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Looking for advice re: accident

Well it finally happened. With 15 months of ownership and just under 10,000 miles, the Aluminum Falcon was hit Friday night. We were stopped at a stoplight and another driver slammed into us. His airbag deployed and there was quite a bit of damage to the front of his Mazda 3. We were thrown about quite violently from the impact but seatbelts and the great seat design (good, solid, well-placed headrests I am sure contributed to our safety.

Police, fire and EMS responded to the scene and cited him (he openly admitted he had his cell in his lap, it slipped to the floor and he bent down to retrieve it and didn't see us or the red light when he hit us. The crappy part about this is this was a completely preventable accident that shouldn't have happened, but there isn't a single thing I could have done to prevent it...purely a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I've already spoken to my insurance company (USAA) and made arrangements to have car looked at by certified Tesla repair shop (Chantilly Auto Body in Chantilly VA) this upcoming Friday. Shop has told me they will inspect car and (since car is driveable) let me keep using car while they order parts (they admitted some parts can take a long time to come in, others arrive in a few days). Once parts are received from Tesla, I'll bring car in and they will start repair.

Only modification I had made to the car was a total PPF wrap. USAA knows it was wrapped and I'm going to get an estimate from that company for how much it will take to re-wrap the affected parts of the car once repairs are complete. I intend to have insurance pay for that as well.

I know that you never know how much damage is until you open up the car, but from the outside, the damage looks pretty minor. There are scrapes and some holes in the rear bumper. The back of the lift gate has scratches and some dents. I'm guessing there is some damage to the bumper beneath the bumper cover. None of the quarter panels show any signs of damage. My guess is that the bumper cover, bumper and likely need to replace the liftgate mean we are talking a repair bill in excess of $5K, but I honestly have no idea what things cost to repair/replace.

USAA has informed me that they will handle my claim and deal with the other owner's insurance (GEICO) to handle getting reimbursed (including the cost of my deductible).

This is literally the first accident I have had in 35 years of driving, so I have a couple of questions I'm hoping for advice on.

My car is a 90D with 9,500 miles on it. Clearly it has depreciated since purchase, but I'm not sure how much it is worth today (other than running an Edumund's website query). My guess is that even after the car is repaired, the accident history has decreased the car's value by at least 10,000 if not a lot more. Have read all the threads on diminished value and GEICO and suspect I am going to have to retain one of the diminished value experts people have posted about and presumably have to negotiate/go to court for some sort of reimbursement from GEICO. I just don't know what the process is.

Do I do all this now? Get the car repaired via USAA and then go with some sort of court claim against GEICO/the owner for diminished value? How about claims for the ER bill for myself and my daughter (we have TRICARE health insurance but I am sure will have copays/expenses associated with the treatment since it was at a civilian hospital)? I recognize that we are very fortunate that we are OK with just minor injuries and the car is still usable, but am trying to figure out what the next steps are. Would appreciate any expertise those who have knowledge in this area (especially when it comes to Virginia law) could share, be it on the forum or via private message/email.

Obviously I am just sick to my stomach about the damage to the car and loss of value. I recognize that the car will be repaired to be "good as new" but also know that when I go to sell or trade the car in, the damage drastically decreases what the car is worth and honestly believe the other driver/his insurance company should be making me whole for that. However, I had never even heard of diminished value until reading some of the threads in these forums and have never been involved in any kind of legal claim/proceeding in my life...have no expertise or people to ask, hence I'm asking the good people of the Tesla community.

Thanks for your consideration and feedback.
  • Helpful
Reactions: TaoJones
I can speak from experience on when my wife's (non-Tesla) car was rear-ended at a stop light. In my case, both drivers used the same insurance company (Nationwide) so maybe it would function differently in your situation. They handled the accident first and got all that repaired and treated it as 1 claim. Then after that was complete and all of the repairs were done, they asked me to open a separate claim to come out and do the loss of value piece.

No one pushed back on the loss of value claim at all, but it did seem like they were kind of hoping I would forget about it since they made me wait until after the car was repaired which took a month or two. I don't think you will have any issues at all filing a loss of value claim.


