New York State Seal
STATE OF NEW YORK
INSURANCE DEPARTMENT
25 BEAVER STREET
NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10004

 

The Office of General Counsel issued the following informal opinion on July 15, 2002, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.

RE: Storage Costs of Motor Vehicle Damaged in Accident

Dear Mr. McCormick:

This letter is in response to your recent inquiry.

Question Presented:

Where a motor vehicle is physically damaged as a result of a motor vehicle accident, and a plaintiff institutes litigation to recover the cost of repairing the vehicle, does the New York Insurance Law treat the costs for repairing the vehicle as a separate demand for relief with the court from the costs charged for storing the vehicle?

Conclusion:

There is no provision in the New York Insurance Law or the regulations promulgated thereunder that discusses whether the costs for repairing a physically damaged motor vehicle can be treated as a separate demand for relief with the court from the costs charged for storing the vehicle.

Facts:

An attorney representing a defendant in a small claims lawsuit stated that the plaintiff had already commenced and won a small claims lawsuit against his client to recover the cost to repair the plaintiff’s motor vehicle, which was physically damaged as a result of a collision with the defendant’s motor vehicle. The Court awarded the plaintiff $2,929.55, which represented the appraised value of the plaintiff’s motor vehicle and court costs in the amount of $15. The plaintiff commenced a second small claims lawsuit to recover the $1,500 charged by the auto repair shop for storing the plaintiff’s motor vehicle. The attorney for the defendant posited that "because plaintiff’s storage fees arose out of the subject motor vehicle accident and were ascertainable at the time the small claims case was either commenced and/or heard, the plaintiff will be barred from seeking storage fees in any subsequent litigation or proceeding, pursuant to the doctrine of res judicata." The attorney stated that it was the plaintiff’s contention that the storage fees were separately recoverable from the repair costs, and that the New York State Insurance Department supported this position.

Analysis:

There is no provision in the New York Insurance Law or the regulations promulgated thereunder that discusses whether the costs for repairing a physically damaged motor vehicle can be treated as a separate demand for relief with the court from the costs charged for storing the vehicle.

For further information you may contact Senior Attorney Sally Geisel at the New York City Office.