Articles Posted in Property damage

California Wildfires Hit Taxpayers, Tourism

California Wildfires Hit Taxpayers, Tourism

California Wildfires Hit Taxpayers, Tourism. The 2018 wildfires have devastated the state of California in more ways than one. Not only did the relentless fires claim the lives of dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes, but the blazes have also affected the state’s colossal tourism industry while striking taxpayers hard.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), the state has wiped out nearly the entire emergency wildfire funds that were set aside for the fiscal year. Of the $443 million allocated, about $405 million was spent on fighting wildfires.

Falling Trees and Limbs: Car Damage

Falling Trees and Limbs
Falling Trees and Limbs: Car Damage

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento tree accident lawyer.  When Pacific storms bring wild winds and heavy rain a common result is falling trees and limbs. In this article we will be discussing what happens when a tree or limb causes damage to an automobile.

Rancho Cordova Fire Station Crash

Rancho Cordova Fire Station Crash

Rancho Cordova Fire Station Crash

I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury attorney in Rancho Cordova. Rancho Cordova firefighters were startled by the sound of a loud impact on the evening of March 1, 2016. Especially, since it happened just outside of their fire station located at 12399 Folsom Boulevard in Rancho Cordova.

Cleaning Up Rancho Cordova

Sacramento Tree Crushes Car

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Tree Injury Lawyer. A gigantic tree came crashing down on a BMW parked in the driveway of a home at Merritt Way and Clunie Drive in Sacramento. The owner of the silver luxury sedan indicated that she had recently been in the car with a small child when she forgot something in the house and ran in to get it. She said she left her child strapped into a car seat for just a few moments to retrieve and item. She commented on how quickly a situation can turn deadly. It wasn’t too long after that when a huge tree came down on her car. She, and her child, were not in the car at the time.

WATCH: Youtube Video, Wind Topples Trees in Sacramento, By our friends at KCRA3 News. Although, this is not the incident involving the silver luxury sedan written about above, it is about a luxury sedan crushed in East Sacramento by huge cedar tree in February of 2014.

car storage fees after accident
Sadly, after being the victim of a car accident, some drivers find themselves the victim of exorbitant tow truck fees and related storage yard fees.  After being involved in an accident, people are often in shock and aren’t thinking clearly.  Police and paramedics are trying to get traffic moving and inoperable cars cleared from the scene.  In their effort to get traffic moving, the  police may have called the nearest tow service to get the scene cleaned up and to move your car.  The officer is well meaning and doing his job.

Next thing you know, a tow truck has arrived.  You may even be breathing a sigh of relief when the tow truck arrives as the state of shock may have made you feel as if you didn’t know what to do. Next thing you know you have signed some documents and the tow truck operator has told us that ‘He’ll take care of everything.’  We go home, open a claim with the at fault insurance carrier and it’s not until two weeks after the accident do we get a bill for $700 in storage fees and $300 for the towing service.  What!!??

Things you need to know about tow trucks and auto accidents.  First off, you need to know that just because the police have called the tow truck operator to the scene does not mean they are an honest service, the most reasonable or that they are operating out of the goodness of their heart.  Tow truck drivers and storage yards are in the business of making money.  How do they make money?  The longer your vehicle is in the tow yard, the more money they make.  So, don’t allow yourself to by lulled into a feeling of security  or trick yourself into believing that everything’s taken care of just because they towed your car. You need to understand you have just entered a business transaction with them.  You also need to understand that the owner of the vehicle, not the insurance company, is responsible for the final bill.  The law has ruled that by your signing a document allowing a tow truck operator to take your vehicle YOU have entered a consensual contract with them.  Your insurance company nor your attorney entered into the contract with them.   Unfortunately,  as such, YOU  have a legal duty to mitigate your damages (costs incurred) involving tow truck fees and the tow storage fee.  While this can be tough to hear, the law states YOU are responsible for the bill as YOU consented to the tow.

In a previous blog we discussed California law regarding permissive users.  As already explained, a permissive user is someone not listed on an insurance policy but is a person that we gave car accidentpermission to use our vehicle.  This is a person who does not live with us and does not use the vehicle frequently. Additionally, for permissive drivers to be covered, the insurance policy must not contain an exclusion prohibiting all ‘permissive users.’  Consumers should clearly understand not only who is considered a permissive user but who is NOT considered a permissive user so that they do not have problems with their insurance carrier.

It is also important to remember that insurance follows the owner of the car and not the driver of the car in California so good judgement needs to be used when loaning out your car.

Many consumers may have heard something about California law and permissive users and may get it into their head that their car is automatically covered irregardless of who drives the car simply because they purchased an auto insurance policy. This is incorrect.  Consumers need to educate themselves as to who will not be afforded coverage by their insurance carrier.  We can claim to our insurance company that the person was a ‘permissive user’ but they need to fit the test.

car accidentIt is understandable that after a car accident, we want the responsible insurance company to fix our car immediately so we can get back to our regular routine.  But from time to time it happens.  The responsible insurance company seems to be doing nothing. When we call them and ask what is going on, they state they are dealing with ‘coverage issues.’  It can be frustrating. What does that even mean? Coverage issues?

We have found that in many of these circumstances, the issue involved is, was the person who drove the car a permissive user or not?  The insurance company is saying to us in so many words, ‘the person who hit you was not listed on the insurance policy maintained on the car.’

Who is a permissive user and what does that have to do with insurance coverage?  Just because a car hit you and caused damage to your car does not automatically mean that the insurance the vehicle owner has on the car will automatically cover damages to your car in the event of an accident.  For the insurance coverage to kick in and pay for our property damage, the driver of the vehicle that hit you should be specifically listed on the auto insurance policy as either the policy holder, a household member listed by the company on the policy, or another listed driver on the policy who may not be a relative. Notwithstanding, the next category of people that affords coverage to you is if the driver of the car who hit you  falls under the term of a ‘permissive user.’  A permissive user is someone that is not listed on the  insurance policy but that the policyholder gave either direct permission or tacit permission to drive the car that hit you.  Additionally, questions will be asked to confirm that the use of the vehicle by the driver was occasional.

fender benderAnytime you are hurt,  you should report an accident to your insurance and make a police report.

But what if no-one is hurt, the accident is your fault, and the property damage is relatively minor?

Should you report it to your insurance company and let them take care of it or should you pay the other driver yourself to avoid an insurance rate raise? Not an easy question, but here are some guidelines.