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Old 03-30-2007, 06:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Car accident and unreasonable damages: anything I can do.

Last month, I lost control of by car due to the tread seperating from one of my tires, and I came to rest in a ditch against a chain link fence owned by a city. Two of the steel polls were damaged. Today, I found that they had billed my insurance company $845 - about $100 over the 'point on your record' line. I asked for a discription of what was on the bill from my claims guy, and he said that most of it was the 10 man hours at $63 an hour - I assume that means two guys took 5 hours to fix it. Am I the only one that thinks that is insane? Is there anything I can do to contest the dollar amount of damage done? This is in California.
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Old 03-30-2007, 08:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Are they paying the workers $63 an hour? I highly doubt it - or at least, if they are, I think I'm going to become a city maintenance guy in California. I'd challenge that myself.

Also, why did the tread separate - - was it because you drove on worn out tires, or was it a new tire that had a defect. If there was a defect, then the tire company should pay, not you.
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Old 03-30-2007, 08:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The tires were old, but not at all bare, and I had had my car in for an oil change a few months earlier, and they didn't say anything to me about the tires. The service center also sells tires, so they usualy look at them. The tow truck guy who pulled my car out of the ditch said it looked like the tires might have been re tread, but both the tire stores that looked at them said they were just old (a bit over 5 years).

As to the rates.... Yeah, WTF? It's not my fault that some asshole contractors are charging as much as they can get away with. I just don't know what to do to contest it. It'll probably result in me paying an extra $300 to $500 in insurance over the next three years if I do get the point on my license.
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Old 03-30-2007, 09:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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5 year old tires? Nope, this one's entirely your fault I'm afraid. That's WAY too old.

But I would investigate their claim that they pay that much to their work crews.
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Old 03-30-2007, 11:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Semi off topic: It's not $63 an hour wage per employee (or two employees at 31.75). In fact, outside of what the employees make regularly per hour if they are city employees and not independent contractors, they will never actually see or receive any of the money that you have been fined.

The $63 rate would probably be split out to include the costs of random repairs (equipment), inventory costs, costs of sending out guys to repair stuff when they could be doing something else, and stuff along those lines.

When I go out on site for my company to do repairs and upgrades, its $135 an hour drive time, and $135 an hour on site while working. All that gets fed back into the company to pay whatever, and I never see a dime outside of my hourly rate.
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Old 03-31-2007, 05:14 AM   #6 (permalink)
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$63.00 an hour for labor is not an unreasonable amount, at all. As a matter of fact you're getting off cheap. To give you an idea of where I'm coming from, I work for a commercial cabinet shop in Southern Oregon. The majority of our work is in Northern California, specifically the Bay area. The labor rate for our installation subcontractors is $79.00/man/hour, this covers tools. Go ask the shop that repaired your car what their labor rate is, I'd bet it's in the $65.00 to $80.00/hour range.
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Old 03-31-2007, 05:16 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meanSpleen
Semi off topic: It's not $63 an hour wage per employee (or two employees at 31.75). In fact, outside of what the employees make regularly per hour if they are city employees and not independent contractors, they will never actually see or receive any of the money that you have been fined.

The $63 rate would probably be split out to include the costs of random repairs (equipment), inventory costs, costs of sending out guys to repair stuff when they could be doing something else, and stuff along those lines.
That's fine, but he's only liable for actual damages. It'd sure be nice if the next time someone sideswipes my car I could charge them drive time to the body shop, wait time at the body shop, "random repairs" (hey maybe my alternator wore out more because I had to drive it extra to the body shop. There's another $80!), etc etc in addition to the actual body repair, but I can't. If I can't, the government can't.
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Old 03-31-2007, 07:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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There are multiple issues here:

To directly answer the question - it's not really your job to negotiate with the City on their repair charges. It's your insurance company's job. If they feel the amount is unreasonable, they're the ones that will do the negotiation. After all, it's their money being spent, not yours. As for the actual amount itself, I think it's entirely reasonable considering we're talking about union employees employed by a municipality. You should be happy it's not more.

Next, the folks that change your oil aren't really the ones you want checking your tires for wear. That's your job or the job of someone who deals in tires. I know that some tire shops also do oil changes, so maybe that's what's going on here, but unless they gave you a piece of paper saying that the tires were fine, they're not on the hook at all.

There's a big difference between retread tires and new tires, and if you had them installed on the car yourself, you should have been told the difference. Retreads are made by taking older tires with sidewalls that are in excellent condition and then basically glueing new treads onto them. If you keep them inflated properly, there usually isn't any noticable performance difference, but if they are underinflated, they can blowout. By the way, new tires should never have the treads separate since they're usually cast as a single unit. There's no way for the tread to separate from the tire leaving an intact rubber surface beneath the separated tread.

And Shakran, the driver is liable for the travel time to the site for the repairs when it comes to physical damage. If, for instance, he'd hit a house, the insurance company would pay for the transit time for the construction crews to get to and from the job site since it's all a part of the scope of work. If the employee is on the clock on the way to the site, he's liable. The fact that the claimant is a governmental entity is irrelevant.

