A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Plaintiff’s Claim for Property Damage to Vehicle Limited to Vehicle’s Market Value

By on April 28, 2017 in Civil Lawsuits with 0 Comments

Plaintiff Aaron Adena was involved in a motor vehicle accident with defendant Joseph Cupoli in which he suffered no injuries but his vehicle sustained extensive damage. Plaintiff’s insurance carrier, MetLife Auto & Home (MetLife) declared plaintiff’s vehicle a total loss and paid him for its actual cash value plus the cost of a rental car. In Adena v. Cupoli, 2017 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1006 (App. Div. April 25, 2017), the plaintiff contended that the defendant should pay him for the additional costs for him to purchase a new vehicle.

MetLife paid the plaintiff $11,277.21 for the cash value of his vehicle plus $270 for fees incurred in renting a substitute vehicle. Plaintiff incurred no out of pocket expenses for towing or storage.

MetLife sent a subrogation demand to defendant’s insurance carrier, demanding reimbursement for the monies it paid to plaintiff. The defendant’s carrier paid MetLife in full.

However, plaintiff filed a complaint in Special Civil Part for $4,624.08, consisting of $259.58 for car rental fees, $2,430 for the purchase of a new vehicle, $230 for the registration and license plates for the new vehicle, $197.90 for floor mats for the new vehicle, and $1,560 to pay off the balance of his car loan for the damaged vehicle.

Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff was paid in full and was entitled to no additional monies. The trial court agreed and granted the motion.

Upon appeal, the Appellate Division noted that “the measure of damages for the destruction of an automobile is the market value at the time of the loss.” A plaintiff would be entitled to recover reasonable out of pocket expenses for towing, storage, and rental for a substitute vehicle. However, the Court noted that the plaintiff already received the market value for his destroyed vehicle plus the rental cost of a substitute vehicle. Hence, the plaintiff’s property damage claim was paid in full and he was not entitled to any additional expenses. Thus, it affirmed the trial court’s decision, dismissing the complaint.

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About the Author

About the Author:

Ms. Ramos is an Executive Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department at Capehart Scatchard, P.A. located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She is an experienced litigator with over 25 years experience handling diverse matters. Practice areas include tort defense, business litigation, estate litigation, tort claims and civil rights defense, construction litigation, insurance coverage, employment litigation, shareholder disputes, and general litigation.

For the years 2020 and 2021, Ms. Ramos was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the practice area of Litigation - Insurance. The attorneys on this list are selected based upon the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area. A complete description of The Best Lawyers in America© methodology can be viewed via their website at: https://www.bestlawyers.com/methodology.

In 2021, Capehart Scatchard and Ms. Ramos received the “Best Law Firm” ranking in the area of Litigation – Insurance (Metro, Tier 3) published by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers®. Law firms included on the list are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have at least one attorney who has been included in the current edition of Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top five percent of practicing lawyers in the United States. Betsy Ramos (Litigation – Insurance) was recognized for this prestigious award in the 2021 edition. For a description of the “Best Law Firm” selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

“Best Law Firms” is published by Best Lawyers in partnership with U.S. News & World Report. For a description of the selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

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