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Loss-of-Use Damages Following a Car Accident


If your car is totaled in an auto accident caused by another person’s negligence, you obviously can seek damages for the replacement cost of your vehicle. But you may also be entitled to additional damages for the “loss of use” and out-of-pocket expenses related to your car. Under Iowa law, loss-of-use damages are available for the “usable value of the destroyed [vehicle] during the time reasonably required to replace it.”

Court of Appeals Awards “Out of Pocket Expenses” to Business Forced to Replace Dump Truck Following Accident

A recent decision from the Iowa Court of Appeals, Chadmark, LLC v. Bush, offers a helpful illustration of how these types of damages work. This case involves an accident that took place in Polk County in July 2015. According to court records, the defendant “failed to yield at a stop sign” and collided with a dump truck owned by the plaintiff.

The dump truck was declared a total loss due to the accident. This forced the plaintiff to purchase a replacement truck. The defendant’s insurance company offered the plaintiff approximately $29,049.68 “to pay for the loss of use” of the totaled truck. The plaintiff accepted the check but said it would not consider the payment a “final settlement.”

In its subsequent personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff presented the court with evidence that it took nearly 2 months to obtain a replacement truck. During this period, the defendant lost significant revenue, as it was forced to operate three trucks instead of its normal four.

After a bench trial, a Polk County judge determined the plaintiff was entitled to $29,139.11 in loss-of-use damages, which was only $89.43 more than the defendant’s insurance company had already paid. The judge further denied the plaintiff’s demand for reimbursement of its out-of-pocket expenses.

The Court of Appeals held the trial judge erred on this latter issue. At trial, the plaintiff explained it incurred significant expenses in obtaining the actual replacement truck, which was manufactured in Texas. These expenses included airfare, hotel, and freight hauling costs.

These expenses did not qualify as loss-of-use damages, the appeals court explained, but were rather “additional damages that arose out of the loss” of the original truck. Such expenses were “an integral part of acquiring the replacement truck that, under these particular facts, places [the plaintiff] in a position as if” the original truck “had not been damaged.” The Court of Appeals therefore modified the trial court’s judgment to reflect an additional award of $3,533.14 for the plaintiff’s out of pocket expenses.

Speak with a Southeast Iowa Personal Injury Lawyer Today

In the aftermath of a car accident, you have the right to seek compensation for the full measure of your losses. An experienced Southeast Iowa auto accident attorney can help you in holding the negligent parties responsible. Contact the Noyes Law Office today to schedule an initial consultation with a member of our personal injury team today.


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