We are noticing a recent trend with our Oregon personal injury clients who are also dealing with a property damage claim. In the past, the responsible insurance company would authorize a rental car for our client until their car was repaired or replaced. This is because Oregon Law allows compensation for the"loss of use" of a vehicle that has been damaged or destroyed in a car collision. This is simply a claim for the cost of renting a replacement vehicle.
However, even in clear liability cases, we are seeing a trend where the insurance company refuses to authorize a rental for our client. This can be difficult in one car families, and one option is to contact Oregon's Insurance Division. Although the Insurance Division is not all that aggressive in enforcing fair claims settlement practice statutes, it will make an inquiry, and in many cases, that spurs the insurance company into action.
Another option is to contact your insurance company if you have comprehensive/collision coverage. Your insurance company will resolve the claim, and assert a right to be reimbursed from the at-fault driver's carrier. If successful, your carrier will reimburse you for any deductible it recovers from the at fault driver's insurance company.
If you were not injured in the collision, then you may be able to retain an attorney to make a settlement demand for the property damage. Depending upon the amount demanded, the attorney may be entitled to attorney fees in addition to the property damage claim if the insurance company refuses to pay the claim. This type of demand often gets insurance companies into a more realistic mindset.
However, you should keep in mind that if you do have an injury claim and a property damage claim, you cannot file separate lawsuits at different times on each claim. In Oregon, you get one bite at the litigation/lawsuit apple, and you must file both claims in the same complaint.
In some cases, a person will settle their personal injury claim, and then pursue the property damage claim. This is an option, but when you settle your injury claim, please read any settlement agreement carefully to make sure that your not waiving any rights to a property damage claim.