Mar 24, 2009
Davis, CA
My only advice (for your good, and the good of others) is to avoid calling stuff like this an "accident." Using accident just lets people off the hook for inattentive behavior because hey, Oops. Sorry, man. I didn't mean to.

It was objectively a collision. Or a crash. Whatever you like. But it was not an accident if we know the cause (distracted driving).

I know this doesn't answer your question directly, and I know it can at first sound pedantic. But I've come to realize that words matter, and if you go to court, the last thing you'll want to do is explain that you were sitting there at a red light when an inattentive driver came along and smashed your car during an "I didn't mean to hit you."

Sorry this has happened. I totally understand the disparity between having your car "repaired" and having it perfect like it should be.
And...if the distracted driver had a Tesla and used EAP, the distraction probably would not have led to a collision.

EAP is my backup for moments when my eyes aren’t on the road ahead. They do occur, despite efforts to minimize them.

Condolences on your disruption, stress, and aggravation as well as damage to such a beautiful and functional machine.
Good point. To be honest, I think any car with collision warning would have beeped, given an indication of an impending collision and likely given the other driver time to take action and prevent the collision (or at least minimize the impact). It's kind of like blind spot warning or a back-up camera. These things really do prevent/preclude/warn drivers in time to prevent accidents/collisions/incidents that otherwise would have occurred. I'm sure in 10 or 15 years every card (except antiques) will have these technologies as standard. The fact the Tesla has so many of these technologies and is such a safe car is part of the reason I bought my Tesla.

Yes it sucks that I have a damaged car, but at the end of the day the car did exactly what it should have done. It protected myself and my child such that we were not killed or maimed when another car hit us, and I'm grateful for that.


Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016
I know that you never know how much damage is until you open up the car, but from the outside, the damage looks pretty minor. There are scrapes and some holes in the rear bumper. The back of the lift gate has scratches and some dents. I'm guessing there is some damage to the bumper beneath the bumper cover. None of the quarter panels show any signs of damage. My guess is that the bumper cover, bumper and likely need to replace the liftgate mean we are talking a repair bill in excess of $5K, but I honestly have no idea what things cost to repair/replace.

If we saw pictures we could give you a better guess, but I'll start at a $12k repair estimate. And it can go up from their quickly.

I know you want to drive it while waiting for parts but make sure they at least take the bumper cover off before ordering the first batch of parts.
@jimmyjohn - no autopilot was not engaged. Happy to talk/share pictures with reporters if desired. Bottom line is that the other guy's car was quite badly damaged but the Tesla protected us exactly as designed and doesn't look nearly as bad as the other car. I know that some people don't like the Tesla seats, but I honestly believe the full headrest protected us from more severe injury -- the impact was quite dramatic and both my child and I have bruises where the seatbelt stopped our forward motion and then the seats protected us when we slammed back into them quite violently.

@MP3Mike - Great advice. I'm taking it into the Tesla approved shop Friday. I'll ask them to remove the cover so they can evaluate for further damage. I know there is more damage than what you see externally, but how much remains to be seen. I do think that the overall strength and weight of a Tesla contributed to the lack of damage/injuries and am certainly glad that, if I was going to be hit, I was hit while sitting in a Tesla...
I don't think you're obligated to discuss this directly with the other driver's insurance. I think you should ask your own insurance agent or adjuster if you should talk to GEICO. It's obviously the other driver's fault, but I always wonder in these situations if the other insurance company is trying to get you to say something - anything - that could help their case.
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Reactions: Kalex
Good point. Just talked to the GEICO rep. She wanted to set up appointment with their repair shop for estimate, repairs, etc. I told her I had already done that through my insurance. She asked if I wanted to work through my insurance and then let my agency work with them WRT reimbursement/subrogation. I said yes, I wanted to get care repaired with my agency. I did tell her I intended to file a claim with GEICO for diminished value. She checked (put me on hold) and then told me that I could do that, it is with a "specialty adjuster" and that the claim could not be initiated until repairs were complete and subrogation between USAA and GEICO were complete, which might take a few months. I said that was fine, but I wanted it documented in the GEICO file that I intend to claim diminished value. All in all she was very pleasant and professional...

