car accident insurance advice
April 28, 2005 6:21 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend was rear-ended a few days ago and the rear of her car is damaged. It's still very driveable, but she has to do a ton of little things like meet with the adjuster, get estimates for repairs, etc. The insurance company of the guy who hit her has been decently accomodating so far, but I'm wondering if she's eligible for compensation for the time it will take to comply with their procedures? And how do we go about asking for that if indeed she is?
posted by Mayor Curley to Work & Money (17 answers total)
If you're talking about having the ins comp. pay for lost tiem from work- good luck.

They are really only going to pay for damages to the car.

But if you are a long term customer, and kick and scream enough, you may get lucky.....
posted by stevejensen at 6:41 AM on April 28, 2005

It's actually the insurance company of the other party (who was at fault) that is paying for the repairs. Does that change the situation?
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:44 AM on April 28, 2005

No, but it never hurts to ask. If nothing else, they might be able to better accommodate her schedule, etc.
posted by ajr at 6:54 AM on April 28, 2005

Or... have her explain that she simply can't miss work to see the adjuster and ask to set up an off-hours appointment. Ask whether they have an adjuster that can come to her home. (If she's going to spend time doing this, maybe she can at least do it on her schedule and at her convenience.)
posted by Doohickie at 7:14 AM on April 28, 2005

You may have more luck in USA but it's usual in car-type insurance cases that only actual losses are recompensed.
If your girlfriend could not reasonably attend to the necessary details following the accident without incurring some form of loss -- particularly from her job -- then she would have a very good basis to argue that insurance ought to cover that loss of income. (or reasonable travel costs/replacement vehicle etc)

('reasonable' is usually the operative word - and there's always a wide interpretation applied by interested parties)

So, no, it is very very unlikely that your girlfriend would have any basis for claiming some sort of hourly rate for her time simply attending to the details.
posted by peacay at 7:20 AM on April 28, 2005

In a word: No.

A side query (not meant to deride Mayor Curley in any way): Where did this concept of compensation for time lost to the detail of life come from? I hear it so often that it's really beginning to bother me.
posted by FlamingBore at 7:34 AM on April 28, 2005

This is a tort settlement issue. It's all about what they will pay you off to avoid a court case, and it is determined by case law precedent. Generally you will need mounds of documentation that overwhelmingly proves that you have lost significant money in order to win. If you don't have that, don't bother.
posted by randomstriker at 7:48 AM on April 28, 2005

In both cases when my car was hit, the other drivers' adjusters were more than courteous about getting their information at my convenience.
posted by mischief at 9:13 AM on April 28, 2005

Where did this concept of compensation for time lost to the detail of life come from? I hear it so often that it's really beginning to bother me.

Follow the steps and see if it makes sense:

1. She was struck by someone else. 2. She will have to use work time to remedy a situation that she did not create. 3. She is paid for time spent at work in cash and discretionary hours away called "time off," which are redeemable for cash. 4. She will have to redeem some of these hours because someone else was leering at pedestrians instead of watching the road. 5. As previously stated, this hours are worth actual money, according to her employer. 6. She will no longer have a portion of them because of someone else's negligence. 7. Therefore, the accident will force her to lose something (intangible) of value to her.

Is that clear enough? As others have stated, the loss in intagible enough that we can not expect compensation, and we can live with that. But can you see how this is costing something to the victim? (and I use "victim" in the strictest sense-- I'm not implying that this is a tragedy.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:13 AM on April 28, 2005

"discretionary hours away called 'time off', which are redeemable for cash"

There you go right there, Mayor Curley. Her employer is already compensating her for her time away from the job.
posted by mischief at 9:16 AM on April 28, 2005

IANAL (and as far as I can see no one else who has replied yet is either), but a very similar thing happened to me - e.g., my girlfriend was rear-ended and we had to go into a protacted settlement negotiation. Here is what I learned:

1) If your GF was rear-ended and there were no extenuating circumstances, then the other driver is at fault, and thus liable for whatever costs your GF incurs as a result of the accident. This includes material costs of fixing the car, car rental costs if she needs to rent a car, medical expenses, lost time from work, etc.

2) She can and should ask for anything that you want in negotiating. Don't listen to people who say "don't bother." She might not get it, but it cannot hurt to ask during the negotiations.

3) Do not settle immediately. Wait until you have a good idea of what all of her expenses is before settling. The insurance company will try to settle as quickly as possible, probably by being accomodating and offering her a lump sum that sounds like a nice big number but not actually cover all of the eventual costs.

4) You don't indicate how severe the accident was, but in a rear-end collision there is always the possibility of injuries, possibly ones that take a few days or weeks to become evident. My GF was hit by a driver who was only going about 20 MPG, but still had a bad case of whiplash and pain and back problems that lingered for months and required several forms of therapy. If this was just a fender-bender then it might not apply; if it was more, and/or if your GF is suffering any pain, get it checked out.

