I was driving west on I 90 when a vehicle, insured by Geico Insurance Company, left its eastbound lane of travel and entered the median at a high rate of speed. Very large stones within the median were then shot into my lane of travel damaging my Audi. Geico called me soon thereafter to tell me where I was to take my car for repairs. I introduced myself as an attorney that practices in the personal injury field, and that I was very familiar with the insurance company tactics. In short, I knew Geico wanted to refer to someone who might use substandard parts (substitutes for Audi parts), but this was unacceptable to me. I told them I would take my Audi to the repair shop of my choice, and there was only one authorized repair shop in the State of Washington, which was in Redmond, Washington. My office and residence are located in Moses Lake, Washington. I told Geico Insurance Company that at all I wanted was reimbursement for the repair cost and any travel expenses I would incur while my car was in the repair shop. Geico claims denial process I knew was about to begin.
Geico paid the first repair bill, but here came Geico claims denial, it failed to pay the last repair bill. Another Geico claims denial, I submitted a receipt received by me when I rented a vehicle from the Hertz rental company. The insurance company was in full Geico claims denial, the email receipt from Hertz it insisted was not good enough, it wanted a paper receipt. More Geico claims denial, it rejected my travel expenses that were incurred by flying from Seattle to Pullman, Washington because I did not have an automobile for that trip. I told the Geico insurance adjuster that all I wanted were my out-of-pocket expenses, but once again came the Geico claims denial, it refused to pay my out of pocket expense. I had not made a claim for my lost wages for the time I had to take out of my law practice to get my car repaired. But I said to the Geico claims denial person, I would if they were going to continue to denial my out of pocket expenses.
Geico claims denial personnel steadfastly refused to reimburse all out-of-pocket expenses, so true to my word, I filed a lawsuit in District Court. The complaint included a claim for lost wages. The end result was that Geico claims denial people were presumptively informed by their attorney that appeared in the lawsuit for it, all of my out-of-pocket expenses, the service and filing fees for the complaint filed in District Court, and my wage loss for taking my vehicle to the repair shop was to be paid. In short, the Geico claims denial department paid more than I had requested at the start of the claim.
The moral of the story is that when the defendant or other driver damages your vehicle, even though you do not suffer a personal or physical injury, the defendant and the insurer are obligated to you for all out-of-pocket expenses, repair cost by the repair shop of your choice, loss of market value depending upon whether you sell or keep the vehicle, and your lost wages. You may very well be able to recover all of these damages in small claims court, if your damages fit within the jurisdiction of small claims court, which is $5000. The advantage of small claims court is that you do not need an attorney nor is an attorney allowed to represent the defendant. If the damages are more than $5000, you may well need an attorney to file a suit. Do not let the insurance industry be as the Geico claims denial adjusters were in my case, dictating to you how you should proceed when it’s insured has negligently damaged your property.