Matthew B. Troutman
Did you know that you can make a loss of use claim in a motor vehicle accident case when your car is not drivable or needs to be taken in for repairs?
"Loss of Use" is a legal term used to describe a Kentucky law (KRS 304.39-115) that allows the victim in an auto accident to obtain compensation from the at fault party for the loss of use of their vehicle after the accident until the vehicle is either fixed or replaced.
Will the at fault party's insurance company always agree to provide you a rental car or pay for your loss of use? No, there are several circumstances when the at fault insurance company refuses to pay your loss of use. A dispute on the liability issue will often prevent the payment of the loss of use claim. Generally, the insurance company must see that the police report places their insured at fault and that the insured agrees that they were at fault before they will provide a rental or pay loss of use damages. Many times there is a significant delay in providing a rental simply because the at fault driver fails to speak with their insurance company about the accident.
A second reason for not providing a rental is that you do not have collision coverage on your vehicle that you can use on the rental. Many insurance companies take the position that they will provide for the rental, but not the insurance on the rental. If you have collision coverage on the vehicle involved in the accident, you can transfer that to the rental. If you do not, then you will have to purchase insurance from the rental agency and their insurance is very expensive.
The length of time you are entitled to receive a rental or make a claim for loss of use is "the time necessary to repair or replace the vehicle." If there are delays in this process due to the at fault insurance company, then you should be entitled to loss of use during this time period. For instance, if your vehicle has been destroyed or totaled, then you should expect to keep the rental until the time you are paid for the vehicle. If your vehicle is being repaired, you should expect to keep the rental until the repairs are completed. You do not want to keep the rental beyond the time period specified by the statute or you may end up having to pay for it.
Sometimes the insurance companies take a hard-line position regarding the loss of use claim and you may need the assistance of an auto accident attorney to remind them of their statutory obligations. I have had to sue a few insurance companies, who refused to honor the loss of use statute.