We were recently hit by a drunk driver and our vehicle was totaled. The insurance company is now claiming that the driver did not have the policy holder’s permission to drive the vehichle. There are sevearl parties involved – the registed owner of the vehehicle, the registered owner’s boyfriend who is the policy holder and the drunk driver who is the boyfriend of the registered owner’s daughter. The other insured is claiming the driver did not have his permission to drive the vehicle, though no stolen vehicle report was filled and his daughter was in the vehicle at the time of the accident. If the insurance company denies our claim due to permissive use, who can I sue?
The good news is, you have options:
First, because drunk driving is a crime, you have restitution rights through the criminal courts. According to an article by Neal Fhima, typically, the victim advocate office from the court will contact you to explain your restitution rights and what needs to be done. You usually will not need a lawyer to make a restitution claim but the amount of money you can claim is limited to your out of pocket expenses. Even though you have other options, you should always protect your restitution rights.
Second, you can bring a claim against the at-fault driver. If the insurance company continues to deny coverage, under the right circumstances you may work out an agreement (called a Damron agreement) with the at-fault driver that will allow you to obtain a judgment against the him and then get an assignment of that judgment which will allow you to bring a lawsuit against the insurer that denied coverage. This is called a bad faith case.
Third, you may have a claim against the owner of the vehicle if he was negligent in entrusting the vehicle to the at-fault driver.
Your best option at this point is to meet with an experienced Arizona personal injury attorney to discuss your options. Remember, there are deadlines that affect your case so you should act quickly.
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