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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 118718
Experience:  Licensed Attorney. Over 20 years experience in personal injury and law enforcement.
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My 'parked' leased car was t by a drunk driver and will most

Customer Question

My 'parked' leased car was hit by a drunk driver and will most likely be totaled by my insurance company. My lease agreement does not appear to show any GAP coverage. If the insurance payment does not cover the total amount owed to the finance company, it appears as though I will be responsible for paying the difference. What are my options ?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
If you did not take out a GAP policy, then anything the insurance does not pay for damages, you are liable for and you can sue the driver of the vehicle for personally to recover the money you have to pay out that was not covered by insurance. You can also negotiate with the insurer based on the book value of the car, because the adjusters typically want to give a low price and you can use the blue book or NADA book to negotiate a higher payment.
Unfortunately, when these accidents occur, these are the limited legal options you have to be made whole for your loss.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I'm trying to figure out how they would typically get their number and here's what I'm thinking.....The 3 year lease expires next July and to buy the car at that time, they want 14,458.00.
So we owe 11 months on the lease. (196.00 x 11 = 2,156.00).My thinking is that adding those together would tell me the car's worth today.
So the first question is, does that sound reasonable?If that's the case, the math would be :
14,458 + 2,156 = 16,614.00.In researching 2013 Camry LE's with comparable mileage at the Toyota site, I'm seeing five cars with an average price, when considering all of them, of 17,541.00.
We had Alloy wheels AND a Moonroof on ours but only ONE of these cars has a Moonroof and that was the most expensive at 18,599.00.So now,,,how does that work? Will the insurance company go with the value of the car based on things like Toyota's site? or will THEY research via the Blue Book?,,,
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply.
They will use the actual book value worth of the car at the time of the accident, not really the lease value itself. So if the book value in NADA or Blue Book is more than they are offering, you can argue with them to offer the book value based on vehicle condition and extras on the car and provide them the examples of other vehicles you found in similar condition to support your claims.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The question, restated, is what do they use in calculating their number ? How do they get their number?
When u say, they will use the 'actual book value', where does that come from? Especially since u say that this might be less than the 'blue book' value. (which would imply it is coming from a source that is NOT the blue book)
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply.
They use the book value, from either NADA or blue book depending on the insurance company (different insurance companies use different books, but they are close in pricing). They are going to try to offer the lowest value in the book and not the higher value listed in the books.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
how can that be right when the current KBB value of this car is 13,261.00 and that's not even what they're saying i'd be paying next July to buy it outright (14,458.00)? Why would I ever choose to buy it then ?But aside from that question, how is it determined what I currently would have to pay out of pocket? There's no principal ba***** *****ke if you were buying it. I'm on the hook for another 11 months of lease payments,,,so I would assume whatever is offered would need to cover that,,,,but what number would we have to beat to break even ?,,,,,,wouldn't it be what the leasing company is saying the buyout would be (14,458.00) plus what I still owe on the lease (2,156.00) ?? which is the 16,614.00 I mentioned earlier ? The insurance company would then offer the silly, totally illogical, 13,261.00 number which would leave us to haggle over the remainder of 3,353.00 for us to break even??......
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply.
It may not be morally right to you, but the law allows them to use the book value estimates so that is what they can do by law. The time remaining on the lease is an "out of pocket expense" and as I said that has to be recovered by suing the driver if you choose or else you are liable for that. This is exactly why they have GAP insurance, which is designed to cover that amount not covered by the insurer who pays only book value. Many people involved in these accidents do not break even, that is a legal fact I am afraid, since the law says the insurer only has to pay the book value, not the balance of the loan and that is why GAP insurance was created to pay that difference.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
let's say the Insurance comes back and covers all of the Lease and we don't have to put anything out of pocket......we'll still need a down payment for another vehicle.....can we sue for that down payment?....the premise being, I would never be in this situation in the first place if the guy hadn't hit my car.....
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your reply.

I am afraid that is also called an "out of pocket expense" and everyone in an accident has the same problem. The insurance and driver is liable for actual damages. The fact you need a down payment for a new car is not an actual damage. I understand you are saying you would not be in the situation had he not hit your car, but legally that is not a normal expense. NOW, that being said, you CAN SUE for "punitive damages" because he was drunk and punitive damages are punishment for violating the law. It is through suing him for punitive damages you can seek to obtain your down payment for your new car when you ordinarily would not be able to do so.