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Auto Insurance Claims/California Loss of Use Regulations


What laws, statutes, etc govern "loss of use" of a vehicle that was involved in an accident?


Hi Wes,

In general youo are entitled to the cost of to rent a like vehicle during the time of repairs to your vehicle. Below is the California Civil Jury Instructions regarding loss of use.

California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)
3903M. Loss of Use of Personal Property (Economic Damage)
[Insert number, e.g., "13."] The loss of use of [name of plaintiff]'s [item of personal property].
To recover damages for loss of use, [name of plaintiff] must prove the reasonable cost to rent a similar [item of personal property] for the amount of time reasonably necessary to repair or replace the [item of personal property].
Sources and Authority
"[A]n owner's recovery for being deprived of the use of a damaged vehicle is generally to be determined with reference to the period of time reasonably required for the making of repairs." (Valencia v. Shell Oil Co. (1944) 23 Cal.2d 840, 844 [147 P.2d 558].)
"There appears to be no logical or practical reason why a distinction should be drawn between cases in which the property is totally destroyed and those in which it has been injured but is repairable, and we have concluded that when the owner of a negligently destroyed commercial vehicle has suffered injury by being deprived of the use of the vehicle during the period required for replacement, he is entitled, upon proper pleading and proof, to recover for loss of use in order to 'compensate for all the detriment proximately caused' by the wrongful destruction." (Reynolds v. Bank of America National Trust & Savings Assn. (1959) 53 Cal.2d 49, 50-51 [345 P.2d 926].)
" 'Loss of use' of property is different from 'loss' of property. To take a simple example, assume that an automobile is stolen from its owner. The value of the 'loss of use' of the car is the rental value of a substitute vehicle; the value of the 'loss' of the car is its replacement cost. The nature of 'loss of use' damages is described in California Jurisprudence Third as: 'The measure of damages for the loss of use of personal property may be determined with reference to the rental value of similar property which the plaintiff can hire for use during the period when he is deprived of the use of his own property.' " (Collin v. American Empire Insurance Co. (1994) 21 Cal.App.4th 787, 818 [26 Cal.Rptr.2d 391], internal citations omitted.)
Secondary Sources
6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (9th ed. 1988) Torts, � 1454, pp. 928-929
4 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 52, Medical Expenses and Economic Loss, � 52.32 (Matthew Bender)
California Tort Damages (Cont.Ed.Bar 1988) Vehicles and Other Personal Property, � 13.6
15 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 177, Damages (Matthew Bender)
6 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 65, Damages (Matthew Bender)
1 Bancroft-Whitney's California Civil Practice (1992) Torts, � 5:17

I hope this helps
Richard Hixenbaugh

Auto Insurance Claims

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Richard Hixenbaugh


Auto insurance claims procedure, auto coverage, liability issues, auto damage questions, how to deal with the insurance company, loss of use and diminished value.


I have been involved in the insurance industry for over 25 years. I have experience in underwriting, sales, claims adjusting, auto damage estimating, auto value appraising and diminished value appraising. I have testified as an expert witness over 35 times.

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Completed all required courses for the Florida Property-Casualty agents license and the Florida claims adjusters license. I have attended various courses on auto damage estmating, vehicle appraising and am ASE certified in collision damage analysis.

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