What are my rights if my insurance company had my car towed from a body shop to one of their lots and it was seriously damaged?

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What are my rights if my insurance company had my car towed from a body shop to one of their lots and it was seriously damaged?

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Asked on February 9, 2017 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) You are entitled to whatever your insurance policies (e.g. collision coverage) give you from the insurer in a case like this, if you have relevant coverage and put in a claim. But if you don't have the relevant coverage, then the insurer would not have to pay you, even if they asked for or requested the tow, unless the tow truck operator was actually their employee.
2) You could also or in addition sue the person "at fault" in damaging your vehicle--e.g. the tow truck operator--if you can show that it was their fault; i.e. that they caused the damage through their negligence or carelessness. (They are only liable, or resposible to pay, if they were at fault in some way.) If the tow truck driver worked for someone else (instead of being self-employed), you could also sue his employer as well, since under the legal theory of "respondeat superior," an employer is liable for his employee's negligence committed in the course of employment.
Note that they don't owe you a replacement or new car, unless you had "new car" replacement on an applicable insurance policy. Otherwise, whether it is the insurer or the tow truck operator, they owe you the lesser of a) the cost to repair your car, or b) it's then-current fair market, or blue book value (which will be less than the new car cost).


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