Institute Debuts Project to Share Court Decisions in Favor of Repairers

From CollisionWeek ©2011

The Automotive Education & Policy Institute (AEPI) announced the official launch of its online project to collect and publish legal decisions finding in favor of collision repairers that successfully sought to obtain payment in full for professional collision repair services from insurers or at-fault parties.

The institute is appealing to attorneys, consumers and collision repair professionals to submit information about lawsuits, arbitration, or appraisal matters for publication on the non-profit AEPI’s website.

“Too often we hear of situations in which an insurer flatly refuses to pay reasonable rates or for activities that the professional repairer has determined to be necessary for the safe and proper repair of a customer’s vehicle. In the current economic times, many consumers simply cannot afford to pay for those repairs themselves and take their insurers to court for reimbursement,” said Ohio attorney E. L. Eversman, founder of the AEPI.

“Insurers know this and engage in what we believe are predatory practices to avoid paying a claim in full. This means that the consumer does not receive a proper repair of the damaged vehicle, or the collision repairer is not fully paid for all of the work performed. Either way, the outcome is unacceptable,” says Eversman.

The goal of the online project is to document these issues and inform attorneys, judges, and consumers of the frequency of occurrence and results of other cases and rulings.

Eversman explained that these types of smaller court decisions can be valuable as precedent or persuasion for future cases, but are often difficult to locate. “Most of these decisions come from small claims matters,” Eversman explained. “They don’t get reported to any of the national legal databases where they are readily accessible, but these decisions can be important and influential. We just need to know about them so the AEPI can track down the materials for posting.”

Eversman says, “By collecting and posting unreported decisions or transcripts of proceedings that are available only through the issuing court, repairers and their counsel will have access to court precedent and the facts and admissions leading to these decisions that can be used to persuade other courts, customers, and insurers that the repairers’ charges are reasonable and necessary for a safe and proper repair.

The institute’s online project was recently awarded a grant from the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) as part of the association’s Industry Improvement grant initiative. The AASP grant program was started in 2010 to fund projects having the potential of improving or advancing the collision and mechanical repair industries.

“We already have some great materials posted,” said Eversman, “Including the statement by California Judge James G. Bertoli in which he declared that State Farm’s collision repair labor rate survey ‘from a statistical standpoint would get a first year college student a flunking grade.’ That is the type of indictment of an insurance company’s method of paying claims that we should all know about.”

With the assistance of the grant, Eversman said, “The Automotive Education & Policy Institute hopes to be able to identify and obtain case decisions and transcripts of lawsuits in which repairers have successfully obtained payment for the true cost of repairs for consumers’ vehicles, rather than the lower cost an insurer prefers.”

The AEPI “Legal Cases” section of its website can be found at
http://autoepi.org/Legal_Cases.html

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