Ask an Attorney a Question for FREE!

Old Car Accident | Value and Other Issues

by Lynn

I was in an accident last Wednesday evening where the driver of the other car went through a red turn light, in front of my car, where I had a green light. She was sited for fault on the police report.

My car is a 1990 Honda with over 309,000 miles on it. I have never been in an accident in the 18 years I owned that car, or in the years I have been driving.

I have not been able to speak with the claims adjuster, but opened a claim with the other drivers company the day after the accident.

I have not spoken with them because they have not been available when I call and they haven't returned my calls. Where I know this would not be a quick process, I need to make arrangements for my continued transportation.

The damage to my car, I would expect, would end up totaling my car as it's value may only be $1,500 at best.
Couple of questions:

1) The car has been sitting in the wrecker yard since the accident, should I leave it there until the adjuster looks at it or can I have it towed to someone for an estimate of damages?

2) If the adjuster does total the car, can I still retain the car and use it to trade it in as is? (the parts I would suspect are worth something).

3) I also put about $1,400 into servicing the car over the past 6 months, can I ask the adjuster to consider this when they make their evaluation?

I am in no position to afford a car and the accident has put me out considerably. I want a fair assessment and a fair compensation, but I doubt I'll make out good in this. Any suggestions on how to work with the adjuster to get be treated fairly would be appreciated as well.

Lastly, I had to get a rental, which is on my own dime right now as the adjuster has not called me to help me with that. Is it unusual for this part to take over a week?


Hi Lynn, WOW friend, we will try to answer your questions here and help you get the most out.

1) You need to send a letter (or email) with return receipt explaining where the vehicle is, why is been there, and that is been accruing charges. Tell them that you do not have money to get the car out of the yard and that you need help mitigating your damages.

You do have a duty to mitigate or to make the damages less than they should be. Leaving the car in a yard can come back and bite you, unless you put them in notice. Just write them a nice letter, but tell them. You did not cause the accident and you do not have money to get the car out.

They must make a quick determination or they must tow the vehicle to a storage free facility because you can't.

2. Yes you can. You can retain the vehicle as salvage. The process really is as follows:

The insurance company buys the car from you as if there was no accident, then they turn around and sell it to your for what it is worth as scraps. They will deduct the value of the salvage from the value of your settlement. They estimate what they can get for the car in an auction and then go from there.

3. You can argue that, but it will be highly disputed and adjusters will tell you that they do not need to consider this.

It is hard to say if they will consider this or not. We have seen insurance companies take some things into account, but they were very recent to the accident. It cannot hurt to ask.

Suggestions regarding the total: go to the total loss links in this website to learn more about documenting your claim to get more value for your car. We outline the process there and give some tips in what to do.

Your last question about the rental. We are concerned with the lack of communication.

It is usually faster than that, at least to get a recorded statement or some kind of original information. It could be that this time of the year is busy (winter causes accidents)... but again, you might not be in a "snow" state.

Don't let this go, be on top of it.

Good Luck

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Got Questions?.

Please see more answers to recent personal injury and auto accident questions below:

For a Free Review of Your Case
Please Call (866) 878-2432