What settlement am I obligated to take when figuring personal damages for a final settlement, the $4000 figure or the actual cost to repair $6,600?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Mar 18, 2012

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Insurance Question from Iowa City, IA

Asked on 03/18/2012

What settlement am I obligated to take when figuring personal damages for a final settlement, the $4000 figure or the actual cost to repair $6,600? My car was totaled. Drunk Driver rear-ended us going 40+mph. 6 passengers in my car. I was going less than 2 MPH. 2000 Cadillac Deville. Estimate over $6,600.00 to repair the Cadillac. Estimated car worth by the book is less than $4,000.00. This car is in excellent condition but has high miles at 191,000. They want to give me a check for $4,000.00 and call it good for the car. There are over $15,000.00 in medical bills to date (ambulance, pregnant mother, 2 year old, grandma and grandpa with injuries..

Answer given on March 22, 2012

When a car is totaled in an accident, the insurance company will generally only pay for repairs if they are less than the current actual cash value of the car. The value of the car can be determined by the Blue Book or similar book or through local sales and values of a similar car. You can argue the value being offered by the insurance company, but the burden of proof is on you to show the car was worth more than the insurance company is offering. You can use internet ads, but they must be from the area in which you live, and not an ad from an area far away. There is no guarantee that they will be willing to pay the higher amount.The medical payments claims for the parties in the car have no effect on the settlment for the car, so those claims would be handled separately and often by a different insurance adjuster. Most insurance companies use different adjusters since the area of expertise can vary widely depending upon the type of claim.

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