Hit by an unregistered 18 wheeler...

by Tracy
(Berryville, Arkansas)

My husband and I were out having a nice morning together, when an 18 wheeler came into our lane on a bridge and pinned us in between the guard rail of the bridge and himself.

We luckily did not end up in the river, and the car was still running so we were able to follow the 18 wheeler, who did not stop. We followed him for over 10 miles, honking the horn the entire way trying to get the trucker to stop.

There was finally a passing lane, so my husband passed the trucker as I was waving frantically from the passenger side, I noticed that the truckers' window was rolled down (which makes it sort of difficult to believe that he did not hear us honking at him for 10 miles). We pulled in front of him and stopped, and explained to him that he hit us and asked him why he did not stop.

He said he didn't know that he had hit us, "didn't feel or hear anything". We called the police, and the state trooper, after gathering all the information from both us and the trucker, discovered that the trucker was driving a vehicle that was unregistered, and also informed us that the trucking company had a history of driving unregistered vehicles.

My Honda Odyssey was totaled as a result of this accident. The trucker's insurance company finally called us 3 days after the accident and rented us a rental car, and the adjustor came out today and totaled my car. He said the actual cash value is $7,700, but there are many other Odysseys in our area that are going for $12,000 that are just like our vehicle.

We now are going to have to purchase a new vehicle. We believe that the insurance company should pay for what my vehicle is worth plus pay the $2k that we owe on our car as a part of his negligence as a driver, one that is supposed to be held to a higher standard of safety in regards to the deadly machinery that this company neglected to register.

Do you have any advice for us? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Hit by an unregistered 18 wheeler...":

Tracy (Berryville, Arkansas):

The cold hard facts about insurance and property damage have caused many people over the years to become completely frustrated with insurance companies and their policies regarding “totaling” a victim’s vehicle. Regrettably, in the state of Arkansas as in most other states there is no law requiring an insurance company to pay more for a totaled vehicle than the fair market value.

The word “fair” is an ironic one as many times the determination of fair market value of a totaled vehicle is not fair, at least according to the owners of the totaled vehicle.

As you may know when there is a collision and a “victim’s” vehicle has been damaged the at-fault driver’s insurance company, presuming they have accepted liability on behalf of their insured, will pay to have the vehicle repaired.

But there are exceptions...

When there is a collision the at-fault driver’s insurance company representative, commonly referred to as a ”Claims Adjuster,” comes either to the victim’s home, business, body shop, or any other place the damaged vehicle has been deposited.

From the facts you present we are unable to determine the year of your Honda Odyssey. For the sake of this discussion we will presume it was a 2007.

The first thing the Adjuster does is look up what she considers to be the fair market value of the damaged vehicle. The vehicle was a 2007 Honda Odyssey, and the fair market value of the car that day was reported as $12,000.

Let’s say the repairs to the vehicle will cost $7,000 dollars. Well in almost all cases the Adjuster will authorize the repairs. But if the repair costs amount to $12,001 dollars the Adjuster can just write a check for that amount, more or less, depending if you want to give up the vehicle, or keep it.

Regrettably in your case the Adjuster determined that the costs of repairs exceeded the fair market value. As a result she exercised her authority to “pay you off." The only recourse you might have is to sue the truck driver, and regardless of what his insurance company thinks, take the case to court.

You'll be able to present proof to the court that your Honda was worth more than fair market value. To convince the court you should bring proof of comparable vehicles selling for greater amounts than what was offered to you by the Adjuster. You will also be able to testify about the manner in which you maintained the car. If you have any photos of the vehicle that will help too.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION