Legal Issues with auto body damage in an accident

UPDATED: Jun 10, 2009

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Legal Issues with auto body damage in an accident

I was hit from behind, causing $7300 damage – part of which is frame damage. The insurance co has decided to fix the car, what recourse do I have? Do I have to accept the decision and is my car now devalued?

Asked on June 10, 2009 under Accident Law, Alabama


L.M., Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Typically insurance companies will "total" a vehicle if it would cost more to repair than to replace it.  If that is not the case, and it's a close call, the insurance company can basically do what it wants, but you do have some recourse.  Gather documentation to support what you believe the value of your car is and what it will take to fix it and show them that it should be a total loss if that's what you believe. You also have the option of making use of the Appraisal Clause in your policy if you believe your car is worth less than (or more than) the insurance company says.  It provides that you and your insurer may each hire an appraiser to determine the value of the vehicle.  If the two appraisers agree, it's settled.  If not, a third (referee) appraiser is hired to help reach the decision.  While it is true that a vehicle with frame damage can devalue the car, fram damage can also be repaired, so you might want to also get the opinions of a few body work professionals on this matter.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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