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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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My contractor hired a guy, who stole $40,000.00 worth of jewelry

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My contractor hired a guy, who stole $40,000.00 worth of jewelry when he left him in the house by himself. I have a judgement against this person, but now the contractor's insurance is still putting me off until a restitution hearing in Sept. and wants pictures/appraisals, etc. even though I sent him an itemized list and the court has one, too. This has been going on since Nov. 2012. (Oklahoma)

I do not have pictures of many of these items, as they were heirlooms, gifts, etc. This guy stole only gold and diamond items and went to the nearest gold and diamond place and sold them.

Do I need to hire a lawyer and sue the contractor or do I need to wait until after the restitution hearing? The guy who stole the items is a drug addict and the District Attorney says I probably won't get anything.

Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am very sorry for your situation. Can you please explain whether or not your judgment is against he contractor, or, the sub-contractor (who actually committed the theft)?

This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It is against the subcontractor.

Thank you, G.

Do I need to hire a lawyer and sue the contractor or do I need to wait until after the restitution hearing?

You may need to retain counsel. Allow me to explain.

Once someone becomes possibly liable you and they have insurance, the insurance is liable for a limited amount of the judgment that you'd get against the contractor if you sue them. Ergo, to avoid paying out huge sums from a judgment where their insured is likely responsible, if the insurance policy covers subcontractor acts, the insurance company likes to settle the claim to avoid litigation. Once an agreement is reached, you sign a release and waive your rights to sue in exchange for the payout.

But, how does one reach that settlement? The insurance adjuster. The adjuster's job is to make you miserable. They will ignore you, confuse you, and ask for redundant and seemingly needless paperwork in an effort to talk you into a small settlement or have you give up all-together. Sounds familiar? And remember, statute of limitations usually only gives you a limited time to file suit - 2 years (Tit. 12 §95(3)). They know this; they hope you do not. If you miss the two year mark, you can no longer file against their insured, which means they do not even have to work with you.

Not that they have to, but because they know that you'll at least get that in Court.

An attorney usually cuts through this malarkey since the adjuster knows counsel does not put up with this and WILL file suit if needed (whereas here, they do not see you as much of a threat without an attorney since you filing or winning a suit without counsel is unlikely). Then a settlement is usually reached. The attorney should take this on a contingency basis, meaning they do not get paid unless you do. Usual set up is their take is 33% settlement, 40% win at trial, 45% at appeal; plus some office costs. Everything is negotiable.

May I recommend the Martindale Hubble directory - here. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.

Now, the reason why the insurance company wishes to wait until the restitution hearing is because whatever the Court assigns the subcontractor to pay back, they will try to extract from payment. However, you have no guarantee that the subcontractor will make good on the restitution. So they are attempting to waste time and use false facts here. An attorney is recommended.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.

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