5) Document everything. If she is going to ask for compensation for time lost (from work or otherwise) then she needs to document exactly when and how long all of these activities took. Documenting things indicates the seriousness of your claim - better to give a list of times and dates and a total indicating 15 hours of time than to say "oh, and we want $500 for all the hassle."

Good luck.
posted by googly at 9:21 AM on April 28, 2005

On postview: since her employer has assigned a cash value to the time lost, you can use that in your claim against the insurance company. Document this and put it into your claim.

And if we're talking about a significant amount of money here, then let me add:

6) See a lawyer before negotiating a settlement, to get advice on how to approach the negotiation. I paid a lawyer $100 bucks for an hour's worth of advice on how to present my case and what to expect, and it was well worth it.
posted by googly at 9:25 AM on April 28, 2005

Mayor Curley, I don't exactly understand from your description the basis of your girlfriend's employment but that doesn't really matter.

The 2 question are:

1. Did she actually lose money because of attendance for accident followups? (loss of leave entitlements etc is the same as loss of income)

2. Was there any negotiation with the relevant people to make the appointment times (as far as possible) so that they didn't clash with her obligations and/or mimimize her losses?

If the answer to both of the questions is yes then she needs to collect the evidence (including her employer's statement by the looks of things; together with example paypackets, work timesheets, contact details for people she called to discuss the accident appointments) and submit everything to the insurer. She ought to include a letter explaining the details of 1 & 2.
It then becomes a measure of the insurance rep's/their company's attitude. If the loss follows from the accident and it is not unduly remote from the cause, then she ought to be compensated, as long as she acted reasonably in all the circumstances.
If she fufills all these criteria/obligations and is met by bastardry at the insurance company then only a lawyer will be able to help (but if they act reasonably, then something you describe as 'intangible' should be able to be nutted out to a best calculated approximation)
posted by peacay at 9:39 AM on April 28, 2005

I was rear-ended by a drunk driver a few years ago.

Have your girlfriend see a doctor and document ANY aches, pains, or other symptoms that she might be having. Your spinal cord and neck are very delicate critters, and she can get headaches, pains in weird places like her leg, etc.

Presuming he's at fault, the other guy's insurance company will pay for all repairs and for a rental car that your girlfriend needs. They should just pay directly to the auto repair and rental place, though you may want your insurance company to handle the transactions.

At some point the other party's insurance company will start talking about a settlement, meaning they will give you money to compensate you for whatever, at which point your girlfriend will have to sign a document indicating that this case is closed, basically.

Some of the injuries only show up after some time passes, so do not accept any settlement talks for several months. When your girlfriend, her doctor, whatever are ready, the other guy's insurance company will float a figure that is their offer to you. The amount is basically to make you happy - I didn't have to submit any expenses or anything - the money was just for me to use as I wished, though you may have to use that money to pay for doctor's expenses, or to compensate your girlfriend's employer for time taken, etc., so be sure that the amount is something that you're happy with.
posted by jasper411 at 9:44 AM on April 28, 2005

Don't let the insurer (or anyone in this thread for that matter) tell you they can't do it. They can. Assuming the insurer is not also your GF's insurer, it's the adjuster's job to get rid of her for as little money as possible and s/he is willing to make your GF's life miserable in the process. They will accomodate her schedule only if she demands it. They are paid to screw you. Don't let them dictate the terms. Ask for what you think is fair (or a little more...) and mean it. They sense fear and hesitation the same way dogs do.
posted by jaysus chris at 10:20 AM on April 28, 2005

Almost every state defines property damage and bodily injury as separate torts. You can settle one without forfeiting your right to settle the other at a later time as long as you do it within your state's applicable statute of limitations. Just be careful about any document requiring a signature or endorsement that contain words similar to "FULL AND FINAL SETTLEMENT FOR ALL CLAIMS". Adjusters negotiate claims based on what they know is legally recoverable by law. A smart adjuster will not consider the inconvenience factor when it comes to settling property damage claims because state statutes normally give clear definitions on what is legally recoverable when it comes to property damage. It's bodily injury where the definitions are less clear. At the same time the adjuster has responsibility to properly investigate, evaluate, and resolve your claim in a timely manner with the least inconvenience to you. Hint: One item that is legally recoverable but seldom claimed is diminished value. [generic auto claim information]
posted by oh posey at 10:22 AM on April 28, 2005

I've been rear ended a few times, and found myself in similar situations. Here are some simple lessons I have learned.

The insurance company of the guy that hit you wants to pay as little as possible. The adjusters job is to make things such an inconvenience that you will want to settle quickly and get on with your life. (Just as JC pointed out)

There is an easy way to solve this. Get a lawyer. Instantly your life becomes much easier. The lawyer handles all communication with the adjuster, and gets you a decent settlement with a minimal impact on your time. That's the lawyer's job, and they get paid pretty well for it.

As creepy as it might seem, the lawyer is well worth it.
posted by wezelboy at 2:53 PM on April 28, 2005

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