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JPEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 5106
Experience:  Experience as general attorney, in house counsel, SSDI, Family Law attorney, and law professor
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I was the owner of a 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe. The car was in

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I was the owner of a 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe. The car was in great condition, with only 108,000 miles (I drive approximately 10,000 miles per year). I replaced the air conditioning system in the car on May 16th at a cost of $1,567.

I work in a high security building with bollards at the entrance. I was leaving the premises to go to lunch at noon on Friday, June 15th. The bollards malfunctioned and came up out of the ground even though I had a green light to proceed. My car was totaled. My company has the incident on tape and agrees that it was a malfunction of the bollard system.

My company had me go through my own insurance company for reimbursement. My insurance company paid me ~$5,000 -- the book value of my car. My company is refusing to pay me any money toward replacing my vehicle (the $5000 from my insurance company will not buy me a car of comparable trustworthiness/safety), and they are also refusing to reimburse me for the $1,567 I spent one month prior for the air conditioning system for my car.

Do I have legal grounds for taking my company to small claims court for reimbursement?

Thank you.

Linda Hurley

Unfortunately, when a car is totaled, the party that is at fault is only at fault for the value of the vehicle and any other damages like personal injury and medical bills. They can't be held responsible for the money you spent on repairs. Likewise, they can't be held responsible because you can't find an equivalent car at the replacement cost. The book value indicates that your car is as reliable and trustworthy as any other $5000 car. While your vehicle may have been especially well taken care of... the book value is all a court has to determine the value of a vehicle.

That said, the company is at fault and they or their insurance company should pay, not yours. You will have to bear increased cost to your insurance as a result and you have less room for argument about the true book value (there is more than one book, with more than one value).

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