Legal Question in Personal Injury in Wisconsin

My vehicle was legally parked on the street and a car hit it. The insurance company has investigated and foung the other driver had permisable use of the vehicle. They offered $1700, but if we wanted to keep our van it would cost us $800 of that $1700. In our area you can not find a van for less than $2600. Should we get a lawyer.

Asked on 1/17/11, 11:29 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Jonathan Safran Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C.

The insurance company would be responsible to pay you the reasonable cash value of your vehicle as of the date of the collision, as it appears that they have determined that it is a total loss. That means that they have apparently determined that the cost of repairs would exceed the cash value. The question is, "What is the actual cash value?" Most insurance companies use published sources for the value and may subscribe to services that will review values of vehicles in the vicinity of the collision location. You need to determine what source they have used and ask them for the printed documentation. If you choose to keep the vehicle and not sign the title to them for them to take possession, they will subtract what they determine they might receive for the salvage of selling the vehicle to another source. It appears that they have determined that to be $800, which seems high to me, based on the $1700 value, but again you should ask them for documentation of the salvage value offer that was made to them. You should continue to do your own search and provide them with documentation from dealers, used car sources, newspaper ads, etc. to convince them that the value is closer to your number than theirs. If there are vehicle features that they have not reflected on the total loss document that they provide to you, or if the mileage is off, then make sure that they have the information correct. This is probably not a case to have an attorney involved, and you may have to file suit in Small Claims Court, which you can do without an attorney, if you cannot reach a satisfactory agreemnt, but you will have to weigh that with the time and cost involved. If you go to hearing or trial in Small Claims Court, you will need to have "expert" testimony to support the value of the vehicle which you are claiming.

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Answered on 1/24/11, 7:59 am

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