I have a 1996 American made mini-van with 180,000 miles on it.
A few days ago I was stopped at a traffic light with my foot on the brake when someone hit me from behind. On my first inspection of the damage, I could see that the hatch had a dent in it and I couldn’t open it. After exchanging information with the other driver, I attempted to leave the scene when I discovered I could push the brake pedal to the floor and yet not engage the brakes. I drove a few feet to a nearby parking lot, and when I got out, I saw fluid trailing from my van.
I had the van towed to my favorite garage where the staff diagnosed that the brake lines had failed in two places.
The staff had inspected the brakes in February 2011 and found no leaks, the brakes were working fine with no history of leaks immediately before the collision. Immediately after the collision, the brake lines were leaking so badly that the car was undriveable.
The staff at the garage told me that the insurance company likely wouldn’t cover the cost of replacing the brake lines, because they were so corroded that they would likely have failed after any panic stop. The adjuster inspected the brake lines in my absence a few days later and told me insurance wouldn’t cover the brake line repair because the garage staff had put the van on the lift and showed him how badly corroded they were. The lines were leaking all over the place because of the corrosion and not because of the collision.
When I told the adjuster that the brakes were fine before the collision, had been inspected in February 2011 with no leaks, and that the brakes failed immediately after the collision to the point where I couldn’t drive the car, the adjuster said “the garage staff agrees with my assessment”.
The garage’s estimated cost of replacing the brake lines is $800, more than the adjuster’s estimated cost of the body repairs.
Is the adjuster’s assessment standard market practice? (that the brake line failure is not due to the collision, and therefore not covered under insurance)
Am I forced to accept the adjuster’s decision?
What is the ethical role of the garage staff in giving the adjuster opinions on the cause of the brake failure?
Thank You in advance for your advice.