I was in a car accident and my car was brand new, can I get a new replacement car?

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I was in a car accident and my car was brand new, can I get a new replacement car?

A car rear-ended me and knocked my car forward and hit the car in the front; 3 cars were involved. It is the fault of the driver behind. Nobody was injured. Police came and had a report. My car is brand new, just a month old, with less than 700 miles on it. There are damages in the front and back bumper and engine hood. The hit speed was about 15-25 mph. I am also worried about internal damages. The car is still drivable but could I get a new replacement car? If not, how much lost can I claim (including diminished resale value, projected repair cost, etc)?

Asked on February 6, 2011 under Accident Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) Even if the car were totaled, you would generally not be able to get a new replacement car. When a car is totalled, the usual compensation under the vast majority of insurance policies is the then-current value of the car; however, since cars depreciate as soon as they drive off the lot, that value will be less than the replacement value (and less than what you owe under financing or a lease as well in most cases, unless you had gap insurance.)

(I think one company recently started offering a car replacement policy, but I can't remember which; and it would only apply to customers who have that specific policy.)

2) If the car was damaged but not totalled, there is recovery for the repair cost (parts and labor) and possibly (depending on the policy and circumstances) other out-of-pocket costs, such as towing, rental of a replacment car, etc. However, I do not believe that insurers will pay for any dimunition in value occasioned by the fact that a car was in an accident and repaired rather than never damaged; they pay to repair the car, but not to put you in as good a position as you would have been without the accident.

To sum it up: if the car is totaled, you get its then current value; if it's repairable, you get the repair cost; you don't get a new replacement car and don't get compensation for dimunition of value.


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