Finally, the $63 billing include the salary, workers compensation, benefits, etc. When I was a contractor, we billed our guys out at $75/hour, but they only made $40/hour. We made $15/hour profit, and the additional $20/hour came from WC (the lion's share), 401k, medical insurance, etc.
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Old 03-31-2007, 07:22 AM   #9 (permalink)
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wow... when i hit a tree in Singapore on Stevens Road after I lost control of the car from a patch of water on a trun. I had to pay a fee of S$250 for damage to the tree. Had it been a sapling, it would have been S$1,000.

"The next time you about to hit tree swerve." was the suggestion of the person collecting my fee.
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Old 03-31-2007, 10:09 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Jazz
There are multiple issues here:

To directly answer the question - it's not really your job to negotiate with the City on their repair charges. It's your insurance company's job. If they feel the amount is unreasonable, they're the ones that will do the negotiation. After all, it's their money being spent, not yours. As for the actual amount itself, I think it's entirely reasonable considering we're talking about union employees employed by a municipality. You should be happy it's not more.
The main issue I have here is that the amount billed is enough to put a point on my license. I really am quite sure that it would have been possible to get it fixed by licensed contractors for under $750.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Jazz
Next, the folks that change your oil aren't really the ones you want checking your tires for wear. That's your job or the job of someone who deals in tires. I know that some tire shops also do oil changes, so maybe that's what's going on here, but unless they gave you a piece of paper saying that the tires were fine, they're not on the hook at all.
It's a tire store as well, yes. I think I said that already. I don't think they're libal in anyway, either, just to make sure that's clear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Jazz
There's a big difference between retread tires and new tires, and if you had them installed on the car yourself, you should have been told the difference. Retreads are made by taking older tires with sidewalls that are in excellent condition and then basically glueing new treads onto them. If you keep them inflated properly, there usually isn't any noticable performance difference, but if they are underinflated, they can blowout. By the way, new tires should never have the treads separate since they're usually cast as a single unit. There's no way for the tread to separate from the tire leaving an intact rubber surface beneath the separated tread.
Retreads are illegal in California. The tires came with the car (A used 90 Accord)

Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Jazz
And Shakran, the driver is liable for the travel time to the site for the repairs when it comes to physical damage. If, for instance, he'd hit a house, the insurance company would pay for the transit time for the construction crews to get to and from the job site since it's all a part of the scope of work. If the employee is on the clock on the way to the site, he's liable. The fact that the claimant is a governmental entity is irrelevant.

Finally, the $63 billing include the salary, workers compensation, benefits, etc. When I was a contractor, we billed our guys out at $75/hour, but they only made $40/hour. We made $15/hour profit, and the additional $20/hour came from WC (the lion's share), 401k, medical insurance, etc.
I actualy don't really care that it's a city. Again, what I care about is the point on my license, and resulting increased insurance rates. I just think that it could have been done for less if someone were motivated to get it done for less. My own inexperiance probably hurt me here, I should have called my insurance company right away (the cop that came out told me to wait until I got a bill), and come back out there later to document the damage. If I'd done that, then my insurance company might have gotten someone to do it cheaper. Suck. I suppose I know for next time :/

I'm still wondering if I'm totaly screwed. I'm going to talk with my insurance company again on Monday to see if there's any shit they can raise over it, but I don't really have my hopes up.
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Old 03-31-2007, 11:17 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I'm still not sure I understand why the cost of the damage would effect the amount of points on your liscense..?
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Old 03-31-2007, 03:15 PM   #12 (permalink)
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How do you receive points with no ticket? Also, the insurance company isn't going to fight the city over $100, they'll just let you foot the bill with higher premiums. Five year old ties are getting a little old at that point and if you had a flat, theoretically, you should have been able to control your vehicle.

Bottom line: I think you're just stuck with higher rates for three years. Insurance companies look for any excuse to raise your rates!!
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Old 03-31-2007, 03:30 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yotta
I actualy don't really care that it's a city. Again, what I care about is the point on my license, and resulting increased insurance rates. I just think that it could have been done for less if someone were motivated to get it done for less. My own inexperiance probably hurt me here, I should have called my insurance company right away (the cop that came out told me to wait until I got a bill), and come back out there later to document the damage. If I'd done that, then my insurance company might have gotten someone to do it cheaper. Suck. I suppose I know for next time :/

I'm still wondering if I'm totaly screwed. I'm going to talk with my insurance company again on Monday to see if there's any shit they can raise over it, but I don't really have my hopes up.
You may not care, but it actually matters. The city, as the owner of the property, has the right to do the repairs themselves and charge back your insurance company for the cost. As far as getting someone else to do it, it's the city's property and their damage. They have a contract with the union (most likely) to do the repairs. Even if they contracted it out to someone, that's still their perogative. Sorry, but you don't get any say in the matter. Ever.

Some states (including California) give points on your license if you cause damage above a certain amount. That's what's going on here.

