I assume the law on vehicle damage is pretty much the same in every state, right? The general rule is that the plaintiff gets the reasonable cost to repair the vehicle or the value of the vehicle, whichever one is lower.
In trial, the proof should go as follows: Plaintiff proves the value of the repair. Defendant either accepts the value, presents evidence that the real value of the repair is lower or that the value of the repair exceeds the value of the vehicle. If the defendant doesn’t do that, and liability is clear, the plaintiff should win.
Emphasis on “should.” In Iowa, this apparently isn’t the case. The case of Phipps v. Boone County requires the plaintiff to prove both:
A. The reasonable value of repairs, and
B. The value of the vehicle immediately prior to the collision.
Even if there is no objection.
I disagree with this… but Iowa lawyers need to be aware of this when handling property damage in car accident cases.
(Howard Zimmerle is a personal injury lawyer who handles auto accident cases in Iowa and Illinois. He can be reached at 309-794-1660 or hzimmerle [at] mjwlaw.com)