What to do about an accident caused by the failure of my car’s gas and break system?

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What to do about an accident caused by the failure of my car’s gas and break system?

I had an accident in my 5 year old car. The gas pedal stuck, breaks did not work and I went through a fence. I was not badly injured, only a bump on the head. The auto body place thinks the car is fixable but I don’t think I can trust it or drive it again. I have not driven since the accident. I also don’t feel I should be responsible for any fees to the insurance company. I really do not want this car back as it may happen again. The manufacturer and insurer are fighting about who should pay for the damages to the car. Should I involve a litigation lawyer? In Randolhp, NJ.

Asked on September 26, 2011 under Accident Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The first question: how much are you potentially out of pocket. If it look like you'll get the value of the car (if it's totalled) or the cost to repair (if it's not), then that's typically all you are entitled to for the car damage. (i.e. the law doesn't have to care about whether you trust the car or not; all it cares about is compensating for the "blue book" value or the cost of repairs, whichever is lower.) If you were not injured in any significant way, or incurred much medical costs or lost wages, then it may be that your only financial exposure is for the deductible on the insurance. If that is the case, then assuming the deductible is in the $500 - $1,000 range (or even a bit higher), it is highly unlikely that an attorney would be worthwhile; you would spend more on lawyer fees than you could recover.


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