If the insurance company is paying the claim, you're not screwed. You're only screwed if they're not. If that's the case, then we have to have a much different conversation, and I doubt you'll like what I'm going to tell you.
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Old 03-31-2007, 09:58 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by JinnKai
I'm still not sure I understand why the cost of the damage would effect the amount of points on your liscense..?
In California, if the damage is over $750, then it has to been reported to the DMV. It is 1 point per at fault accident that is reported to the DMV. If the damage was less than $750, then it would not have been reported to the DMV so long as no one was injured.
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Old 03-31-2007, 10:33 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goddfather40
In California, if the damage is over $750, then it has to been reported to the DMV. It is 1 point per at fault accident that is reported to the DMV. If the damage was less than $750, then it would not have been reported to the DMV so long as no one was injured.
hmmmm that seems odd to me since a 5mph crash can exceed $750 quite easily. (trying to find a more current crash test rating)

Quote:
New Bumper Crash Test Results
MAZDA6 GETS ACCEPTABLE RATING, 3 OUT OF 6 GET POOR RATING

Even in the rear-into-flat-barrier test, which isn't as demanding as the pole test, the G35 sustained more than $1,800 damage. In this test, the bumper cover split and both rear fenders buckled.

The Saab 9-3 was redesigned for 2003, but its bumpers didn't fare well in the Institute tests. One problem showed up in the front-into-angle-barrier test -- fixing the damage required removing the air conditioner condenser and the radiator just to replace the bumper bar. On average, the 9-3's bumpers allowed about $160 more damage per test than its 1999 predecessor.

One large luxury car: The Institute tested the new Mercedes E class, which was the second worst performer in this round of tests. Average damage per test was $1,300, and damage in the simplest front-into-flat-barrier test alone totaled almost $700.

"The front bumper on the E class is designed more for style than substance," Lund says. "In fact, the front bumper reinforcement bar is actually positioned rearward of the leading edges of the headlamps. This is a terrible design considering that headlamps are safety equipment that should be undamaged in such low-speed crashes."

There was almost $3,000 damage to the E class in the rear-into-pole test because the bumper failed to protect the car's expensive-to-fix fenders and trunk lid.

Two minivans: The Nissan Quest is an all-new design for 2004, "but Nissan engineers are going in the wrong direction in bumper design," Lund says. "The previous generation Quest did a good job resisting damage in a minor fender-bender. But buyers of the new model could get hit with big repair bills because its bumpers don't bump."

Damage to the new Quest was more than three times higher than the previous generation model. Repairs to the 2004 model topped $1,000 in three of the four tests.

The Sienna fared somewhat better, but its highest damage total was in one of the flat-barrier tests, which should allow the least damage. In the rear-into-flat-barrier impact, the damage was $1,000 more for the new Sienna than for the 1998 model.
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Old 04-01-2007, 01:38 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
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hmmmm that seems odd to me since a 5mph crash can exceed $750 quite easily. (trying to find a more current crash test rating)
This is correct. Over $750 is a point on your license even if you don't get a ticket. Scraping someones car in a parking lot can get you a point on your license in California.

I'm just wondering if there's anything I can do about it at this point. Sounds like there isn't, so I just guess that I'll have to let it be. My insurance is paying for it. Also, yes, I'm sure if I knew exactly what I was doing I could have stopped in my lane, but it was a two lane highway with no divider, so I really did not want to risk a head on collision with anybody. I have since been told that any breaking when you have a tire problem is a bad idea. I don't think I locked my breaks, but I'm sure having no tread on a tire causes odd traction issues.
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Old 04-01-2007, 07:39 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Cynthetiq - the damage to your car is irrelevant. It's the damage to whatever you hit that counts. The state doesn't care if you smash your car against a rock, so long as you don't cause any damage to the rock.
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Old 04-01-2007, 08:59 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Jazz
Cynthetiq - the damage to your car is irrelevant. It's the damage to whatever you hit that counts. The state doesn't care if you smash your car against a rock, so long as you don't cause any damage to the rock.
actually it is relevant from my point of view since I'm looking at it from the fact that if I hit someone at 5mph and the damage to the opposing vehicle could be >$750 quite easily. Therefore, even a small grocery parking lot bump could result in a point against your license.
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Old 04-01-2007, 11:00 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynthetiq
actually it is relevant from my point of view since I'm looking at it from the fact that if I hit someone at 5mph and the damage to the opposing vehicle could be >$750 quite easily. Therefore, even a small grocery parking lot bump could result in a point against your license.
Well, maybe. I don't know if New Jersey counts damage above a certain amount against your license. Honestly, it's not a particularly popular thing to do among the states for the reason that a very minor accident involving a brand new BMW can result in more monetary damage than a fatality involving a 1975 Pinto. It's not necessarily a good judge of the severity, which is the theory behind it.

Sounds like you've got the basic principle but remember that it only matters in whatever state you're licened in.
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Old 04-01-2007, 11:09 AM   #20 (permalink)
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NJ and NY are both no fault states, never really understood the definition, but the few accidents I have had never resulted in any points against my license even the time it was my fault even when the damage was over $750.
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