What to do if I need to take an insurance company to court?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What to do if I need to take an insurance company to court?

My vehicle was in a wreck and there were no injuries. My vehicle should have been totaled, but was repaired instead. There has been numerous problems with it since the day I got it back. They missed many things that were wrong in the engine area that was later found, some things still undetermined. This has been going on for almost a year and my vehicle is completely unsafe to drive now due to us riding around on broken motor mounts for as long as we did. There is still serious problems with the vehicle and the insurer has refused to help further find the problems going on with my vehicle. What kind of attorney do I need?

Asked on October 27, 2016 under Accident Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

To the extent the problem was with the work the original repair shop did, the insurer is *not* liable for that--you'd have to sue the repair shop, not Geico. Geico is only liable to the extent they refused to make payments which they should have...and in that regard, note that the law does NOT require vehicles to be totalled--ever. An insurer has the option of choosing either to total it or repair it; it is the insurer's choice, and are entitled, for example, to do the one they feel more cost effective. So if the issue you have with Geico is that you believe they should have totalled it but they wanted to repair it, that's not something you can sue over--they had the right to make that choice. And again, if the problem is that they work was not done right, that's something to sue the shop, not insurer, over.
This suit may not be economically worthwhile:
1) It's always more complex and costly to sue someone in another state;
2) You will need to hire (and therefore pay for) an automotive expert (e.g. an expert repair person) to examine your car, write a report, and possibly testify--and this cost will be in addition to the cost of a lawyer (if you hire one) and the court/filing fees.
Unless you are talking many thousands of dollars in new repair costs to set things right--in my area (northern NJ), I'd say over $10,000 to really make the case worthwhile to bring, given how expensive litigation here is--you are probably better off not suing. If you choose to sue, any lawyer with experiece in business disputes (since that's fundamentally what this is--a claim the shop didn't do what they were paid to do) should be able  to help you.

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