Legal Question in Personal Injury in North Carolina

Three days ago someone ran over my parked motorcycle in a parking lot. The driver of the car has insurance. However, it looks like my motorcyle may be totaled as the estimated cost of repairs appears to be over the Blue Book value of the motorcycle. This motorcycle was in mint condition. I had planned to keep this for many years to come and owed only $1800.00 on it. If the insurance compnay "totals" the mortorcycle and I receive Blue Book value, this means I have to go backwards - into debt again and basically start over to replace my motorcycle. Is it possible to take the person who ran over my motorcycle to small claims court to recoup the difference between what the insurance company pays and what it will cost me to replace my motorcycle?

Asked on 6/24/11, 5:05 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

No. A driver is only liable for what the vehicle was worth. If it was worth $500 then that is what you get. If it is worth $2000 then that is what you get. It does not matter whether you still owe or not or that you were planning on keeping the bike long after it was paid off and essentially driving for free.

Your options are: (1) if you think the bike can be repaired for less, you can take whatever the insurance compay is offering less what it will cost to buy back the bike for salvage value and get the bike fixed back up (and have a branded title) or; (2) get whatever the total loss figure is and go get an equivalent replacement; or (3) go into debt and get a new vehicle.

That said, you can try to maximize your recovery of what the vehicle is worth by doing some homework. Don't go by just the Blue Book value or figure given to you by the insurer. The insurer's numbers are not realistic and are much lower than real world value. Get the cost of what it will really cost you to go out in the marketplace and find a bike as close as you can get to what the same make, model and mileage and see what it is selling for. That is the figure you need to fight for and get documentation to give to the insurer to justify your demands.

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Answered on 6/27/11, 2:28 pm

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