. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    No, in REAL court, not FAKE small claims NOTHING court, the case is tried.

    I suggest you endeavor to educate yourself about your state's civil and trial procedure for civil trials.

    Yes, educate yourself about civil court trial procedure.

    Most court website's will offer tips to "pro se" litigants, that's you, mate.


    Only IF you refuse to educate yourself.

    Lesson learned, huh?

    When you fight insurance companies, they'll spend $50,000 to keep you from getting $5,000.
     
  4. Klockdoc

    Klockdoc Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Well I'm not afraid to educate myself. That is the purpose of the questions here. To find out how to proceed legally.Thank you very much for the links. I will review them.

    The insurance company originally totaled my auto. The amount offered wasn't close to comparable vehicles from various sources. I presented the facts and the judge agreed.

    Can I submit the same documentation in this court as I did in SC court or do I have to follow certain procedures in order to file it with the court.

    The judge in the SC court received an damaging statement from the defendants estimator that benefited me. Would there be a transcript of the SC court trial that could be introduced into the civil court? Is there certain procedures that have to be followed to introduce this testimony?
     
  5. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Great, then its time for you to get busy.


    Once you are served, or if you have been served, go tot he court's website and seek information from the court for "pro se litigants".

    Small claims courts are NOT "courts of record".

    I'll allow you to research that term.

    You can contact the "small claims court" and see if the court has the ability to provide you with a record of trail, or transcript.



    Yes, which is why I suggested you familiarize yourself with "civil procedure" and "trial procedure" for the courts in your state.

    ============================

    NOTE: Your opposing counsel is probably paid a retainer, and what I call a bounty, for successfully overturning your small claims court judgment.

    Steel yourself for a difficult and contentious trial.

    Be prepared to see new evidence from the insurance company contradicting your evidence regarding the value of your vehicle.

    If I were you, I'd make sure I have my ducks in a row.
     
  6. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Since we don't know what documentation you submitted, we cannot comment intelligently about its potential admissibility. That said, you should be aware that rules of evidence are generally quite relaxed in small claims court.

    Small claims court matters are rarely recorded, but you certainly can inquire of the court clerk.

    Yes. What you probably need to do is call the same person as a witness. If he/she doesn't testify in the same manner, you should be able to use the prior testimony to cross-examine and impeach him/her.
     
  7. Klockdoc

    Klockdoc Law Topic Starter New Member

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    The documentation I provided was receipts of improvements to the vehicle
    New rebuilt Motor showing only 34000 miles versus actual miles of original damaged motor
    New fuel pump
    New windshield replace 2 weeks before accident
    Replacement transmission
    and several other receipts indicating that I kept up mechanically with the auto placing it in a higher range pricewise of used cars.

    Will I need affidavits from the mechanics in order to introduce these as evidence into court?

    If so, How are these presented to the court? Do I have to send a copy of these to the attorney before the court date? How many days before?

    I am using the estimate provided by the insurance company. Since they originally offered a rental car in order to have my car repaired, can I still request this in the argument?

    The original estimate provided by the "defendants" insurance company indicated $4820.20 for repairs. Hidden damage was an additional $695. I knew that I couldn't request this entire amount in SC court, that is why the judgement was for $5000 because I couldn't go over that. I can introduce them now though, can't I?


    I will check with the court. I may have to go this route.
     
  8. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Those weren't "improvements" - those were repairs. Cars are expected to have properly functioning engines, fuel pumps, transmissions and windshields.
     
  9. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    You're questions are going beyond what we can do on a message board. We can't walk you through the process of how to get evidence admitted. That's something that law students study for a semester but don't really learn until they've been in practice for at least several months.

    What I can tell you is that, in the context of a civil trial, you need live testimony, not affidavits, to authenticate documents. In other contexts (e.g., pretrial motions), affidavits may be sufficient.
     
  10. Klockdoc

    Klockdoc Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Mmmm.So your saying that automobiles with less mileage on them are not worth
    Mmmm. So you're saying that an auto with less mileage and wear and tear on components isn't worth anymore than an automobile of higher mileage?

    OK
     
  11. Klockdoc

    Klockdoc Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Well thanks for responding. This a trial de novo if that changes things
     
  12. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    The car has the same mileage on it, so that's irrelevant.

    An auto with a used transmission and used motor, both of unknown provenance...yeah, those don't increase the value.
     
  13. Klockdoc

    Klockdoc Law Topic Starter New Member

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    As stated above, It was a NEW rebuilt engine. The auto only had 34000 miles on it since it was replaced.

    The transmission and transfer case had documented mileage from the source.
     
  14. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    If it was "rebuilt", then it wasn't "new"...and it's got 34,000 miles on it since it was rebuilt. I'm sorry you disagree, but the fact is that those things don't increase the value of the car.
     
  15. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I missed this...

    Documented mileage doesn't speak to the kind of conditions under which those miles were accumulated.
     
  16. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    You now own a non-numbers match car. It will be of considerably less value than the same car with the engine and transmission that came in the car.
     
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  17. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I agree, but to the OP's credit, he managed to convince a small claims judge otherwise.

    His win, however, has been appealed by the insurer.

    Going forward, I'm guessing OP won't like what happens next.

    He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have. ~ Socrates
     
  18. Klockdoc

    Klockdoc Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Seems the Judge in the first trial didn't share your opinion.
     
  19. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    You're right - judges make mistakes just like anyone else. Of course, it doesn't matter since the matter has been appealed. You're much more likely to get a judge who gets it right this time.
     
  20. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Doesn't change anything I previously wrote. A trial de novo is simply a do-over -- i.e., it's a brand new trial, with the results of the prior proceedings being meaningless, but now subject to the rules of the regular civil court.
     

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