Visitor Question

One tire ruined in crash, all need replaced. Who pays for additional tires?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Portland, Oregon)

My son was T-Boned coming home from school. The other driver was 100% at fault, confirmed by the other driver saying so, my insurance company and the at-fault driver’s insurance company confirming.

My car has been in the shop for 6 weeks. I was just told that because my vehicle is a 4-wheel drive, for my car to run properly I have to buy 3 more new tires to match the new tire that replaced the tire damaged in the accident.

My auto repair person confirmed that because of the miles and tread depth of the tires that I would need all tires to match for the car to run properly. My tires are only 9 months old and not much mileage.

I wouldn’t need new tires if the accident had never occurred. I was told I had to pay $800 for three more new tires.

I called MY insurance company and they said they would only pay for one tire. My problem is that I didn’t need new tires before the accident. After my car was T-boned, everything changed. That’s when I was told I had to get new tires for the car to run correctly.

Shouldn’t insurance pay for a percentage of the 3 other tires? I’m not saying pay in full, but a percentage because it was not a cost I was facing before the accident.

My car will not work properly like it was before the accident without the new tires. This is my insurance company I’m talking to. Shouldn’t they also be working for me and trying to figure it out as opposed to just saying no?

I appreciate any information you can provide. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for contacting us. Unfortunately, your insurance company is not legally required to compensate you for four new tires. However, there are a few routes you can pursue to receive money for all of them.

Betterment Clauses

When your car is damaged, you have a right to have it brought back to the condition it was in before the accident. But, insurance companies are not obligated to return your car in a better condition than it was in prior to the collision.

This concept is most likely expressly stated in your insurance policy. Look for a “Betterment Clause” in the physical damage section of your insurance papers.

The clause may seem unfair, but it helps preserve the concept that an insured should not profit from a loss or accident.

Here, although your tires are only nine months old, four brand new tires would put your car in a better condition than it was in before the accident.

Rely on Customer Service

One path that you can take in trying to receive compensation is to try and make this a customer service issue.

Like any company that you do business with, insurers want to make their clients and customers happy. After all, you pay them for financial protection, they receive a benefit from this money, and they want to keep earning your business in the future.

While one person at your insurance company told you, “no four new tires, ” it’s worth the time to run this issue up the ladder. Ask to talk to a manager or a manager in the company’s Customer Service Department.

When you talk to a manager, it’s important to act professionally. Don’t argue or yell. You can acknowledge that while the company is not legally obligated to pay for all new tires, your mechanic advised that it was necessary to replace all of them to ensure the car runs safely.

Small Claims Court

If your insurance company still refuses to compensate you for four brand new tires, consider submitting a demand to the at-fault driver’s insurance company for your property damage, including the cost of the replacement tires.

However, as with your insurer, the company is under no legal obligation to replace all of your vehicle’s tires.

Your next option is litigation. Civil lawsuits are time-consuming, though, and often expensive. Because of this, you might look into using Oregon’s small claims court process.

Small claims court is an alternative to filing an action in state court. It is meant to provide for a quicker and cheaper way to resolve a dispute.

In your state, you can bring a case in small claims court if it involves $10,000 or less in damages. Here, you are well under this amount as three tires would cost you $800.

Oregon’s court provides an instruction sheet for filing a small claims lawsuit. You aren’t required to hire a lawyer and can choose to represent yourself.

A judge might find in your favor and believe that the at-fault party should pay for the three new tires out of a sense of fairness.

Learn more here: Car Accident Property Damage Claims

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

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