Vehicle struck by motorcyclist...
I was traveling on the interstate, in moderate traffic on a clear evening, maintaining a speed of 65 MPH. My vehicle was struck by a motorcyclists traveling close to 100 MPH. The motorcyclist was ejected and died at the scene.
I was not physically injured; however, I have flash backs and feel uncomfortable around motorcyclists. I have been seeing a psychologist and have been making progress.
Damages to the vehicle exceeded $10,000. Repairs lasted 65 days, during which time I had a rental car paid for by my insurance company for 30 days, and I paid out of pocket for 35 days. I have submitted out of pocket expenses to the deceased's insurance company.
What expectation should I have for receiving compensation for mental anguish, diminutive value for my vehicle, and aggravation? Am I entitled to compensation for anything else in this situation? Thank you for any information you can provide.
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ANSWER for "Vehicle struck by motorcyclist...":
Michael (Durham, NC):
While your anxiety, discomfort, and flashbacks are no doubt real, it is unlikely the deceased's insurance company will agree to compensate you for those psychological difficulties.
For the insurance company to consider compensating you for the those amounts will require psychiatric or psychological proof linking the difficulties to the crash. This means you will have to seek out a psychiatrist or psychologist to reduce to writing a narrative linking the crash to your psychological troubles.
In the event you can find a psychiatrist or psychologist to establish the links, your next step will be to place a monetary value on those symptoms. This will be very hard to accomplish. You can be sure the insurance company will place a very low value, if any, on the psychological symptoms, even when confirmed by a licensed mental health practitioner.
The deceased's insurance company will likely pay for the entire amount of the rental and repair costs. However, they will only do so if they believe the costs of repair and duration of the rental were reasonable.
To compensate you for the decreased value of your car after its repairs will require you to prove the decrease in value is real. The burden of proof is on you to do so, not on the deceased’s insurance company.
Proving diminished value begins with an appraisal of the value of your car, before and after the crash. You can get a pre-accident private party value from online resources such as Edmunds.com or KBB.com (Kelley Blue Book).
There are also companies like Collision Claim Associates who review repair documents, offer sample letters drivers can submit to insurance companies, and advise owners what to say to insurance companies to support their claim for diminished value.
You can be confident the amount offered by the insurance company for diminished value will be much less than you believe is fair. As a result, you will have to negotiate using the diminished value evidence.
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,
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