While your right to modify a car in California is limited, the state does allow you to make certain additions to your personal motor vehicle. How are you supposed to account for the value of those materials, though, should you find yourself in a car accident? Do you have the right to include damaged modifications or car enhancements in your request for compensation?
The answer to that question varies. In many cases, your right to include mods among your request for damages will hinge on whether or not those mods were legal and damaged in your accident. You can work with a California car accident lawyer to account for these losses and integrate them into a car crash injury claim, if possible.
Classifying Car Modifications
You can modify your car in a range of ways depending on how you want that car to perform. California classifies vehicle modifications and customizations as features added to a vehicle after the vehicle’s initial manufacturing.
The modifications permitted in California can include those to a car’s appearance as well as its operational features. For example, aesthetic inclusions, including three-dimensional paint designs, can constitute changes to a vehicle’s appearance. Comparatively, alterations to a car sound system, muffler, or internal operations constitute an operational mod.
With all of this said, California has particularly strict legislation addressing how it allows its residents to modify their cars inside and out. For example, California does not allow its residents to modify a car’s exhaust system with the intent of amplifying the amount of sound it makes.
Compensation For Mods in Insurance Claims vs. Personal Injury Cases
In the immediate wake of an accident, you may have the right to pursue both an insurance claim and a personal injury claim based on your losses. Your rights to include mods or enhancements in these claims depends on the party you submit a claim to.
Negligent drivers may owe you damages for losses incurred due to their negligence. It’s up to you to meet the state’s burden of proof to prove that said driver’s negligence directly resulted in your economic strife. Without evidence on hand, you may have trouble arguing for your rights to modification or enhancement compensation, regardless of your circumstances.
Let’s break down the difference between requesting mod compensation from an insurance provider vs. a negligent party in civil court.
Going to an Insurance Provider
Insurance providers facing first-party claims may only assume financial responsibility for mod and enhancement losses endured and an accident if those losses are covered by the liable party’s plan.
Note that some plans deliberately do not include certain modifications from their coverage. You may lose the right to request support for damaged digital equipment, muffler modifications, and sound equipment, even if the equipment you had did not violate California’s laws.
You can work with a car accident lawyer to determine which of your losses an insurance provider covers in the wake of a client-caused loss.
Going to Civil Court
If you want to request damages for modifications in civil court, you have an obligation to prove that these parts of your car suffered damage due to roadway misconduct. Even then, though, a judge and jury may deny you the right to include those losses in your final complaint.
You have a better chance of receiving compensation for mods or enhancements when meeting with a liable party for out-of-court negotiations. You can work with California car accident lawyers to determine whether or not you have the right to include the cost of these modifications and the labor needed to install them when you first schedule a case evaluation.
Setareh Law Advocates for Your Right to Maximum Case Compensation
California has some of the strictest limitations on the mods or enhancements that a person can add to their cars. However, the state’s personal injury statutes also allow most parties involved in dangerous roadway accidents to recover damages for some, if not all, of those damaged parts.
If you’re not sure whether or not to include certain modifications in your request for damages after a car accident, get in touch with us today. Our team at Setareh Law can look into your case, calculate your right to financial support, and represent your best interests until your case concludes. Call us at (310) 659-1826 or fill out our contact form today.