Settlement for Minor Car Damage?

by Michelle
(Greensboro, NC)

I was at a stop when a car rear ended me at 35 mph. My car had little damage (approx $1,400) but the other car was totaled. I went to the doctor and the x-rays came back negative. I am a little sore, but all in all I think I should be okay.

How much do you think is a fair settlement?

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Settlement for Minor Car Damage?":

Michelle (Greensboro, NC):

Fortunately you apparently suffered little or no soft tissue injuries. Settlement offers, if made at all, are based on injuries and the medical costs associated with their treatment.

If your medical bills, out of pocket expenses (such as bandages, medicines and the like), and lost wages are under $500 dollars you might ask for $1,500 dollars as settlement in your case. That would be reasonable.

You will probably be dealing with the driver’s two separate insurance company Claims Adjusters. One Adjuster normally handles the property damage, and the other personal injuries.

Here’s a tip to help you with the repairs to your car. You mentioned the property damage was about $1,400 dollars. That may be right, but there’s more to it than just having the Claims Adjuster authorize payments for the repairs.

Your car’s bumper was probably damaged, possibly beyond repair. There may also be damage to the trunk, and possibly the rear quarter panels.

Make sure you tell the Claims Adjuster you want only OEM parts installed on your car. OEM, or Original Equipment Manufactured Parts, are parts manufactured by, or on behalf of the company which manufactured your car.

You have a right to have all parts, from nuts and bolts to steel and fiberglass, replaced with the same parts which were on your car before the collision. There are lesser quality replacement parts bought and sold all the time. Many times they end up on unsuspecting victims’ cars.

The way it happens is this:

You tell the Claims Adjuster you want only OEM parts installed on your car. She agrees, but the body shop purchases the cheaper parts and installs them on your car. The body shop pockets the difference in costs. These parts may look like new, but because of their inferior quality may begin to warp or fade sooner than they should.

This is not a blanket condemnation of body shops. Ther are many more reputable ones than not.

Make sure the Adjuster looks at your car before you pick it up. Unless you are an expert you won’t be able to tell if the parts on your car are inferior or OEM. The Adjuster can withhold payment until she verifies the OEM replacements. Don’t be a victim twice.

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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