If you don't have a copy of whatever documentation/agreement covers
your use of the rental/loaner car -- ask the dealer for another copy of
it and review the terms of the agreement. The document should
clearly indicate what remedies are available to the dealer when a
customer fails to return a rental/motor vehicle.
If you cannot obtain the document to review, or do not understand its
provisions, or if you do not agree with the provisions -- I suggest you
contact the New York State Attorney General's Office
Affairs Division and ask them to clarify with the dealer's rights --
and what (if any) obligations fall to you in this unfortunate situation.
While it is obvious that the dealer has a legitimate economic loss
connected with loss of use of the rental/loaner car -- is less clear
whether depriving you of the use of your car is an appropriate (or even
Assuming that the dealer does have the right to retain your vehicle in
this situation -- you have every right to attempt to negotiate.
You may want to offer to pay part of the cost of a replacement
it seems to me that you should take the position that your insurance
company is obligated to 'make good' your loss in this situation -- by
paying your car payment -- or at least providing a rental/motor
vehicle to you until such time as your vehicle is released by the
Keep in mind that -- assuming the killer is convicted -- you and/or
your insurance company can bring a civil case against this criminal to
recoup the dollar losses involved. The immediate family of your
deceased nephew can also bring a civil case for Wrongful Death.
At some point, you may want to retain an attorney at least to write
letters to the dealership and/or your insurance company with the
purpose of getting them to move off of their stalemate positions.
My bottom-line recommendation is that you:
Review the rental/loan or car documentation.
If necessary, contact the Attorney General's office.
Review your car insurance and homeowner insurance policies to see what
if any obligation your insurance company has to make up your loss -- or
at least provide substitute transportation (or its cash equivalent) --
in this situation.
Assuming that the dealer is acting within their legal rights -- attempt to negotiate with them as noted above.
If necessary, retain an attorney to write some 'power letters' to your insurance company and/or the dealership.
Keep in mind the future option of bringing a civil case against your nephew's killer.
Let me know if you need more input. If not, thanks for the
opportunity to assist you... I would really appreciate your honoring my
efforts by 'pushing the button' and Accepting this answer. Adding
a bonus -- should you wish to do so -- is always warmly welcomed.