Several questions should be asked when your vehicle is put out of commission due to an accident., including who was at fault, what type of coverage you and the other driver(s) carry, how badly your vehicle was damaged, whether it was used for personal or commercial purposes, which policy will cover your damages, to what extent, and whether Texas law can help you receive compensation for the loss of use of your vehicle. Let’s examine them all.
What Is Meant by ‘Loss of Use’ in Personal Injury Law?
How Does Fault Apply to Drivers in and Around Houston, TX?
Texas’ modified comparative negligence law assigns responsibility when more than one person is at fault for an accident. ‘Comparative negligence’ apportions any compensation received according to level of blame. For example, if you are 25% responsible, you may receive only 75% of your loss of use claim. Importantly, the ‘modified’ factor dictates that a driver found to be more than 50% at fault is not entitled to any compensation from other parties. They must rely on their own insurer.
How Does Loss of Use Apply to Commercial Vehicles?
If the driver isn’t the commercial vehicle’s owner/operator, their company will want to make the claim for loss of use to recover the lost income and pay for repairs or a replacement vehicle. However, the driver may still make a separate loss of use claim to compensate for lost wages. Such a claim could also be made by a driver whose car is leased for them by a rideshare service such as Uber, Lyft, Didi, or Ola.
Does Your Type of Insurance Coverage Matter?
Texas has four fundamental automobile coverages. All drivers must carry a minimum of $25,000 in liability insurance to cover damages to others in an accident. Most drivers also carry at least $15,000 in UM/UIM insurance to protect against uninsured and underinsured motorists. Collision insurance and comprehensive insurance are usually mandated by dealers when financing vehicles. As well as those four, there are supplemental coverages for theft, road service, and specialty items such as stereo systems.
The types of insurance you and others involved carry are important for securing a rental car during the loss of use of your vehicle. Texas law requires the driver at fault to provide any other drivers involved with a rental car while theirs undergo repairs. If you have comprehensive coverage, your insurer is obligated to provide you with a rental car. Policies with optional rental reimbursement typically cover rental costs during repair or replacement no matter who is at fault.
Does Your Vehicle’s Diminished Value After Repairs Come Under Loss of Use?
Following repairs, any body-work done to a vehicle can make it appear as perfect as the day it was purchased. Yet, even when there is no lasting damage to the chassis, your vehicle has automatically been entered in a database that indicates it was involved in a collision. That entry immediately lowers the resale value of your car for anyone, including dealers, who employ a service such as CarFax to research the accident history of used cars.
If your vehicle is involved in an accident that requires repairs, you should bring a claim for diminished value in addition to one for loss of use. Although a claim for diminished value is separate from one for loss of use, it will help you recover any lost resale value of your car. The key difference between the two is that diminished value is invalidated when you are, in any measure, at fault for the damage to your vehicle.
Are There Any Laws Covering the Type of Rental Car Insurers Must Provide?
Some insurance companies will do anything to minimize a settlement. That includes ignoring the law when dealing with uninformed claimants. For that reason, it’s important to know that, beyond the mandate to provide rental cars to drivers suffering from loss of use, Texas demands the vehicle supplied be of the same class as the one damaged. If you were driving a luxury sedan, they cannot saddle you with a tiny subcompact. Know your rights if you want leg and headroom.
Ideally, your representatives should possess the experience of having served as personal injury lawyers for the citizens of Houston, TX for 70 years. A large firm with the resources and knowledge to fight on your behalf can assist you in receiving the full compensation you deserve due to loss of use, diminished value, and other costs resulting from an automobile accident. Contact Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz, and Stogner today to schedule a free consultation in person or online.