If my leased car was totaled, what’s my recourse for collecting payments paid out on my lease?

UPDATED: Feb 17, 2011

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If my leased car was totaled, what’s my recourse for collecting payments paid out on my lease?

My car was hit from behind by a lady on the freeway. I ended up hitting the car in front of me which hit the one in front of it; this caused a 5 car pile up. The lady was found at fault. My insurance company just totaled my car despite it being a 2008 model and will be paying the lease company the rest of my gap payments. This leaves me in the cold with no car and all the lease payments for more than 3 years are gone. Can I collect from the opposing insurance company for the lease payments that I have been paying on the car?

Asked on February 17, 2011 under Accident Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot pay collect from either the other insurance company or the other driver for payments you made in the past to lease your car. You have not lost anything in that regard: for example, say you leased the car Dec. 1 and paid for December; the car was hit and totaled Jan. 5. Since you had the use of the car for December, you received the value you were paying for by making the payment; you have lost nothing and have nothing to sue for. You paid for December, you had a car in December. If you paid the full amount for Jan. but only had the car for 5 days, then you should in one fashion or another (as cash, as a credit towards other amounts owed, etc.) get compensation for the other 5/6 of that month, since you paid up front and did not get what  you were paying for; but that'd be it.

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