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Loss of Use of Vehicle after Auto Accident

Los Angeles, CA |

If somebody hits your vehicle with their vehicle, and their insurance company accepts liability, and you use a friend's car while your car is being repaired (partly because it seems uncertain if insurance company is willing to cover rental car fees), does the insurance company still have to pay for loss of use? That is, can the insurance company avoid paying you loss of use/rental car fees, simply because you use a friend's car instead of renting a car, while the repairs are made?

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Attorney answers 5

Best Answer
Posted

Assuming the other person was at fault, his/her insurance company still owes you "loss of use" damages for every day you do not have a vehicle due to the damage. Insurance companies typically pay $25-30 per day for loss of use. Many people assume that they are not entitled to compensation if they do not rent a car and insurance companies will not offer it unless you ask them and insist on payment of this type of damage.

Good luck.

Asker

Posted

Thanks do you happen to know the specific law/code section that states this?

Posted

No. The insurer will reimburse you for reasonable out of pocket expenses associated with your loss of use of your vehicle that can be documented. And, no, having your friend generate an "invoice" won't cure the problem. Tell the insurer you intend to rent a car until your vehicle is repaired and get pre-approval in writing for the expense so you don't have to fight over it later.

This response is general legal and business analysis and not legal advice; thus, other attorneys may analyze this issue differently, particularly if there are undisclosed facts. I am licensed to practice in CA, but I am not your attorney and this response does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. Please review Item 9 of avvo.com’s terms and conditions, which is incorporated by reference as it if was reprinted here in full.

Asker

Posted

But since it's referred to as "loss of use" doesn't that imply that the payment from insurance company is for not being able to use your vehicle, and not necessarily for the rental of a replacement value? Isn''t that why insurance won't cover rentals that are much more expensive that the injured's vehicle (i.e. rental has to be equivalent has to the vehicle that was damaged and anything more expensive must has to be paid for by the injured party).

Posted

There is no clear answer, but if you agreed to pay your friend for the use of the car, the insurance company will usually handle that payment. Good Luck

Posted

California Law specifically allows a party to recover damages for loss of use of personal property and there is a California Jury Instruction which addresses this. Moreover, the California Supreme Court in Reynolds v. Bank of America National Trust & Savings Assn. (1959) 53 Cal.2d 49, 50-51 held that when the owner of a vehicle has suffered injury by being deprived by the use of the vehicle he is entitled to recover for loss of use in order to compensate for all detriment proximately caused by the wrongful destruction. In Collin v. American Empire Insurance Co. (1984) 21 Cal.App.4th 787, 818 the court went on to hold that the measure of damages for the loss of use may be determined with reference to the rental value of similar property which the plaintiff can hire for use during the period when he was deprived of the use of his own property.

You are still entitled to be compensated for the loss of use of your vehicle for a reasonable period of time, which is often the time it takes to get the vehicle repaired.

Asker

Posted

This is very helpful. Thank you for citing case law. My main question though (and what I am arguing with the insurance company) is what is "reasonable period of time". They did not make their initial offer for 1.5 months AND in did not include "loss of use". I decided to fix at that time and pay out of pocket, and finally got my car back after 2 months. They will not reimburse me for loss of use, as they said repairs only took 1 week, so they are only paying for 7 days. Do know of any case law that would dispute their claim?

Posted

I agree with the responses given. Just have your "friend" provide proof of payment which can generally be as simple as a receipt on a piece of plain paper showing that 1. you were charged for the vehicle and 2. that you paid.

However, even if you did not pay, it is still reasonable for any insurance company to pay (yours too if you have the coverage--but only up to the total considered "reasonable".) For example, if you drive a Rolls, no one would expect you to rent a '67 VW. And the reverse is also true.

This is NOT legal advice rather, it is opinion only based upon the facts as stated. There is no way to know the outcome of any judicial matter at this stage.

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