What are my rights if during tire service, the hood to my car was opened and left unlatched and it came open when I drove my mother/the owner away?

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What are my rights if during tire service, the hood to my car was opened and left unlatched and it came open when I drove my mother/the owner away?

The tech verbally admitted fault, then filed a claim for us with the company that handles their claims. We sent them two repair estimates both of which were within 10% of the vehicles ACV. The adjusters initial offer was the cost of repairs plus $200 for loss of use. Which is roughly $20 per diem as of that date but repairs will take a month. The owner/passenger has PTSD and anxiety issues and a strong attachment to that vehicle after surviving a serious collision. Is this an unfair offer based on reasonable recoverable damages? If repairs are more than quoted will signing a release of liability leave us responsible?

Asked on December 6, 2014 under Accident Law, Arkansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

1) The owner/passenger's PTSD and attachment to the vehicle are, for settlemen purposes irrelevant. The law does not take the owner's emotional or mental state into account in determining compensation.

2) While it would be ideal to be able to get more if the repairs come in at higher than expected, it's unlikely that the insurer will accept a settlement that is "open ended"--they want to have their liability absolutely fixed or certain. You can work around this by a) getting the repair shop to agree to a fixed price, or b) not settling until you have a final price.

3) If you went to trial and won, you might very well get more in a "per diem" award--e.g. rental costs for each day you actually have to rent a replacement vehicle, which would likely be more than the $200 for loss of use you describe. On the other hand, to get more, you'd have to go to trial and win, which has its own costs, can take months (or longer), and is never 100% certain (even good cases sometimes lose). It's probably worthwhile to take a few hundred dollars less than you might optimally get to resolve matters quickly, easily, and inexpensively by settlement.


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