If I was involved in an auto accident for which I was not at fault, why can’t I be compensated for lost wages if I’m not on the title?

UPDATED: Oct 16, 2014

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If I was involved in an auto accident for which I was not at fault, why can’t I be compensated for lost wages if I’m not on the title?

The other driver admitted fault. He rear-ended me at 45 mph and totaled my vehicle. I am in real estate and can’t work without a car. they only gave me $1500 for the car. I had to refer business out for the next 6 months until I could afford to buy another car. I have proved up over 40k in lost compensation and commissions due too ahaving to refer out business. I was told that now I can’t collect because the car was registered in my boyfriend’s name and not mine. He lives in another state and gave me the car when I lost my car in a bankruptcy. I have had the car for 4 years and am on the insurance.

Asked on October 16, 2014 under Accident Law, Nevada


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

There are two problems.

The first is that if you were not the owner of the car--legally that is; and if it was not registered or titled to you, you were not the legal owner--tben in the eyes of the law, you were not deprived of its use. A non-owner cannot be deprived of the use of something which was not even his or hers to begin with.

Second, even if you were the owner, you'd never recover 6 months of wages for lack of use of the car. You can only recover lost wages directly and reasonably related to the loss of use of the car; e.g. a few days worth, while you make alternative transportation arrangements.  But that's the point: you have to "mitigate your damages" by making alternative arrangements, and if you truly had $40k in wages at stake, you are expected to find some other way to get around, whether it's buying a junker, renting or leasing a car, taking out a loan to get a car, hiring someone to drive you, etc. The law would not consider it reasonable to not work for 6 months simply due to a car being totalled.

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