My car is going to be totaled following an accident that was not my fault. How do I protect my rights?

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My car is going to be totaled following an accident that was not my fault. How do I protect my rights?

The ins. co. of the other driver seems very uncooperative about even minor requests, like a rental on the 3rd day after the accident. This makes me feel like I won’t get a fair settlement. My car was a restored classic car I did in high school which seems like it could complicate matters,.

Asked on March 26, 2009 under Accident Law, Alabama

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

You do not have to accept the other driver's insurance company's offer.

The other driver and his insurance company are only obligated to pay the lesser of the repair cost or the fair market value of the damaged car.

That this damaged car has sentimental value to you above and beyond the market value is not relevant; you're not going to get sentimental value.

You can say you will accept the fair market value of the car but as it is totalled you'll credit them the salvage value and keep the car (which they would sell for scrap or salvage).

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

If you have collision coverage, let your auto insurance company handle it, absorb the deductible (you'll likely get most of it back when it goes after the other driver's insurance company). Your carrier owes you a duty of good faith.

If not you'll likely have a hard time as the other driver's carrier is not your friend, but your adversary. It does not owe you more than the minimum the law requires.

One technique is just to file a claim in small claims court. That sometimes causes the other driver's carrier to up its offer, and sometimes causes them to say prove it in court and hope you make a mistake.

You'd have to prove both that the other driver was at fault AND your damages to win. A paid repair bill is usually the best evidence of the principal damages, and without one in some courts you'd have to bring an expert to testify as to what the cost would be to repair it. If the value of the car before the accident was less than the cost to repair it, all you'd get is the fair market value of the car before the accident -- sentimental value is not a legal measure of damages.

 


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