My 14 month old car caught on fire, what should I do legally?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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My 14 month old car caught on fire, what should I do legally?

I have a vehicle that we bought it new 15 months ago. While driving it a few weeks ago, the windshield wipers starting working without me doing any thing. I was going to pull over but before I could smoke started poring into the cabin. After parking it smoke was poring out the hood. I saw some flames and luckily the fire died down and the fire department pored water on it. Meanwhile, I am now working with GM Assistance. I have not received any final numbers from them except they are going to buy back my vehicle. Funny part of this is, that they quickly decided to buy it back from me without even doing a full investigation They are saying that I will be charged for the miles on my vehicle. I dont think I should have to be charged for the miles because I was not wanting to even sell it or trade it in the first place. I am sure that if I was to sue them, I would probably do pretty well. However, I don’t want to go through all that. I really just want a brand new vehicle, bigger and better than the one I currently have, and have the same if not lower payments that I am currently making. What should I ask for? What should I say? What should I demand?

Asked on September 24, 2016 under Accident Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Why should you get a "bigger and better" vehicle with the "same if not lower payments'--when proprety (including a vehicle) is destroyed due to someone else's fault (such as design or manufacturing error), the party responsible for the destruction (e.g. GM) only owes you the then-current value of the property/vehicle--they don't owe you more than what the destroyed vehicle was worth. Therefore, they would not legally owe you a "bigger and better" vehicle and do not have to give you lower payments; and they can effectively charge you for the miles, since they only owe you the then-current fair market value of your vehicle, which is depreciated for its mileage (i.e. your vehicle, after begin driven for more than a year, is not worth as much as it was new). Based on what you write, what they are offering you is reasonable, and you are not likely to do better in a lawsuit than what is being offered.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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