What are my rights to damages if someone backed into my car?

A driver backed into my car and his insurance company said they accepted full responsibility. I had 2 estimates done, one for $2600 the other for $2800. The insurance company sent out an estimator that came up with an $1800 estimate. They then sent me a check for $1800. I haven’t cashed it yet. I told them that I should get $2600; they said $1800 was all I was getting. However, if I take my car to the body shop any cost over $1800 will go directly to the body shop. Is this the way it works?

Asked on June 4, 2014 under Accident Law, Texas

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you haven't signed a settlement agreement, you can reject the settlement offer and file a lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault driver.  If you cash the check, you have accepted the settlement offer and won't be able to sue the at-fault driver because a settlement includes a release of your claim against the at-fault party.

You can file your lawsuit in Small Claims Court.  Your damages would be the property damage to your vehicle (cost of repairs) and rental car expense while your car is being repaired.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by selecting a rental car with a reasonable rate.  If you were to select the most expensive rental car you could find, your damages will be reduced accordingly because you have failed to mitigate damages.  Your damages should also include court costs (the court filing fee and process server fee).

You are correct that payment for property damage usually goes directly from the insurance company to the auto body shop.


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