Kline Legal Group P.L.C.

January 2013 Archives

Achieving a Fair Value for Your "Totaled" Car

Adjusters often try to persuade their insurance clients into accepting less than they are entitled. Adjusters will use tactics such as discounting the value of certain options and then threatening to take the entire matter to arbitration when the client disagrees with the valuation. Most insurance contracts do contain an arbitration clause that mandate binding arbitration when there are disagreements as to value. Some insurance adjusters try to scare their own clients into accepting the lower valuation by stating that if the disagreement goes to arbitration, the client will have to pay more in arbitration costs, expert appraiser fees, and attorney costs than the difference in the disputed value. You can increase the valuation amount by using Internet resources to serve as the basis for your value arguments. KellyBlue Book and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) websites are easy to use and will allow you to select the model, make, year, and options to generate a fair value. Insurance adjusters often feel that the Kelly Blue Book values are too high and aimed at the consumer market (classified ads) rather than the car dealer's market. Adjusters generally believe the NADA values are more accurate since it is more likely that a replacement vehicle with identical options would be found at a car dealership rather than through the classified ads. However, insurance adjusters don't account for dealer mark-ups that get tacked on to the trade-in-values taken from NADA. You can also search the Internet for a car dealer ad for a similar car and use the ad prices as an additional basis for your increased value argument. You also should insist that sales tax is added to the final valuation amount since this is a cost that you will have to bear when you purchase a replacement vehicle. Sometimes these valuation strategies are not enough and an attorney should intervene in order to cut or reverse the intimidation and games that some insurance adjusters play.

Governor Signs Kelsey's Law Banning Cell Phone Use for Level 1 & 2 Teenage Drivers

On Tuesday, January 8, 2013, Governor Rick Synder signed a new legislative act that has been named "Kelsey's Law." The law prohibits all new drivers on their probationary licenses from talking on their phone while driving. Violation of the law by teenagers will be a civil infraction that could cause a young driver an extension of their probationary license period. The law applies to all Level 1 license holders that can only drive with a parent, guardian, or person over 21 years old. The law also applies to Level 2 drivers that are allowed to drive with limits such as restricted hours of driving and transporting other young passengers. Kelsey's law, Senate Bill 756, will take effect in late March 2013.The law was named in the memory of Kelsey Raffaele, a Sault Ste. Marie teenager, who died in January 2010 when she caused a serious auto accident while talking on her cellphone and trying to pass another vehicle on a two-lane highway. Kelsey's surviving mother, father, and twin sister, Courtney, were present at the Governor's signing ceremony in Lansing. Kelsey's sister Courtney had lobbied members of the State House and Senate to get Kelsey's law passed into law. Kelsey's mother, Bonnie Raffaele, stated after the law's signing ceremony "I know that Kelsey is up in heaven just clapping and screaming for joy over this because of the lives that can be saved through (her) tragic death."

A Car's Crash Data Retrieval Module Can Provide Valuable Evidence for an Auto Accident Trial

Most people don't realize that many newer makes and models of automobiles contain a Crash Data Retrieval (CDR) tool as part of the airbag control module. Even if the airbag does not deploy, the CDR records data once it is "activated" by a sudden change in direction, sudden rotations, or hard braking that often occur just prior to an accident. The CDR makes an electronic record of important data like speed, braking, steering angle, order of impact, seat belt use, presence of an occupant, and impact severity (change in velocity / delta v forces) in the few seconds before the crash. Different car makes and models record different amounts of data and different number of "events." This electronic data can be retrieved by an expert technologist and the data is often used by law enforcement officers, accident reconstructionist, government researchers, insurance adjusters, and attorneys. It is very important that your attorney has the experience and knowledge of how to preserve this information for a trial or negotiations with insurance companies.

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