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Mechanic wrecked my RV - what are my rights?

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Hi everyone,

This is my first post to the forum and I'm hoping you all can give me some advice!  I have a 2004 National Dolphin Class A motorhome.  I took my RV into a mechanic to have the generator worked on because it was shutting off intermittently while the RV was moving.  The mechanic took my RV out for a test drive and got into an accident.  The entire passenger side of the coach is damaged.  The shop claims they will pay to have it fixed but it's been over 3 weeks and I have gotten no information from them or a time frame as to how long it will take to fix my RV.  I have had to cancel plans because I can not use my RV.  

Plus this RV has never been in an accident so I'm worried this will drop the sale or trade-in value of the RV.  I'm just looking for some advice as to what my rights are and what obligations the mechanic shop has  in regards to the accident in my RV?  Should I call my own insurance company to let them know what happened even though the claim will be made through the mechanic's insurance policy?  I've called a couple of lawyers but they all want a retainer up-front and I don't know if or what they would be able to do to help.  I live in Florida and the RV is at a mechanic shop in Daytona Beach.

Thank you!

--Cheryl

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Cheryl.  Welcome to the Forum!

You should have called your insurance, the day it happened.  Do you have pictures, any thing in writing from owner of shop or shops insurance company...do you have the name of shop insurance?  If not, it's your word against theirs!  Have you checked to see if there is a police report?  If there is, get a copy and give it to your insurance!

As for value of your coach?  It's not in NADA anymore, so it's whatever you can get a buyer to pay for it.

Good Luck

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I can't speak for the laws in Florida, but here's how I would handle it:

First thing would be to request a copy of the police report, assuming that the shop reported the accident. Then I'd get copies of the shop's insurance documents. If I could get the name/number of the shop's insurance agent, I'd give them a call and see if you can light a fire under them.

Call your insurance company. If you have comprehensive and collision coverage, they should be able to authorize the repairs up to the limits of your policy. This will be the quickest way to get the repairs moving.

It will then be up to them to go after the shop and the shop's insurance company through a process called subrogation. You may or may not have to pay your deductible until your company is able to collect from the other party. If they are successful, then you'll get your deductible back. Also, if they are successful in collecting the claim should not count against you. If they don't collect, it will be up to the terms of your policy and state law if this counts against you.

Be aware through this process though, you are talking about a 14-15 year old coach. No matter how good the condition and how well it's been maintained, the total cost of the repairs might cross a threshold and cause the vehicle to be declared totaled. The insurance companies place far less value on vehicles of this age than owners typically do, and you might have a fight on your hands to convince them to repair it if that's what you want. Or, they might offer you a buy-out that satisfies you.

About the reduced value...

In Wisconsin there is case law about this. It's called 'diminished value' and the party at fault can be required to reimburse the injured party for the loss in resale value. It's part of the process of making the injured party 'whole' after the loss event. When my car was rear ended a couple of years ago I was able to collect about $1500 for diminished value. It was, however, quite a challenge since the insurance company wanted proof of the loss of value. I was lucky enough to be able to get a used car sales manager of the dealership to quote a value based on the post-collision value, which I compared against the guaranteed buyback program value. In the case of your coach this may be more difficult. Whatever you can collect for diminished value will also be subject to Florida statutes and case law, as well as the limits of the policy which is paying the claim.

Hope this is helpful. Feel free to send a PM if you have specific questions.

Welcome to the forum - hopefully you'll have many more joyful things to post about in the future.

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Good job explaining that Richard,  Best way to protect yourself in terms of the perceived value of the coach, is too have it appraised and then have a policy that is a "Stated value" policy otherwise the assigned value is Market value...big difference

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1 hour ago, thestoloffs said:

One minor correction to Richard's otherwise thorough explanation: The term is "subrogation", not "subjugation".

I'm going to blame autocorrect. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. 😉

(But thanks - I've corrected my original post and added the word to the autocorrect dictionary.)

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