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Property Damage and Auto Accidents

Along with the aches and bruises that one endures in an automobile accident, the loss of a vehicle can sometimes cause the largest headache.

There are two scenarios in a property damage claim. It is important to understand that an insurance company will treat your property damage claim and your personal injury claims as two separate claims. However, one should not share information regarding their bodily injury claim with the property damage adjuster to avoid providing the insurance company with information to which they are not entitled.

First, if damages to your vehicle exceed a statutory percentage of the total value of your automobile, then your car may be non-repairable or totaled.

Secondly, if the damages to your vehicle do not exceed the statutory percentage then the insurance company must repair your vehicle. In both scenarios you have a right to a comparable rental vehicle.

There are three ways to obtain a rental car. First, even if the accident was not your fault, you can contact your insurance company to see if you have rental car insurance. Your insurance company will then provide you with a rental car, and under the subrogation clause of your insurance contract, seek reimbursement from the “at fault party” or the “at fault parties” insurance company. This is usually the quickest method of obtaining a rental car.

The second method is to wait until the opposing insurance company opens a claim and accepts liability (that their insured caused the accident). This process may take place within two to five days, but in some instances may take as long as 30 days.

The third method to obtain a rental car consists the highest risk. You may purchase a rental car with a credit card and seek reimbursement once liability is accepted. The risks are the “at fault party” does not have valid insurance, denies liability, etc. then you are responsible for paying the rental vehicle.

In both scenarios of the totaled vehicle and a repairable vehicle you only have a right to a rental vehicle for a limited time. With a non-repairable or totaled vehicle, once the “at fault” insurance company has a check available for the fair market value of your totaled automobile you must return the rental car and pick up your check. With a repairable vehicle, once your automobile is fixed, you have a duty to pick up your repaired vehicle and return the rental. In either scenario, should you fail to return the rental car in reasonable time, you will be held responsible for rental fees.

If an insurance company is giving you the run around, it is important to assert your rights to a rental car to avoid missing work, taking the children to school, etc. When you are involved in an accident and it is not your fault, do not allow the insurance company to become more of an inconvenience by depriving you of your rights to a rental car. Contact Benson & Bingham today.

Punitive Damages in Nevada: Malice, Oppression, Fraud.

Per NRS 42.005 Limits punitive damages to $300,000 in cases where compensatory damages are less than $100,000 and to three times compensatory damages in cases of $100,000 or more. Exempt from this are products liability cases, insurance bad faith cases, discrimination, toxic torts, and defamation cases are excluded.) This is part of a broad attempt by the Tort Reform wave attempting to bar rights of injured victims. In a products liability action, the logic behind the punitive damages are to punish the victim and to encourage safer products. The personal injury attorneys at Benson and Bingham attempt to get exemplary damages whenever possible to get justice for their clients.

Car Accident Rental Car Repairs Allow a Victim to Rent a Comparable Vehicle

Nevada subscribes to what Benson & Bingham would refer to as a fairness doctrine with respect to rental cars; or, alternatively “equal rule” for leased vehicles. If you rent a car for a car accident, the car rented is allowed to be of equal or comparable value. If you wreck a Mercedes you are allowed to rent a Mercedes. The goal is to be fair and equal. It would be unfair to rent a small sedan when you are used to driving a truck. And, most Courts actually will award the value of the rental itself:

“When lost use is the damage, Indiana law provides that the ordinary measure of that damage is the fair rental value of the item. Persinger, supra. That is to say, fair rental value determines the monetary amount for the sustained loss. It would apply to reduce liability had Decker [the accident victim] rented an excessively expensive replacement. And it applies, as here, where Decker rented no replacement at all.” Hamacher v. Decker Livestock, Inc., 536 N.E.2d 304 1989.

So, Courts basically are stating that fairness requires an equal rental, and if you decide not to rent a car at all, you are still entitled to the value of the rental. If you have been involved in an accident and need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you navigate the case and your property damage, call our Nevada personal injury firm today: 702-382-9797

How to Access the Value of Your Auto:

A Selection of Insurance Companies' Contact Information in Nevada:

Did you Know: Both Joe Benson and Ben Bingham are members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and were selected as Top 40 Trial Lawyers under 40?