Personal Injury Law (Accidents/Slip & Fall)/Auto Accident on Naval Base


QUESTION: Mr. Smith,

I was driving into a parking space at a FL naval base (I am a civilian) when another driver who was backing out from the space next to mine, scraped my driver's side door.  He was an active duty sailor.  No one was injured.  There were no witnesses.  I only have liability insurance.  I do not have collision or comprehensive insurance.  The naval police investigated and a report was given to me and the other driver, but no one was found to be at fault.

The other driver's insurance company refuses to pay.  If I have to sue the driver, would I file suit at my nearest federal district court?  Is there a version of "small claims" in fed dist court?  I can't find anything online about how to proceed in a case like this, and this case is way too small for a lawyer to take.  Thanks for your advice.

ANSWER: I would file in the local Small Claims Court assuming damages are within the limits of the court.
Be aware that you might have a problem if he asserts a defense under the Soldiers And Sailors Relief Act.

Call me if you'd like.

Ed Smith
Law Offices of Ed Smith
Sacramento, CA 95815

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for your reply, but since the accident occurred on a naval base, which is federal property, don't I have to file in federal court?  This happened at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, FL.  How could a small claims court in Pensacola have jurisdiction over an accident on a military installation? I am perplexed.

you'll need to check on the law in your state, But I have filed in State Court here in California many times in cases on military bases, with no removal requested.

Here's a case that illustrates the principle...

Kitchens v. Duffield, 83 Ohio App. 41, 76 N.E.2d 101 (1947):

Auto accident at Lockbourne Army Air Base in Ohio; court held state laws were applicable to case via Congressional act; aff'd, Kitchens v. Duffield, 149 Ohio St. 500, 79 N.E.2d 906 (1948).

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Edward A. Smith


California Personal Injury lawyer with 18 years of experience handling automobile accidents, dogbites, slip and fall cases as well as medical malpractice cases will answer your questions regarding these areas. Valuestar Certified. Author of "Top 20 PI sites on the Internet" for Law Office Computing Magazine.

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