mom in a wreck, need advice

ctaylor5July 6, 2007

What is the name of your state? Texas

About three weeks ago, my mother (63) a law abiding safe driver was going thru a traffic light (green) when another driver made an illegal left turn and ran into the front of her car. The other driver recieved the ticket and no injuries were apparent at the time, her car had to be towed away and was undrivable. The other drivers insurance is dragging thier feet, gave her a car rental (not equivilent to hers) at our insistence and now says her car will be considered "totaled". Problem: My mother is on a fixed income and cannot afford a car payment, hers was paid off. They say they will give her $5000, but looking up a replacement to buy they are all in the range of $8000 an up. This has been a huge inconvienance and emotional drain on her. The other insurance is rude and treats her as it was her fault.They also said she has [B]one[/B] day to make a descision after they "total" her car.

She did take it to her automobile repair guy and he assesses the damage to fix would be around $7500 and obviously at that point driving around a car that has had extreme repairs and I feel not safe....... Any suggestions or advice would be welcomed and appreciated.

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Mom needs to tell the insurance company she has been having some neck and back pain.Atleast $3000.00 worth of pain anyway.Maybe that will make them see it her way?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 11:31PM
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They're just bluffing. The other driver was cited so the company doesn't have a leg to stand on and they know it.

What's book value for the car? That's what they have to pay. They're going to try to get you to settle in a hurry because of the rental car if for no other reason.

The cane and neck brace idea is a good one in this case. Determine what the book value of the car is, then call the company opening up with the 'you know my neck's been hurting since the accident, I want to see a doctor' line. Then tell them you'll settle for the value of the car. You'll get it.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2007 at 1:52AM
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i went through this about 2 yrs ago with my mom, dont back down! i went right to the other drivers insurance company, and said heres the way it is, your going to replace moms car with one in the same condition and not cause her any problems, or she is going to her doctor complaining of back and neck pain, and we are calling our lawyer. long story short, they took care of things fast.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2007 at 7:51PM
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Friend balked at the totaled price and after a bit of time not accepting their deal, they offered to let him go find the same make/model/year with comparable options and they would pay for that car - and that's exactly what he did.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2007 at 9:00PM
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Your Mom's insurance company may be willing to help with this battle. Let them fight the other insurance company for you.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 8:26AM
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I also went through something like that when the other person's insurance company only offered $1200 on my car which was appraised by a few body shops at around $2500 . Threatening to turn the matter over to an attorney got the offer up to $2100 - all I really wanted was $1800 . Insurance companies always lowball you on what the value of your wrecked car is , you've got to haggle with them and you can get advice on this from your own insurance company , even if they won't take up the matter for you . I always got a message from their insurance company on my machine and when I called them back it was always to their voicemail -so don't be surprised if you can't reach a real actual person since the number they gave me was never answered . The whole price negotiation was done over answering machines !

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 11:36AM
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**Your Mom's insurance company may be willing to help with this battle. Let them fight the other insurance company for you.**

Funny thing about that, sometimes the situation arises where the other person is insured and at fault, and your insurance company won't do a darn thing if they don't pay you. What usually happens when two cars collide is both party's file a claim against the other's insurance, claiming the other was at fault. Then the insurance company's make a deal amongst themselves as to who's going to pay for how much. The party's get their cars fixed, replaced, whatever, less all or a percentage of their deductible.

Here's where the strategy comes in if you're the party clearly at fault. Don't file a claim. By not filing a claim, the blameless persons insurance company doesn't have a financial interest it it at all and has no incentive to get involved. The person who's at fault's insurance company can just tell the damaged party to go away knowing their insurance company probably won't get involved, and the damaged party will have to get a lawyer and sue. That takes money and they'll gamble that the person won't have the money or the resolve to persue it further.

Not very nice, but it happens.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 10:50PM
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Replacement cost does not cut it anyway.You should get more then the value of the car.What about your time?Your trouble?Your loss the replacement might be a lemon or you might have replaced items example altenator,waterpump.The replacement POS might put you back at the repair shop?You might have taken exceptional care of your car.The replacement might have been drove hard and put away wet.

You always have to have a neck pain and back pain or more.Its terrible to have to be that way.But you never asked to have you car destroyed.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 10:01PM
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Thanks for all the encouragement, Its time for mom to get tough!!!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 3:52PM
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Your mom is entitled to be made whole. If she was driving a car with 40,000 miles on it she's entitled to a car with a 40,000 mile value. If the car had 100,000 miles on it that's what she's entitled to.
And the fact there's new tires on it or some other recent expense means nothing. Those were costs to keep the car running and safe on the road. "Normal operating expenses."

