What are my rights if city dump truck T-boned my car? the damage is estimated at $20K and that is the settlement the city is offering me.

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What are my rights if city dump truck T-boned my car? the damage is estimated at $20K and that is the settlement the city is offering me.

The damage is estimated at $20K and that is the settlement the city is offering me. My vehicle will probably never be same after they fix it, plus now I have lost value in since it was involved in a major accident with air bags deployed. What are my options? Can I request the city to give me the trade in value of my car before it was involved in the accident, which would be approximately $35K? I don’t want to drive a new wrecked vegicle. The City is under a tort liability.

Asked on May 9, 2014 under Accident Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

At the end of the day, the obligation of someone who negligently (carelessly) damages another's property is typically to pay either the cost to repair, if it can be repaired; or the then-current fair market (e.g. blue book) value, if it cannot be repaired and must be totalled. If you car can be repaired, then even though you have suffered some loss in value, that repair cost is most likely all you could recover from them.

You could reject the offer and attempt to sue them and also recover, in addition to the repair value, some amount of depreciation (the degree to which it is worth less), but 1) that can be difficult and expensive to show (you would need some expert witnesses, such as care dealers, insurance adjusters, etc. to testify as to the depreciation; and you'd typically have to pay for their time); and also 2) the degree of depreciation will not be the total difference between the amount offered ($20k) and what you say the trade-in value is ($35k)--it might be, for example, another $3k - $5k (the reduction in potential trade in value due to the accident). It is unclear whether the time, cost, and uncertainty (since you are never guaranteed to win) of a lawsuit is worth that potential additional gain; you may be best off taking the $20k without having to go through a lawsuit. The fact that you personally do not want to drive "a new wrecked vehicle" is irrelevant: personal preferences are not factored in.


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