Insurance Dispute Lawyers
What do we do at State Lawyers?
We are Insurance dispute lawyers that help recover money on behalf of the not at fault owner of a motor vehicle who has suffered loss. We recover this money from the individual who negligently caused the loss, or their insurer.
Your Questions Answered
On this page you will find answers to frequently asked questions. We have tried to provide a detailed explanation of Motor Vehicle Accident related information for the purposes of education only. This should not be be relied upon for the purposes of legal advice. We strongly suggest that you speak to one of our Lawyers to discuss your rights.
We also protect the rights of the at fault owner of a motor vehicle involved in an accident against their Insurer. This is known as a direct claim.
We understand that being in an accident can be a highly stressful experience and most drivers are unaware of what information they should ask the driver of the other vehicle. It’s all to easy to drive away from the scene of a motor vehicle collision without the information you need to pursue your rights and recover the loss you have suffered.
After you have been in an accident, always pull over and exchange details from the other driver.
Some questions you may want to ask, or the information you will want to write down include:
- May I take a picture of your driver’s licence? If the other party does not wish you to take a picture, be sure to ask for their licence and write down their address and licence number.
- The registration of the vehicle
- Are you the registered owner of this vehicle or were you just driving it?
- The date of the accident
- Are you insured? What company are you insured with?
- Can we talk about what happened? Do you agree with mt version of events?
- Can I please get a contact phone number? It may be wise to call the phone number whilst you are with the other driver to ensure the number given is correct.
- Take pictures of the damage sustained to your vehicle as the result of the collision
- Take names/numbers of any witnesses who can confirm your version of events
An certified automobile assessor or a repairer will deem a vehicle a total loss, or in other words write a vehicle off, when the cost to repair the vehicle is estimated to exceed the market value of the car. This mostly occurs with older vehicles, however is also a likely outcome when an accident is serious or damages more expensive parts of a car.
As a customer, you may consent to have your vehicle repaired instead of it being deemed a total loss, however in doing so you will only be able to recover from the at fault party the market value of the vehicle. This means you will be personally out of pocket for any costs incurred which are beyond what you vehicle is worth.
It’s fairly standard practice for insurance companies to negotiate the amount they pay to third party claimants. When dealing with insurance companies, you must remember you do have the right to provide them with a counter offer.
To achieve the best result when this occurs, please contact one of our highly experienced staff. Their knowledge and expertise is invaluable in negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf and giving you the peace of mind that you will obtain the best result possible.
In most cases, confirming liability means contacting the third party Insurer and having a brief discussion regarding whether their client has accepted that they were at fault for the accident. To do this, you simply call the insurer, quote the claim number, confirm each party’s details and the date of the accident and ask if liability is confirmed.
Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for third parties to confirm liability at the accident scene, and then become adamant with their insurer they were not at fault. If this is the case, ask the insurer to provide you with their client’s version and diagram.
You must then compile evidence which you can present to the Insurer which validates your version of events. For more information, please see the ‘liability disputes’ tab listed below.
If liability is in dispute for your accident, we recommend you consult our highly experienced staff for general advice as to how to proceed with your matter.
A letter of demand is a formal document sent to the at fault or negligent party requesting they either compensate the innocent party for loss suffered or provide details of their Insurer. In the circumstance where an at fault party does provide insurance details a further letter of demand is sent to that Insurance Company. In most cases, a letter of demand is sent prior to the filing of a statement of claim.
A letter of demand must include appropriate proof of loss (“POL”) documentation- that all documentation which proves you have incurred loss and have done so reasonably.
As mentioned, Proof of Loss (POL) refers to the documentation that is enclosed with a letter of demand to prove the loss.
The specific type of proof of loss will depend on the specific type of claim. For example, when recovering the cost of repairs from an at fault or their insurer will will typically enclose an assessment report, a repair quote estimate, photographs of the damage to the vehicle before and after repairs and a repair tax invoice. For a rental claim, we will enclose a signed rental agreement, a rental tax invoice and comparable rates of hire from alternate car hire companies.
For further detail as to what POL you may require for your claim, please contact our office.
It is not a problem if you know who the at fault driver responsible for your accident is insured with but do not have a claim number. To find out the claim number, simply call the Insurer and quote all party details and the date of accident and the Insurer should be able to provide you with the claim number.
It does become a problem however, when an at fault party is insured, but they have not lodged a claim or are still paying off their excess. No insurer will agree to indemnify their client unless a claim has been lodged and all policy obligations have been met. If this occurs, you may need to file a statement of claim against the at fault directly.
Our staff are experienced in handling the following claims:
- Written Off/ Total Loss Vehicles
- Repair/ Rental Claims
- Direct Claims
- Liability Disputes
- Diminished value
The liability checklist is a series of evidentiary steps that must be taken once liability is in dispute.
The liability checklist includes:
- Request images of our vehicles
- Request images of third party vehicle
- Google Earth and Street view
- Version and diagram from our client
- Version and diagram from at fault
- Witness and passenger details
- Police event number
- Has anyone been charged?
- Can we obtain a draft statement from our driver?
- Images from accident scene
- Make sure the damage pattern is consistent with our version
There are potentially three elements to a rental dispute.
- Duration: The car should have not taken that long to repair and therefore the rental should not have occurred for a period that long.
- Rate: The rate of the hired vehicle is unreasonable and does not compare.
