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Home / Auto Accident / What is Loss of Use Claim in California?

What is Loss of Use Claim in California?

What is Loss of Use Claim in California?

In the aftermath of a car accident, exploring avenues for compensation is crucial. In addition to seeking damages for medical expenses or lost wages, you can also file a loss of use claim in California to compensate you for the time you were unable to operate your vehicle after a crash.

Understanding how a loss of use claim fits into your comprehensive compensation claim with the at-fault party’s insurer can help you receive funds to pay for alternative transportation and alleviate the inconvenience caused by another driver’s negligence.

What Are California Loss Of Use Claims?

In California, a car accident loss of use claim is a lesser-known option to recover compensation if your vehicle is temporarily or permanently unusable due to being damaged. This claim allows you to recover damages for every day spent without access to your damaged vehicle.

You can use funds from a loss of use claim to reimburse you for the cost of using alternative transportation, such as ride-sharing like Uber or Lyft or public transportation. They can also be part of a broader insurance claim, compensating you for your inability to drive your car.

Loss Of Use Claims Vs. Rental Reimbursement

While both loss of use claims and rental reimbursement coverage help you pay for transportation if your vehicle is seriously damaged, they are not the same. Rental reimbursement is a specific type of coverage that pays for renting a vehicle if your car is undrivable due to a crash.

Rental reimbursement is only available if you choose to use a rental car to replace your damaged or totaled vehicle after the crash. If you do not have or need a replacement vehicle or use other forms of transportation, you may be entitled to a loss of use claim instead.

How Much Can You Receive in a Loss of Use Claim?

Your car accident attorney can help you calculate your loss of use claim based on a daily (per diem) basis. The claim’s exact monetary value is based on the rental costs of a vehicle of the same or similar make, model, and type in your area.

Brand-new vehicles command higher rental rates than older models. Vehicles such as SUVs, luxury vehicles, sports cars, or large trucks tend to be more expensive to rent than standard commuter cars. The higher the average rental costs for a vehicle of the same type as the model you lost the use of, the higher the per diem rates.

After calculating the per diem rate, your attorney will multiply it by the number of days corresponding to the estimated time to repair the vehicle. The result is the monetary amount of your loss of use claim.

Proving Loss of Use Damages

Regardless of the extent of the damage to your vehicle, you must show proof to the at-fault party’s insurance provider to support your loss of use claim. Your attorney can help you gather and submit the following to support your loss of use claim:

Demonstrating Ownership of Your Vehicle

The first step is to establish that you owned the vehicle. Documents you can use to demonstrate ownership of your vehicle in California include:

Establishing the Loss of Use Period

When claiming loss of use of a vehicle with temporary damage, the loss of use period may include every day it spends undergoing repairs or storage. If your vehicle is totaled or the extent of the car’s damage is considered permanent, the loss of use period typically ends when you loan or purchase an equivalent vehicle.

Meeting Your Duty to Mitigate

In California, victims of another party’s negligence or wrongdoing have a duty to mitigate their damages (Green v. Smith, CA Court of Appeal, 1968).

The duty to mitigate is a legal requirement for victims to promptly seek repairs or reduce the harm they sustained following an incident. This means you must take action to reduce or lessen the severity of the damages to your vehicle without delay.

For example, you must have your vehicle inspected and repaired by a professional technician as soon as possible after the crash. The at-fault party’s insurance provider does not have to pay for any delays you cause. Failing to take these steps can reduce the chances of getting a settlement if your case goes to court.

Additional Compensation Claims You Can File After a Crash

While filing a loss of use claim may be necessary to recover losses following a traffic accident, you may have other options for seeking compensation. Carefully evaluating the circumstances of your incident may entitle you to file additional claims, such as:

  • Loss of income claim: If your damaged vehicle was necessary for professional activities, the loss of use may have caused lost wages or business interruptions. You may be eligible to file a loss of income claim alongside a loss of use claim to address these losses.
  • Diminished value claim: If you plan to sell your vehicle after receiving repairs, its accident history may have reduced its fair market value. In that case, you may be eligible for a diminished value claim in California. This claim can help you get additional compensation to address financial loss when selling or trading it for another vehicle.
  • Personal injury claim: You may be able to file a personal injury claim if you were injured during the incident and experienced pain and suffering as a result. For example, if the collision damaged your vehicle and caused broken bones or recurring emotional distress, you can seek a loss of use claim and compensatory damages.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) claim: If your insurance policy includes UM/UIM coverage and the at-fault party is uninsured or underinsured, you may be eligible to file a UM/UIM claim. Filing a UM/UIM claim can provide additional compensation from your insurance provider up to your policy’s terms and limits.

Seek Legal Representation for Your Loss of Use Claim

The Shirvanian Law Firm is an award-winning full-service law firm with extensive experience serving the people of California. Our Glendale-based legal team has the knowledge and resources to help you navigate the California Insurance Code for your loss of use claim. We will assist you every step of the way, from drafting a loss of use demand letter to negotiating with the insurers on your behalf.

Contact attorney Narbeh Shirvanian today to schedule a free consultation, or use our live chat feature for 24/7 real-time assistance.


• What is the Loss of Use in California?

In California, loss of use refers to a specific type of compensation you may be entitled to if your vehicle is damaged or inoperable due to an accident caused by someone else. You can file a loss of use claim if you don’t seek a rental vehicle to replace your damaged or totaled car.

• What is a Loss of Use Coverage Example?

Suppose your car was hit and damaged by another driver in California. After an inspection, the mechanics determined that fully repairing your vehicle would require 20 days. During the repair period, your car accident attorney researches daily rental costs for a vehicle of the same make, model, and year as yours.

If they determine that renting a car similar to yours would cost $120 a day, multiply that value by the 30 days required to repair your vehicle to obtain your claim amount: $3,600.

• How do you Calculate the Loss of Use for a Vehicle in California?

To calculate the loss of use for a vehicle, determine the reasonable time for repairs or replacement. Then, multiply this duration by the rental value of a similar vehicle to get the compensation amount. Insurance companies typically consider repair estimates and rental rates to assess the loss of use claim.

• Can I Lose My House Due to an At-Fault Car Accident in California?

If you are at fault for a car accident in California and the other driver seeks damages in a lawsuit, your personal assets, including your house, may be at risk. However, this is only likely if you do not have insurance coverage, the settlement exceeds your insurance maximums, or you don’t have access to liquid capital (cash or other assets) to satisfy the damage award.

Disclaimer: The information provided is general and not legal advice. Consult with a professional attorney for individual advice regarding personal legal matters.