If you have been hurt in a car wreck, your first thought is for your medical treatment. However, if your car is too damaged to drive, how do you get to treatment? Arranging for transportation to see your doctors, and to get to and from work (if you are able to work), creates more hassle while trying to deal with a car wreck. Luckily, MOST of this part of a car wreck is fairly straightforward, although some insurance carriers will still try to con you into giving up some of your rights. Most of your rights in this area can be found the North Carolina Administrative Code. Click this link for the Code’s homepage, http://reports.oah.state.nc.us/ncac.asp and then follow the links for Title 11 (Insurance) and under that follow the link to Chapter 4 (Consumer Services Division).
Most people (and many attorneys) think that you are always entitled to a rental vehicle following a wreck. But that’s not exactly true. The type of coverage is called “loss of use.” It’s exactly for what you’d think it would be for: the loss of use of your vehicle. You’re paid for loss of use of your vehicle, for a reasonable period of time, while repairs are made. Furthermore, you’re entitled to a similar vehicle. After a car wreck, or even after a trucking collision, if you vehicle has to be repaired, the “loss of use” coverage should apply. So long as the vehicle is with a repair shop, and they’re trying to fix it, there is no technical limit on how long you can keep a rental vehicle under this coverage. Typically rentals are handled by the adjuster contacting a rental car company to have them provide you with a car. This is done for two reasons. First, it’s cheaper for the insurance company, since they usually do business with one of the larger rental companies, and get a reduced rate. Second, this makes it seem to the injured party (you) like the insurance carrier is trying to be reasonable and live up to their obligations, in order to try and set you up for a lower number on your personal injury claim.
If the insurance company says they get to pick the kind of car you get, they don’t. If they say you can’t have a vehicle that’s similar to yours, that’s not true. If they tell you that you have to purchase additional insurance to cover the vehicle while you’re in it, that’s not true either, SO LONG AS you have your own personal automobile insurance policy. Your own policy will cover the rental as a “temporary replacement vehicle.” If you don’t have your own policy, then you will need to find a way to cover the vehicle, and a temporary policy with the rental company may be the easiest way to do that (but it will be expensive, and that expense will fall on you.) You DO have to get a vehicle that is similar to the one you had, so if you were driving a mid-sized car, they don’t have to give you a pickup or a sports car. Also, once the repairs to your vehicle are done, you will typically be expected to return the rental within a day or so after the shop informs you and the carrier that your car is ready.
If your car is totaled, you can’t keep the rental forever. Typically, two to three weeks is the most you can expect if you are able to come to terms on the value for your totaled vehicle. If you have to file a lawsuit, you may be entitled to loss of use until such time as a jury rules in your favor or you settle the case. HOWEVER, keeping a rental for months is a terrible idea: if a jury rules against you, then the rental expenses will fall back on you, and you could end up paying two or three times what you would have paid to just buy another vehicle.
If you use your vehicle for your job, such as a pickup truck for a contracting or landscaping business, you may be entitled to additional amounts due to losses to your business, but those may be included as part of your personal injury claim. Likewise, if you have a specialized vehicle, (for instance if you own your own dump truck and it has to be repaired) you may have significant loss of use and lost income claims. Those issues can be complicated, and should be discussed with a lawyer.
The award-winning lawyers at the Miller Law Group have handed claims like these for decades, and they are here to help. If you have been injured in a car wreck, a trucking collision, a motorcycle wreck, or a bicycle wreck, contact us for a free consultation. If we don’t think we can help, we’ll tell you so. If we CAN help, we’ll handle your case on a contingency fee, so if there is no recovery, you don’t owe us any fee. Contact the Miller Law Group today to protect your rights. We’ve got your back.