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Patrick H.
Patrick H., Lawyer
Category: Australia Law
Satisfied Customers: 5403
Experience:  Dip Law LPAB - Sydney based lawyer
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Hello I had a low speed accident and crashed into the back

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Hello
I had a low speed accident and crashed into the back of a rental car. The damage was minor to the rear bumper, light, and tailgate. the vehicle was a 2012 Subaru liberty outback.
I have some knowledge in the cost to repair a vehicle and the price I would think would be around $4000.00 max, the cost that the Rental company is trying to charge me is $7500.00
I didn't have insurance on my vehicle.
I would imagine that the insurance company would have there own insurance and that the insurance company would chase me for the money not the rental.
The Rental company which is Eurocar has only send through a copy of an estimate from the repairer not a tax invoice.
I have also received a letter from Mendelsons Debt Collection saying that there client Eurocar would consider a instalment arrangement or a reduced lump sum payment, which to me if they are offering a reduced payment means that it has not cost them this amount and that there insurance company has paid for it and they are trying to get extra money.

Regards Scott
Hello and thank you for your question.

As your case is clearly one where you appear to be liable, the only real issue is whether or not their assessment of the cost of repairs is reasonable.

Unless you are a mechanic or or insurance assessor, your estimate won't be worth much as evidence should this issue be disputed before the court, so if you intend to dispute the cost I would suggest you take their estimate to a mechanic and ask them for a second opinion as to whether the proposed cost of repairs is reasonable. If you have photos of the damage, then this would also assist your mechanic to assess the appropriate cost of repairs. Although without actually inspecting the car the mechanic will not be able to comment with certainty, they likely can at least say whether it sounds reasonable.

You should also satisfy yourself that the items of work set out in the estimate in fact correspond with the damage done in the accident, and that the person claiming from you is in fact the owner of the car.

Once you have done this I would suggest you write to them indicating the advice you have had about the cost of repairs (assuming your mechanic agrees it should be less than they are asking for, and raising any concerns that the repair work appears to go beyond what was agreed and then make a counter offer to them. Whatever you offer state that the offer is made on a without prejudice basis save as to costs (i.e. without admitting liability) and that your offer is in full settlement of any claims they may have against you in relation to this accident. Some further exchanges of settlement may need to be made to resolve the matter, but I suspect you should be able to negotiate a settlement for something less than what they are presently asking.

As to the insurance issue, it is possible they are trying to handle the matter themselves to save themselves an excess and because your liability appears clear cut. However, you may well be right that they have already been reimbursed by the insurer and are simply trying to double dip, but really this isn't relevant to you, and in fact if they have already been paid that may just mean they will be more willing to compromise if you haggle with them over the final price. If you manage to settle with them before the insurer gets around to pursuing you, then they will be prevented from doing so by virtue of your having already settled the matter with the owner. So their not involving their insurer in some ways suits you.

Also be aware that if you damaged their car, in addition to the actual repair costs they can in fact sue you for any lost income caused because they were not able to rent out the car until it gets repaired. This could be a substantial sum, and no doubt if the insurer is involved, they may be more conscious of this than the owners themselves. This is another reason to try to resolve the matter without the involvement of the other car's insurer.

I trust the above assists.

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Thank you and good luck.

Patrick




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