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Old 05-05-2010, 03:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Need to know my rights after an auto accident

I was recently involved in an auto collision in Palmdale, CA. Basically, I was travelling straight at about 30 to 35 mph on a main street, and the other party rolled through a stop sign from a residential street and came infront of me onto the road to make a left turn. I tried to swerve when I saw them coming onto the intersection, and as a result the impact was between my car's front end and the side of their car near the back wheel. They were 100% at fault for running a stop sign (which the other car's driver swears she didn't do) and pulling in front of me at an intersection. Police arrived at the scene and wrote up a report confirming that the other party was indeed wholly at fault, although the cops took her word for it when she said that she didn't run the stop sign, but merely neglected to check for oncoming traffic as she pulled onto the intersection. Frankly, I didn't care whether or not they gave her a ticket at the scene... as my concern was about the well-being of all of the people involved in the crash (me, my 2 passengers, her, and her 1 passanger), police writing up a report that indicated who was at fault, and of course the proper exchange of information between our 2 parties.

Afterwards, my insurance co. assessed the damage to my car and their repair estimates came to around $5,200. The current market value of the car is also about the same at $5,800. So therefore, my insurance co. is declaring it to be a total loss, and says they'll pay me $5,300 ($5,800 market value, less $500 deductible) if I turn the car over to them. However, if I want to keep the car, they'll only pay about $3,800 and leave it to me to get the repairs done on my own. This is because they're deducting $1,500 for the "sheet metal value" (aka salvage value) of the car that they'd otherwise get from scrapping it, if I were to turn it over to them. The car is actually in good mechanical/operational condition, and I don't want to hand it over to the insurance co. because I need a vehicle to get around in. The damages from the collision are cosmetic, with one exception: both the driver and passenger-side airbags that deployed in the collision will need to be replaced (these account for nearly half the repair estimate).

My question is, don't I have the legal right to ask my insurance co. to fully repair the car using genuine OEM parts (which in this case are the airbags, frontside light covers, and the windshield that was destroyed because of the passenger-side airbag deployment) at no cost to me (other than the deductible) since I do have full comp. & collision coverage? I mean, what's the point of having full coverage auto insurance if the insurance co. won't even give you enough to make all of the necessary repairs (from their own estimate nonetheless)?!

I'm editing this post, because there is some "additional drama" that have developed from this scenario. It turns out that the other driver who was responsible for this collision WAS UNINSURED! She is a Latina in her mid-20s who says she is unemployed and has 2 young kids. She called me a few days after the wreck to say that the policy she showed me at the scene of the accident (not even in her name BTW, but supposedly it's her boy-friend's policy) had lapsed due to non-payment. She did say that she was going to pay my insurance co. out of her own pocket through a structured payment that she'll set up with them. I sincerely doubt this, because well... she is unemployed with kids, and frankly doesn't seem like the type of individual that is in a positon that can make those payments. Although I will admit that she has a family/friend "support structure" around her (her mother showed up at the scene of the accident to give her comfort, and she also got several calls on her cellphone asking if she was alright). Plus, she had a male passenger with her which may or may not have been her boyfriend. Anyway, when she told me her policy lapsed, I asked her if she could pay the $500 deductible to me directly (because I now knew that my insurance co. will never compensate me for that as she'll likely not be able to pay them). She told me that she'd have to get a loan from her parents/family and get back to me. I call her back 2 days later, and she says flat out that she'll not pay anything to me (no doubt after receiving some coaching from her family/friends), and if I call her again, she'll report me for harrassment. I laughed when she said this, and reminded her that I only called her twice after the incident, and that she actually called me about 3 or 4 times. Anyway, I proceeded to tell her that if she doesn't reimburse me for the $500 deductible, I'll report her to the Palmdale police for A) driving without insurance, and B) potentially presenting false insurance info. at the scene of an accident to avoid legal consequences. She told me to go right ahead and promptly hung up. And that is exactly what I did. I contacted the Palmdale Sherriff's Station, referenced the report # under which the collision report was written up, and told them that the at fault party (giving them her name) was infact driving uninsured, and that the insurance info. she presented at the scene was potentially false, as I don't recall seeing the vehicle that she was driving listed on that paper. So if the Palmdale deputies do their job, she'll now be facing legal consequences in addition to having to repay my insurance co.

What I'd like to know now (in addition to my original question in dealing with my insurance co.) is whether or not I should take the other driver to small claims court to get that $500 deductible back? Is a small claims judge likely to rule in my favor, or will s/he simply say that I'm not entitled to get it back? I ask because some people have told me that judges often don't rule in favor of accident victims that sue to get their deductible back, even if they are not at fault. Personally, I wouldn't even think of suing if the other driver had insurance (because then my insurance co. would be able to get that deductible back from her insurance co.). But because she doesn't have insurance, is it worth my time as well as the court cost plus service fee to summon her to small claims court? My family has also been inconvenienced by this collision as we're having to make do with one car while the other one remains wrecked as I wait to settle with my insurance co. Since my insurance policy doesn't cover rental, I know that if I were to rent a car, my only option of reimbursement would be to try and get it from that other driver. Given that she owes my insurance co. over $5,000, and possibly now owes the city of Palmdale for a stiff legal fine (also in the thousands) for driving uninsured and/or presenting false insurance info. at the scene of an accident, I seriously doubt that this deadbeat young Latina mom of 2 is going to compensate me personally for anything EVER, nor will I be able to sieze any assets from her to satisfy a legal judgement that I get against her. So really, is it worth going after her in small claims court at all?

Last edited by SoCal_Resident; 05-07-2010 at 12:12 AM.
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Old 06-15-2015, 05:20 AM   #2 (permalink)
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If you are injured, make sure to go the emergency room or your doctor and get documentation of your injuries. If your car was towed from the scene, make sure you get any valuables or personal information out of the car. Neither a lawyer nor doctor should be calling you directly after you accident if you did not contact them first, and it is actually illegal for either to do so.
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Old 12-29-2015, 10:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi

As per my opinion, The most important thing, that you should do after a car accident is to consult your attorney. Because, attorney is the person, who can protect your rights and can advise you in detail on related issues.

Thanks!!
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