Loss of Use After an Automobile Accident
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What is Loss of Use After a Car Accident?
Loss of use is the damage a person suffers from the inconvenience of not having their car after it has been in an accident.
For example, Driver A is at fault and hits Driver B's car. Driver B's car has to go to an auto shop for 30 days to be fixed. During those 30 days, Driver B is without the car, and has suffered a loss of use of that car. Driver B's inconvenience can sometimes be a collectible damage.
When Can I Collect for Loss of Use?
Each state recognizes the loss of use damage in a slightly different way. Generally speaking, you can collect for the loss of use if you:
- Were in an automobile accident
- Were not at fault
- The vehicle becomes unusable by you for some period
- Suffer damages as a result
It should be noted that insurance policies may have certain clauses that pertain to loss of value damages, which can limit when and the amount that can be recovered.
How Much Can I Recover?
Generally speaking, the amount you can recover for loss of value is the reasonable value of a substitute vehicle for the time that you are without your normal car. In some situations, it may be possible to recover the reasonable value of a substitute vehicle even if one is not rented.
Returning to the example from above, if Driver B has to rent a car for $500 during the 30 days his/her car is in the shop, Driver A or their insurance company is liable for the $500.
Are There Any Defenses?
Each state recognizes the loss of use damage slightly different, and as such, there are different defenses available in different states. The most common are:
- The vehicle was not used for a business purpose
- The value of the vehicle was not lost in the accident
- The vehicle was not repaired at all
- The repairs to the vehicle were not completed in a reasonable time
- The vehicle was totally destroyed
- No substitute vehicle was rented
- The value of the vehicle before the damage was less than the total damage requested
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you are trying to collect for the loss of use of a vehicle, it is a good idea to contact an attorney who specializes in insurance law because an insurance company may not be forthcoming with what they owe you. Only an attorney will be able to guide you through the process, explain the relevant issues, and help defend your rights.
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Last Modified: 09-20-2013 10:57 AM PDT
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