What You Need To Know About Auto Insurance Damage Claims


Law of damages. You read in the paper about damages. What does the word damages mean in a legal sense? The correct answer is that damages means the compensation which the law will grant for an injury or loss.

There are approximately forty different kinds of damages that are considered by the courts and in law books-all the result of our complicated civilization. Damage to automobiles. In nine out of ten cases, if someone caused minor damage to your vehicle, you’d be satisfied to get your repair bill.

The practical move to make is to get a repair estimate from a reliable garage. Tell the garage man you need an estimate of how much it will cost to put the car back the way it was before the accident.

You are entitled to the amount of the estimate (the reasonable cost of repairs) even when you never have it repaired.

Often times you’d be eligible for something more than the cost of repairs. Then you get into legal rules of damages, which the courts explain by saying: The measure of damages for injury to property caused from negligence is the difference in the market price directly before and immediately after the accident, or the reasonable cost of repairs necessary to restore it to its former condition, whichever is the lesser.

In a court case the man who sued claimed a difference in market price before and after the accident of 1,050. An acceptable repair estimate was $600. The Court disallowed damages for difference in market value by saying: there’s no claim that the automobile could not be fully restored to its former condition by the repairs contemplated in the estimate.

Loss of use of an automobile pending its repair can be an element of damage. Most insurance companies discourage claims for loss of use. Here theory comes in conflict with everyday practice.The owner of a car is entitled to its rental value- whether the car is used in business or for pleasure. Most courts allow the rental value of the car pending repair notwithstanding the fact that the owner did not hire another car. But most insurance adjusters allow for loss of use only if another car is actually hired.

Loss of use applies only to the time required for repairs. You can not collect for the period prior to commencement of repairs while waiting for an adjuster to view your damage.

Loss of profits. Proving the value of the loss of use of a damaged automobile should not be confused with loss of profits.

Where a taxicab is damaged, the owner is allowed to recover for the rental value of a substitute cab while his is undergoing repairs. He is not allowed to recover the average profit which he was making from the use of the cab.

You cannot collect more than the value of your car. The rules of New York State on the subject of automobile damage have received general approval. In a leading New York court decision the Court said: the repairs must never exceed the value of the vehicle itself as it was before the injury. Where the automobile is completely damaged the measure of damages is its reasonable market value immediately before destruction.

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