I have a call into my insurance adjuster now to tell them about conversation with GEICO rep.
  • Like
Reactions: MP3Mike


Active Member
Supporting Member
Apr 25, 2015
I have USAA great insurance ... use St Lucie appraisal for DV report ..he has done Tesla’s ... I had similar hit on my car and was 12k damage ... with the diminished value report I was paid 10k just for mailing in report to other insurance ...the report cost also reimbursed cost $300
  • Disagree
Reactions: Numonefan
Just wanted to provide an update to everyone on how things are going. The car is now repaired and back in my hands. I am still in the process of pursuing a diminished value claim against the other driver/his insurance company. My car was repaired at Chantilly Auto Body (a Tesla approved body shop). Timeline:
  • 5/4/18 - Accident
  • 5/11//18 - Car inspected by Chantilly Auto Body for insurance estimate
  • 5/12/18 - Estimate submitted to insurance, parts ordered
  • 7/6/18 - Parts Received
  • 7/9/18 - Dropped car off for repair
  • 7/10/18 - Notified there was additional damage found to car when they removed bumper cover, another $900 in cost and additional parts required which are now on order
  • 7/16/18 - Notified the additional parts were delivered and they can start repairs
  • 7/30/18 - Picked up car
  • 7/31 - realized the third brake light (one in the rear window) was not working (it had worked previously), took it to Chantilly auto body and they agreed it needed to be replaced (needing more parts from Tesla)
  • 8/3/18 - Drop car off at Chantilly Auto Body for second round of repairs
  • 8/10/18 - Parts received from Tesla
  • 8/31/18 - Picked up car from Chantilly Auto Body
Following completion of repairs/paint work, I had to wait 30 days before the car could go back to the detail shop to reapply PPF and coating to the parts that had been replaced or repainted. Bottom result is that on 10/13, over 5 months after the accident, I got the car back fully repaired and with PPF/coating applied. Obviously the parts issue (in particular for body parts like bumper covers, quarter panels, the rear liftgate, etc.) continues to be a major problem for Tesla. Part of the issue is that dealerships don't exist and service centers don't stock these parts, so the only place to get them is from the factory. It's also apparent that the factory either maintains no collection of spare body parts/bolts/parts for use supporting repairs or the stock they maintain is insufficient to support a fleet of well over 200,000 cars in the wild. i would hope that Tesla will ultimately correct this problem, but it will require a change in how they approach parts support and a change in how they do business that is certainly necessary, but I believe remains unrecognized by Elon/senior Tesla leadership.

For those interested in diminished value claim, I'll continue to update this thread as things progress.
Do you have any images of before/after that you can post? I was rear-ended about 2 weeks ago and am now working through the process. Just wanted some images to compare amount of damage. I am very interested on details on your diminished value claim so please keep this thread updated.

Also, do you plan to add a Loss of Use Claim as well? You have several weeks/months where you had your car in the shop and unable to use your car, you should be able to get Loss of Use. In my case the car is being deemed unsafe to drive so I am expecting to not have it the 6-months to 1-year.
I'll dig up the photos, it actually looked pretty minor (relatively speaking). Insurance provided a rental car (of course a non-Tesla) but I didn't push it and didn't go for the "I'm owed gas money" approach. Rather I am pushing on the DV claim as the car had less than 10,000 miles on it and I'm thinking the car has taking a big hit on value as a result of the damage history...we'll see what the estimator/appraiser says (I've hired St. Lucie to do it for me).

I'm not sure if I'll pursue a loss of use claim (or even if I can). My car was drivable until I dropped it off at the shop, at which point insurance provided a rental so I had a car to get around in. To be honest, I've never been the litigious type and really don't want to do it now, but I do want to be made whole for what I've lost. Same goes for the medical treatment for myself and my teen, but that's a whole other (and non-Tesla) story.

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