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Outrageous Car Accident Claim

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  • Outrageous Car Accident Claim

    I was in a minor car accident in San Francisco in 2007. I was at fault. I drove straight in one of the "right-turn only" lanes, the car on my left turned right & side swiped my rental car. We weren't going faster than approximately 5 miles per hour because the collision occurred 2 seconds after we moved from a full stop. I called 911 and was told the police would not make a trip to the scene unless the cars were immobile or there were personal injuries. I took pictures of the damages. My 2007 Chrysler 300C rental car had more damages costing $1,000, which AMEX covered. Now, 2 1/2 years later, the rental car's lawyer sent me an "estimated" bill for $4,500 (70% of which is labor!) that the rental company claimed they paid for the minor scratches and dents to the other party's 2000 Toyota Solara. It seems to me that the rental car company is trying to take advantage of me by charging me an outrageous amount for a car that had less damages than the rental car I was driving. As an AMEX cardholder, I only have collision coverage. AMEX does not provide its members liability coverage. Since AMEX covered me for collision damages to the brand new rental car, I guess the car rental company couldn't ask AMEX to pay an outrageous amount for such damages. Instead, the car rental company is preying on me because they know I have no liability coverage under AMEX. What should I do? I live in NYC. Should I let them take me to court? The car rental company already hired a law firm to contact me? How should I respond to the law firm? Is it worth it for me to appear in court in San Francisco? Or, should I just pay the outrageous amount for which I'm being billed? Also, I asked the law firm for an actual paid bill and they told me that they can only provide the estimated bill given to them by the rental car company. Is this an acceptable business practice for them to ask me to reimburse them for an "estimated" vs. an "actual" bill? What about the fact that they've had my contact information and I'm being contacted 2 1/2 years later? Is this also a "fair" business practice?

  • #2
    Re: Outrageous Car Accident Claim

    Force Amex to firstly deal with the issue.

    And demand all bills before you will even consider discussing this with them.

    You can deny you were at fault? How can they prove fault? Were you ticketed?


    • #3
      Re: Outrageous Car Accident Claim

      I can't force AMEX to deal with this issue. I read their policy (in fine print), which states that they only cover collision damages for the car I'm renting when I pay with my AMEX card. I didn't find out about this until recently. The car rental contract states that I'm responsible for liability damages to other vehicles.

      I already admitted (right after the accident) to the car rental company and the other party's insurance that the accident was my fault. It's written in the accident report I filed with the car rental company. No tickets were issued. I don't have an issue with paying for damages I caused to the other vehicle because it was indeed my fault and I want to do the right thing. But I don't want to pay for unrelated or overinflated repair expenses.

      I plan to take or send the photos, as well as the estimated bill from the car rental company, to a couple of repair shops in order to obtain estimates. If I get a lower estimate, and the car rental company still refuses to provide me with an "actual paid" receipt, I will negotiate the payment based on the lowest estimate I receive. This may not be a good move because the negotiation may end up in court and costing me more money (legal fees, travel, etc.)

      Also, even though the pictures I took clearly shows that the new car I was driving had far more damages, I am concerned that photos may be deemed non-conclusive since one cannot 100% prove the extent of the damage from a photo. This would make any new estimates I receive based on the photos non-conclusive. Am I correct?

      I know you don't have all the information and I'm repeating myself, but this is what's troubling me. According to the estimated bill provided by the car rental company's attorney, the labor cost for repairing the other older vehicle (which had less damages) was 70% ($3,150) of the total estimated bill ($4,500). AMEX paid the car rental company $1,000 for the repair of the brand new rental car I was driving, which had more damages. This means the labor for the new car only costs $700. How can the other older car, with less damages, cost four times more in terms of labor cost? To put things in perspective, the pictures show that the older car had minor dents and scratches on the right fender, as well as a broken right head light. The newer car I was driving had dents and scratches on the left fenders (front and back), plus a broken (nearly detached) side view mirror. Am I being unreasonable in terms of my assessment?

      Also, if I provide the repair shops a copy of the estimated bill from the car rental company and the estimated bill contains false information to arrive at the total amount, it is possible that the other repair facilities may come up with the same total based on false information. Correct?

      Lastly, since the repairs already happened and took place after the estimated bill was issued by the repair shop, why can't I get a copy of the paid receipt? What if there was less work done or if the repair shop overestimated the bill? Don't I have the legal right to request and pay against a paid receipt vs. an estimated bill? Or, am I legally required to pay even if the car rental company and its attorney refuses to provide me with a paid receipt?


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