And if she DOESN'T have neck or back pain and she claims she does, that's FRAUD! Don't go there. Besides, it will have NO bearing on how much she gets for her car. It's a different claim altogether.

And the adjuster could care less if you threaten to get a lawyer. The response will be: "Have your attorney send us a letter of representation and we will foward it to our legal department". And after your attorney sends the letter, the insurance company will no longer talk to your mother directly. ALL communication will go through the attorneys.
But you may have to pay a lawyer a couple hundred to negotiate the claim.

You must show some documentation such as NADA, or Kelly Bluebook to prove your mom's car's value. Maybe some car ads for like cars with like mileage. You are entitled to the RETAIL value of the car MINUS any prior damage. Also you are entitled to the SALES tax on that value.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 7:49AM
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**And if she DOESN'T have neck or back pain and she claims she does, that's FRAUD! Don't go there. Besides, it will have NO bearing on how much she gets for her car. It's a different claim altogether.**

And the adjuster could care less if you threaten to get a lawyer.**

chris, you must either be an associate of the insurance industry or had very many experiences in making a claim. If you read the original posters complaint, it's that she can't get a car like the one totaled for less than $8k, the insurance company offered $5k. That is not being made whole. All an insurance company cares about is minimizing it's losses, period. They'll send you to Bondo Bob's Discount Body Filler and Rattle Can Paint Specialties for repairs if they can talk you into it.

Pay high book or low book...or less, which do you think they'll offer regardless of condition of the car? Hmmmm, that's a tuf one. If floating the idea about maybe having an injury is fraud, what is offering $5k for a $8k + car when your insured is 100% at fault? You're are right about the adjuster, he doesn't care what you say or do. The company does. They know when they're low balling someone. They count on people not doing any research and taking whatever they offer. Offer a person 1/2 what the car is worth, making the damaged party do the leg work to 'prove' the car is worth more, when that info is readily at their finger tips. Nice guys. Sometimes you got to lean on them to get them to do the right thing. Otherwise you might as well bend over and grab your ankles.

Been there a few times. More often than not, the insurance company's focus is not on making the damaged party whole.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 10:03PM
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I can assure you I have NOTHING to do with an insurance company. And I have been driving since 1964 and never had a serious accident. But I do know what's right.
Many people tend to inflate the condition of a car when they want to be paid for it. That's human nature. We do not know the condition of the car before the accident so we cannot say what the car is worth.

But if the car is indeed worth 8K and they are offered 5K there must be a resaon. So life steps in. And life ain't always pretty. The OP may have to get somebody to negotiate the claim for them.

***They'll send you to Bondo Bob's Discount Body Filler and Rattle Can Paint Specialties for repairs if they can talk you into it.***

If they do, in most states, they MUST GUARANTEE the repair to the customer's satisfaction. And in my years I haven't seen "Bobs Bondo" used as an "approved" facility. Up here the local Ford/Mercury/Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep dealer is the approved collision shop.

But now that I think about it, 90% of auto body facilities are clean, bright, well run places and I would guess that 95% of them are approved shops. They have the latest in equipment and many have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars keeping up with the techniques needed to repair automobiles today. I know for a fact the above mentioned dealer did.

I haven't seen a "Bob's Bondo" shop in over 30 years.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2007 at 8:07AM
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So you think '63 year old mom' is looking to cut a fat hog by wanting $8k to replace her totaled vehicle, a vehicle that was lost in an accident that according to the police she was not at fault? That is an outrages sum of money alright. What do you think she'd do with that windfall? LOL!

I don't know where you live christopherh, but I want to go there. For such innocence to still exist in a person your age. You either live in a special place where people aren't trying to take advantage of you all the time, never do anything so nothing bad could happen to you, or you're continually getting scr*wed and are to dumb to know it.

I guarantee you in most places, if you're not halfway watching out for your own interests, nobody else is going to, including your insurance company. Go in blind and trust them to help you, they'll send you to the cheapest place, not the best place, to have your car fixed. Don't like the results? What are you going to do about it? From the sounds of it, you'd do nothing. The insurance company and the shop will both say they've paid and done all they're going to. Now what. In the case of a totaled car, they'll usually try to get you to settle for the least amount possible, not what it's worth, not what it would cost you to get another similar vehicle. If they were willing to do that it'd be so easy. Go find another car, same make, model, mileage, year, ect, purchase it whether it be from a private party or dealer, the amount paid is irrelevant, and get reimbursed from the insurance company. What could be more fair than that? The damaged party would be even. They won't do it. In the world of right and wrong that you live in, what's wrong with that?