- Betterment: The vehicle hired is not comparable to the vehicle they owned. For instance, if you own a Toyota Corolla and hire a Maserati, that’s clearly incomparable.
There are a number of websites that you can review to show the market rate/daily rate of a rental vehicle.
- http://www.rentadreamcar.com.au/drive/ (lambo, ferrari)
A rent-a-bomb rate is applied when the vehicle the not at fault party either owned or hired is over ten years old. It is important to bear in mind that Rent-a-bomb rates do take into account the type of vehicle the not at fault owned, for example if a individual owns a 10 year old Mercedes that still possesses a market value of $30,000 that individual might be entitled to a higher rate as it has the value of a new corolla.
The rental rate is reduced based on age and type of vehicle.
For example, if a car is worth only $3,000 the courts have found that the rate of hire should be proportionate being approximately between $50- $95. We obviously press for a higher amount.
For example if you have a 10 year old Mercedes which is still worth $30,000 you might be entitled to a higher rate as this is similar to the price of a new corolla.
This means that on top of the base rate charged for the rental vehicle, all parties that have suffered loss as a result of a motor vehicle collision where they were not at fault they are entitled to claim excess reduction in addition.
- Hourly Rate: The insurer most likely assumes that the hourly rate is unreasonable. We have evidence that they pay their own repairers between $73-93 per hour. The repairers that do credit repair charge $100- $145 depending on the prestige of the vehicle. The single expert will give a market rate because this is not an ongoing relationship.
- Assessment Fee: The amount charged by the independent assessor for an assessment report, should be charged at a lower cost. At the moment the court awards only 100 per report but due to the persistence and tenacity of Zubin Hiramanek and Daniel Nerezov, but mainly Zubin Hiramanek the court has reconsidered its position and will be increasing the amount to $350.00. This is again another milestone achievement of State Lawyers and their commitment to fighting large multi-billion-dollar insurance companies.
- Not related damages: Parts of the car that has been repaired do not relate to the damages caused in the accident or previous accident. We must speak to the Driver to confirm there was no prior damage.
- Liability: Dispute in relation to how the accident occurred.
- Work not reasonably carried out
- Method dispute: Dispute in relation to the method the repairs were carried out. This is commonly known as the insurer wanted to repair the car in a cheap way or “repair methodology”. See painting on the wall example.
When a vehicle is deemed to be a total loss the three main issues in dispute will be
- Pre-accident value: To determine the market value of the vehicle prior to the accident it is helpful to perform an autoedge evaluation. The assessor will provide a glasses guide valuation and make adjustments for Kilometres, for lower km that the market average the value of the car is higher
- Type of vehicle – VIN number matching
- Salvage Value
When sending a counter offer for repairs, obtain instructions from the client.
When sending a counter offer for rental, assess what the claim is worth by looking at the following:
- Vehicle the client owned;
- Vehicle the client hired;
- Comparable rates for the vehicle the client owned;
- Comparable rates for the vehicle the client hired;
- Duration of the hire and explanation for that duration;
- Obtain instructions from the client.
How do conduct a valuation for a vehicle:
- Go to http://www.autoedgenet.com.au/login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2f.
- Enter usercode and password.
- Check the vehicle details on the assessment report.
- Enter details for the following boxes:
- Search in – It is normally “Passenger & Light Commercial Vehicles”.
- Year Range
- Click on “Proceed”.
- Click on the correct vehicle description.
- Save the page into the Dropbox.
- See historic valuation by clicking on “Pricing History”.
When drafting a Statement of Claim it is important to tailor the particulars of your statement to the loss you have suffered.
At State Lawyers we have a team of experienced professionals who are willing to give you advice on how to draft your own statement of claim, or in the alternative, draft one on your behalf.
As a matter of policy, State Lawyers will generally file a Statement of Claim after 30 days of no response from an at fault party or their insurer.
Before you file a Statement of Claim you must check that all claims are included on that Statement of Claim. In other words, if you are filing for a repair claim you must also include any associated rental claims within your Statement of Claim.
If you fail to include an element of loss on your Statement of Claim and the matter is finalised you will be legally precluded from recovering any further loss.
When a Statement of Claim is served on an at fault party or their insurer, the at fault party must provide a defence to the allegations within 28 days of service.
Should an at fault party or their insurer (now known as the defendant) fail to do so, you are entitled to apply for default judgement. This means that the defendant will be liable for the full amount as outlined on the Statement of Claim.
A Garnishee order is a court order which requires an employer to withhold part of the wages owed to a particular employee (the debtor) and pay the amount instead to the plaintiff in satisfaction of a debt which is due. A Garnishee order can also be used against banks, where the amount owed by a defendant is removed from the defendants bank account.
Garnishee orders are only available once there has been a successful filing of default judgement.
If your matter progresses to hearing and is sufficiently complex you may need to instruct a Barrister to represent your interests. Barristers are highly trained litigants who assist solicitors in representing clients in court and achieving the best possible outcomes.
If your claim is for less than $10,000.00 it will be heard in the Small Claims Division of the Local Court. If your matter is listed in the Small Claims Division and you are represented by State Lawyers it is unlikely you will be required to attend court.
However, if your matter is for more than $10,000.00 it will be listed in the General Division of the Local Court. If your matter is listed in the General Division and you are represented by State Lawyers you may be required to attend court on one occasion.