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Brent Adams & Associates

Q
Can I make the insurance company paint my entire car?

A

car paint claimIt depends.

In North Carolina the measure of damages for a motor vehicle that has been involved in a wreck is the difference between the value of that motor vehicle immediately before the collision and its value immediately after the collision. That is, the value of the vehicle sitting in the middle of the road just after the collision and before any repairs.

Assuming that the vehicle is not a total loss and assuming that it is economically feasible to repair the vehicle the cost of repair, including the cost of painting figures in the equation when a decision is made concerning the value of the vehicle immediately before the collision and its value immediately after the collision.

If a vehicle can economically be repaired then you are entitled to a full and complete repair of the vehicle. This includes the cost of painting. If only one part of the car is damaged and therefore needs repainting, a question often arises as to whether it is necessary to paint the entire car.

The common-sense answer to this question is yes, the entire car should be painted if the new paint job does not match the existing paint. If the two paints do not match, obviously the repair is not complete. Few people, almost no one, would be satisfied with a two-toned paint job. Therefore, the entire car must be repainted, both the damaged part and the part which was undamaged but which has paint that does not match the new paint applied to the repaired portion of the car.

The cost of repair however is not the entire undamaged part loss suffered by the victim of someone else's negligence.

Remember, the measure of damage is the difference between the value before the collision and the value after the collision. Repair bills are only part of the equation. Once a car is repaired properly, an adjustment must be made for the fact that the car has now been in a wreck and is therefore a damaged and repaired vehicle. The public will not pay the same dollar for a car that has been wrecked as it will for a car that has never been wrecked. This is true even if the wrecked car was repaired perfectly and contains no visible evidence of the fact that it has been wrecked. (Beware of faulty car repairs.) Because of this well-known fact, the insurance company must include an amount for what is commonly called "depreciation." That is, how much has the car depreciated in value because of the fact that it has been wrecked.

As in many areas of the law, reasonable minds can differ as to the number necessary to satisfy the before/after evaluation.

If the parties cannot agree, ultimately, and if the case winds up in court, the finder of the fact, either a jury or a judge, will decide the proper amount necessary to reimburse the owner of the damaged vehicle for the difference between the value before the collision and the value after the collision.