Insurance companies exist to make money. They do that by taking insured peoples money and investing it. They also do that by minimizing their losses. That means paying out as little as possible, not paying what restores a damaged party. They don't care. That's why rules had to be made that states you can have your car repaired by whatever shop you choose. It's still up to you to find one that refuses to do shoddy work that satisfies the insurance company. In the case of the totaled car, it's also up to you to find out it's true value. BWHAAHAAHAA, trust the insurance company. That's a good one. I only wish you could.

Here's an unrelated story on the goodness of mankind. A few years ago, a couple purchased a brand new mini-van from a dealership in the next town. The husband was the sole financial support for the family. They drove the vehicle home, a distance of about 15 miles. This would be the only trip they ever took in that vehicle. That evening, the husband had a heart attack and died. The widow calls the dealership explaining the situation and informing them she can't keep the income. The dealerships response was they won't take it back because it's now a used car. That was their position till the story broke in the local newspaper. Then they decided to take the car back. In your world of right and wrong, one shouldn't have to apply pressure to get a company to do the right thing. The reality is, sometimes you do.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2007 at 12:25PM
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also that not completly true when it comes to paying for new tire, recent major repairs, etc. if you have receipts for major work repairs etc, you can get more money. i`ve done it. the four times i have had to deal with the ins. companys on my cars, i have to say i havent had any problems. only with my moms wreck, and they did eventualy pay.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 4:51AM
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I haven't had any trouble so to speak either with my own company. I still had to watch out for myself. 30 years ago someone crossed the center line and ran into my car, they had no insurance, I had full coverage. Just for grins I asked for a recommendation from my insurance company where to have my car repaired. My insurance would have to pay. Included in the shops was 'bondo bob's', a place everyone knew did cheap work about 10 levels below maaco. At the time I believe they were still playing the 'pay the lowest of three estimates' game. So much for trusting them to give me a good recommendation. A couple of years ago, an uninsured motorist ran into my daughters car. They totaled it. We were the original owners of this car, it still looked like new, and I'd just put new tires on it. Top book was around $2k. Their offer less the $500 deductable, something like $800. I looked up ads and got pricing from kelly's and the like. Everything that was for sale that were comparable were over $2k. Top book was around there too. They were offering low book of the lowest pricing guide they could find. I said just a gawdam minute here! I suggested they just let me go buy another car like the wrecked one, I'll eat the first $500, they pay the rest. They weren't interested in the least. The insurance company sent a guy out to look at the wrecked car who did say, yeah, it was a nice car. Next offer after the deductable was $1600. Of that, I bought the car back from them for $200. The $1400 left over went to repairing the car, every penny of it. The car still looks and runs good, only now it has a salvage title which probably really makes it an $800 car now.

The moral of the story is you always have to watch out for yourself.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 10:24AM
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I'd also like to visit where christopherh lives - somewhere where there hasn't been a Bondo Bobs in over 30 years . I can think of 4 of them in my area , and that's just off the top of my head ! As far as the insurance company not caring if you threaten to get an attorney , the one I dealt with sure did when their offer went from $1200 to $2100 .

    Bookmark   August 6, 2007 at 8:41AM
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Sorry guys, you wouldn't like where I live. We don't lock our doors at night and many even leave the keys in the car when they go to the store. But in summertime we keep the windows closed and the car locked because if we don't we'll find someone has put zucchini on the front seat!

Our local dealer is a small operation. They have a showroom that has space for MAYBE two cars if you squeeze them in. But he did just spend $200,000 on a state of the art body repair facility.

We live on a dirt road. 55% of all roads in our state are unpaved. Neighbors know each other and we have no malls around. The closest mall is an hour away.

I have a woodstove for primary heat in my 4 year old home. My heating bill was under $450 last year. And it got to -20 degrees numerous times in January.

Our town is 43 square miles and has 850 people. Our local elementary school has 56 kids in grades K through 6. Second grade will have TWO students in it this fall.

We go to the general store for the necessities. We can get everything from milk to a shovel right there. And if you're a little short, they still run a "tab".

We have an annual "Town Meeting" in March where we vote on all the budgets, from the road dept on up to the school budget. And neighbors actually discuss the agenda.

No, you guys won't like Vermont at all. I grew up in Noo Joisey and they don't PRINT enough money for me to go back there!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2007 at 8:50AM
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Gary, I'm glad I don't have to live where you do.
Even growing up in Joisey, I never encountered such cynicism. What's it like not to trust people? What's it like having to worry about being "taken advantage" of all the time?

Gee, we see our neighbors walking down the road and they end up on the porch talking for an hour.

