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Fair Market Value vs. Unpaid Balance on Truck Note

Los Angeles, CA |

Driver rented a U-haul-type semi truck from Renter. Driver declined insurance from Renter. Driver wrecked and totaled the truck. The rental agreement between the parties provided that if Driver declined insurance, it would be responsible for "total cost of loss or damage to vehicle." Driver's own insurance paid Renter the fair market value of the totaled truck ($50K). At the time of the accident, Renter still owed $69K on the truck's note. Can Renter recover the remaining $19K still owed on the truck from Driver? Or, was Driver's liability limited to only the fair market value of the truck - plus incidental and consequential damages?

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Attorney answers 4


The value is the value, not what the owner paid or owes on the vehicle. Check to see if driver's insurance company obtained a full signed release for any and all property damages.

This is not intended to be legal advise or as legal representation. I am a California personal injury attorney . Be aware that every state has its own statute of limitations; and statutes & case laws that govern the handling of these matters.


The "total cost of loss" is going to be the fair market value, since by definition the FMV will allow you to purchase a comparable replacement vehicle. Either way, you still owe the 19k, so that is not a "loss."

This answer is a general interpretation of the law and is not fact specific to your case. Likewise it does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should seek an attorney for a review of your specific facts and documents.


Mr. Crosner's advice to "Check to see if driver's insurance company obtained a full signed release for any and all property damages." is very good advice. If so, nothing further is owed.

Mr. Crosner is licensed to practice law in California and has been practicing law in California since 1978. The response herein is general legal and business analysis.. It is not intended nor construed to be "legal advice" but rather it is analysis, and different lawyers may analyze this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.



"If so, nothing further is owed." So, if not, is something further owed?



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