Visitor Question

Repair shop denying there’s any damage to my car, so insurance is denying claim?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Los Angeles, California)

This accident happened in California ( Los Angeles, LAX region). It was night time. I was parked on the street (legally) and 4-5ft away from the curb where the driveway entrance to a small parking lot is. I was on my 10min break from work, & decided to walk over to my car & grab a cigarette.

I opened my driver door and bent over, leaning onto my driver seat to grab my lighter from the center arm rest. Out of nowhere I hear a loud bang, or crunch and I felt a strong push knocking me to land against the wheel & hurt my rib cage/torso. I still had one foot on the floor when I was leaning into my car, the door at time of impact closed on my leg bruising my shin.

I was caught off guard and scared. I quickly got up and saw the car that was already trying to take off. I gathered my self up and yelled at it. He stopped his car and walked over to me and I asked him what he was doing that he didn’t see my car parked.

All he was saying was that it didn’t look bad or like anything major happened. He added that he just didn’t realized there was a car parked there. I responded saying how can you not see a car parked when it’s been there all day, and to top it off has the door open with lights on inside?

He backed up tearing through my plastic grill on my bumper and hard enough to bubble the area where my headlight is at, and popped the reinforced tabs that hold my bumper to the fender (I think that’s what it’s called) in addition my headlight was pushed out of place.

Most of the minor damage happened to the middle bumper and directly in front the driver seat position. He didn’t want to give me his insurance info and offered to pay me money, leaving insurance out of it. I decided to get his info instead.

The rest of my shift was unbearable. My body began to feel as if somebody twisted me up near my back and ribs. I felt extremely nauseous, and actually did throw up twice. I was allowed to sit the remaining half hour of work. Once clocked out I turned on my car, let it warm up, and it started to shake very violently. I carpool with a coworker and they noticed the shake too.

On the freeway we noticed it struggling to accelerate and heard loud hissing or air sounds from under the hood. I decided to take the streets to my nearest relative’s home. Pulling up the drive way I heard a scraping or hissing sound again. The car shook more in a way like it was about to power off. Headlight flickered. I just turned it off.

I locked my car & noticed my car did not honk like usual. So I got back in it and pushed the steering wheel to hear a horn, & after a split second of sound the horn was not sounding.

I began the insurance claim & chose to drive my car to the closest shop. I chose one nearby where I live, as I drove towards home, taking the freeway my car shook violently again, unable to make it up any type of inclined road. It got to a point where it smelled like some kind of gas or fume was entering thru vents. The temperature increased 8 or 9 degrees different than outside.

I was able to make it safely off the freeway and I turned onto a slow street. Unable to move anymore, lights flickered, and hissing again I tried to accelerate & nothing would move. So I turned off my car, let it cool. Something smelled bad & harmful the car smelled burnt under the hood and smoke exit the muffler.

The sun finally rose & I called AAA to request a tow home. Once there I called the adjuster to update that my car is actually was not drivable after all. So they arranged for my car to be towed instead to the shop for the estimate. He set me up with a rental for the mean time.

The next day the person from the body shop tells me that he doesn’t see damage on my car, at least nothing major or even related. I tell him and explain what happened, then called the adjuster. Because my car was driving fine prior to being hit. The adjuster advised me to leave the car there till they send someone to inspect it.

A week passed by, the shop called me to inform that they will not be doing anything on my car. The claim denied. Why & what can I do? 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,

Before going any further, seek medical attention. This is not only important for your safety and well being, but will also be important in the event you intend to pursue a personal injury claim against the driver.  Many car accident injuries result in latent symptoms. This means symptoms such as swelling and pain may not appear for hours, and sometimes days after an accident.

Take photos of the property damage. It would be great if you also had some photos of the car before the collision. Speak with the adjuster and explain what happened and how your car was running perfectly well before the collision.

You must be able to accurately describe the mechanical problem specifically caused by the collision. To that end, before speaking with the claims adjuster speak with the shop and ask them what the mechanical problem is, and if that damage was recent, and could be connected with the collision. If you have underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, you can file a claim with your own insurance company.

Finally, in the event the insurance company will still not cooperate, consider filing a small claims lawsuit in one of California’s Small Claims Courts. These Courts have jurisdiction to hear cases in controversy up to $7,500.

If you choose to file a small claims courts lawsuit you must sue the driver, and not the driver’s insurance company. In almost all car insurance policies the driver’s insurance company is contractually obligated to defend their insured in court.

If you do sue the driver, you will have some leverage. In many cases insurance companies would rather pay a disputed claim than have to retain an attorney to defend the lawsuit. Read more information on filing a lawsuit in a California Small Claims Courts here.

You also have every right to get a second opinion from another repair shop. If you feel the shop currently evaluating your vehicle is not doing a good job, simply have your car evaluated by another shop.

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) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: October 19, 2017

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