Last winter I was in the general store and these young snow bunnies came in looking for directions to the interstate.
This old grizzled Vermonter said "Going to New York?"
"Yeah, we want to get back to civilization."
"Ah, yes New York City. A place where you must lock your doors with 3 locks. A place where you have a beautiful park and are afraid to go into it at night, A place where you can be shot or stabbed for your nice coat or new sneakers. A place where can get your car radio stolen just because someone else wants it."
"And you call THAT 'civilized!'"

Another incident happened a short time ago.
A kid was working at a local gas station and decided to just quit. He locked the door and left. When the owner found out, he realized the pumps were left on. But when he got to the station he opened the door and found money inside. People slipped their money under the door when they got gasoline. He read the pumps and counted the money. "I owe somebody change!" Would people do that where you live or would they "take advantage" of the situation?

I do craft shows for a living. There was a teeneager in the booth next to me last week helping her parents. She saw a $20 bill on the ground in front of the both and picked it up. A short time later two teenage girls were looking for something near the booth. The young lady asked what they was looking for. "I lost 20 dollars". That young lady gave her the bill she found. She could have "taken advantage" and kept the money, but she did the right thing.

And that's the difference between where you and I live.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 8:06AM
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I live in NJ and now I don't want to visit where christopherh lives . I want to move there when I retire !

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 10:05AM
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Vt is only 5 hours away, but worlds apart.
I would suggest you do some research before moving. Come up for a visit and see firsthand all the nothing that's up here. There are places you can visit like

and see something unusual. There are picturesque town greens all over the state. Do a google for images of Vermont and see firsthand.

The link below is the "West End" of our little town.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 6:57AM
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Okay I am moving to Vermont, that is what I want, honestly, I am so sick of overcrowded schools and rude people (and I live in a realitivly small city, Joplin, MO.) 25 kids to a classroom:(

ctaylor, I hope your mother got tough, my father-in-law is now a insurance adjuster and before that he ran a dealership collision center for 25 years, so I know a little bit about this insurance stuff. They will pay I can guarantee you.
I got into a car wreck a few years back, it was my fault I admit, well they said I ran a stop sign, but I didn't, I was confused and trying to figure out which way I needed to go, I started to slowly cross and wham! her skid marks were scary, they were pointed TOWARDS my car, not away, she had another lane to go too, but she may not of seen me either. She was hopping around screaming at me I was busy trying to get my infant out of the car as I was in the middle of the intersection and all I could think about was another car hitting mine with my baby in it, she was fine I could swear it, the way she was ranting and raving, waving her arms and such, the police got there and all of a sudden she was hurt and had to go sit in her car. My father-in-law was the adjuster on her car (small world) he told us she was claming all kinds of medical injuries. I didn't care and I never heard another thing about it after my phone interviews with both insurance companies, this is what we pay them to do, and your mothers should fight for her as well, if they don't I would think about getting another insurance agent.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 2:44AM
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Belive it was 2000 (was the night of the grand finale on the very first Survivor TV series,lol) I was stopped at a red light, and a kid hit me from behind. Cops estimated he was doing between 40-60 km an hr! My brand new Acura Integra (maybe 1 month old) was a mess. I walked away with just a slightly sore neck (didn't got hospital)But car appeared to be a write off. I had bought the extra insurance which in the case of a write off, got me a my a brand new car, glad ipaif a bit extra for it!! But of course the insurance company didn't see it as a write off! At first they said was only $5000 damage, ya right, back end is all smashed in, crumple zones on hood and around doors is crumpled!! Next they said maybe $10,000 damage! I got sick of their responses and went to ICBC (the insurance company in British Columbia) the claim stil had to go through them (my extra insurance was through a private company) I scheduled an appt, and explained the situation, and they agreed to look into it. Shortly after I got a call from the private insurance company, and they agreed the car was a write off, and wrote me a cheque for $30,000 some dollars! One has to stand up and fight, of course they want to pay as little as possible. they are not there to do you any favors, they are there to make $$$.
I to enjoy a smaller place to live. I grew up in a small city (25,000) in north central Saskatchewan. Now reside outside Washington DC,lol I will take a slower paced lifestyle any day!! Always enjoyed driving through the small farm communities, most people wave. They wave here to in DC, but tis usually with their middle finger,lol

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 10:55AM
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Wow christopherh that's so picturesque it could be a greeting card. Don't know about retiring all the way up there though (too cold) , but western PA is looking pretty good right now - night and day between NJ and PA . Especially when the wackjob governor of NJ is thinking of taxing 401k plans !

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 5:47PM
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