Motor vehicle claims settlement
Invoice reductions are usually not legal!
In a webinar, lawyer Henning Hamann makes it clear that the documents referred to by insurance companies as "test reports" have no legal validity whatsoever.
Mr Konrad Wenz states in his article dated 26/01/2022 (Invoice reductions and no end in sight (fahrzeug-karosserie.de) the most important information from the webinar:
"Around 40 per cent of garages try to take action against so-called test reports themselves by means of a counterstatement - this was the result of an online survey of over 500 participants at the 5th Voigt Automotive Online Forum.
Invoice reductions and recourse claims against the workshop were the focus of the webinar organised by the law firm Voigt Rechtsanwälte GmbH. Lawyer Henning Hamann, managing partner, discussed the reductions in repair invoices. According to Hamann, insurers and inspection service providers reduce everything that can be reduced, such as labour costs, paint costs, disinfection costs, depreciation, etc.
The insurers would make the reductions on the basis of inspection reports. Seven per cent of garages accept the reductions and write off the missing amounts, was the result of an online survey of the more than 500 participants in the webinar.
Hamann went on to criticise the test reports. Among other things, he criticised the fact that the inspection service providers produce different inspection reports - depending on who the result is made available to - that inspection reports are billed across the board as an automated expert opinion inspection and that items are reduced based on the insurance companies' inspection parameters. "This means that inspection reports are not worth the paper they are printed on," explained Hamann, adding that if inspection reports are bound by instructions - and Hamann has a letter of confirmation from an insurance company - they cannot be described as inspection reports. Rather, they are a "wishful thinking paper" of the insurance companies, but not a technically relevant review of what experts have determined in their reports.
Hamann once again explained the so-called damage triangle. This ultimately means that the workshop is only liable to the customer who orders the repair of their vehicle via the contract for work and labour. Conversely, this means that the liability insurer does not reduce the workshop's invoice, but rather the claims of the injured party, added Hamann. However, there is no justification for this. This is because the law states that the costs necessary for the repair must be reimbursed. In this regard, Hamann quoted a BGH judgement from 1974 (29 October 1974 - VI ZR 42/73), according to which the injuring party is also liable for those costs that the workshop commissioned by him caused through no fault of his own as a result of uneconomical or improper work. The injured party may rely on the judgement of the professionals commissioned by him, such as experts, lawyers and garages.
Test reports have no legal relevance - Hamann cited several judgements that confirm this. Accordingly, an inspection report is not suitable for undermining an expert opinion. The conclusion of his presentation: No liability claim without a lawyer or expert. Only expert opinions create legal certainty and liability, and they also increase the enforcement rate, according to the lawyer.
As there is no legal basis for invoice reductions in most cases, insurers are increasingly taking recourse against garages or experts after claims have been settled. According to another online survey conducted during the webinar, around half of the respondents have already been confronted with recourse claims.
Lawyer Jörg Rüberg, head of ETL Kanzlei Voigt's Dortmund and Münster offices, went on to discuss the recourse claims. The basis for this is the insurance claim that the injured party assigns any claims against the workshop for incorrect or faulty repairs to the insurance company in the preliminary proceedings under liability law. Insurers then use this assignment - which the injured party must submit - to take action against the garage. According to Rogler, the law on contracts for work and labour applies to such recourse processes. The basis for the recourse claim is then usually the inspection reports, which the lawyer described as an individualised attack on the repair costs.
The garages must defend themselves against the recourse claims - in order to win the case, preparation is required right from the start of the claims process, explained Rüberg. It is important that the repair order refers to the damage report. The liability report is the mother of claims settlement and serves as a defence in the lawsuit. The workshop can counter the increase in recourse claims by insurers by means of invoicing and legal action. However, this requires the involvement of a lawyer and an expert.
Original article: Invoice reductions and no end in sight (fahrzeug-karosserie.de)