Hollister, CA asked in Car Accidents for California

Q: We are having problems with the other parties insurance company paying for loss of car among other things.

My daughter was in a car accident and her car was totaled. The other insurance company keeps lowering the amount that they will pay and the want us to sign a waiver saying we wont go after the other party or them for more money. We don't feel that that is fair and the are offering us way less money then her car was worth! We don't know what to do and can't seem to find the right kind of lawyer to help us.

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3 Lawyer Answers
William John Light
William John Light
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You can challenge their valuation by getting into the details of the comparable vehicles they are using to set the value. Did they use a vehicle : with significantly more miles than yours; with lesser options than yours; with less desirable paint color than yours; that is being offered from a private seller? Any of these kinds of "comparables" might drive down the average valuation that they assign.

Also, you can attempt to prove your own valuation with kbb.com, edmunds.com, autotrader.com, craigslist.com, etc. by locating similar vehicles being offered for sale. You can even hire an auto appraiser to come up with a value that will have some weight with the insurer.

If you cannot come to agreement on the value of the car, you can always sue the other driver in Small Claims court. You will have the exact same issues there and you will have the burden of proving the value of your car. Your own personal assessment is worthless. Other similar cars being offered for sale is the evidence you need, or an auto appraiser's report.

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Wyomissing, PA

A: If she was hurt contact a member of CAOC--they give free consults. Mr. Light is correct, except rather than Edmunds you would be best getting a quote from a Dealer. Do understand when you say "not what it was worth," they only have to pay what the sales price would be for a model of like condition, mileage, options etc--not what she owed, not what she paid for it. What the car would have fetched--not asking price but selling price--on the lot the minute before the crash.

But lowering the offer--very tacky.

Steven M. Sweat
Steven M. Sweat
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You are entitled to "fair market value" on the vehicle. Most insurance carriers calculate this value based upon a "market comparison" (i.e. what have vehicles similar to your daughters in specs and mileage sold for in the past 6-12 months). If you have collision coverage through your own insurance carrier, this is another option and they may treat you more fairly because you are their insured. While you can choose to file suit against the at fault driver and seek a judge's ruling on what they believe "far market value" should be, this would involve some time and effort on your part in obtaining proper evidence to present at a hearing. Signing a release of claims as a condition for settlement with their insurance carrier is standard.

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