Car accidents don’t always result in injury fortunately. Sometimes all you need to do is to file a property damage claim and get reimbursed by the insurance company. But sometimes getting the money you need to repair or replace your car isn’t that easy. Sometimes problems arise because of the circumstances of the crash. Other times it’s a matter of miscommunication. Below are some things you need to know about filing a property damage claim.
1. File with the insurance company of the at-fault driver
If it is clear that the other driver is at-fault, file with his or her insurance company. If you aren’t sure at this point, go ahead and file with your own insurance company as well, which is always faster. Even if you learn the other driver was at fault after your insurance company pays your damages, they will seek subrogation to get the damages they paid reimbursed and get your deductible back. You have time limits for filing a property damage claim so don’t delay.
2. You might not get a rental car
If your car received significant damage, you need transportation until it is repaired or replaced. Sometimes the at-fault driver’s insurance company won’t accept liability before receiving full details of the crash. A good injury lawyer will attempt to make them provide his client with a car in the interim. If you have purchased rental coverage, it is often easier to file with your own company. If neither company will provide you with a rental car, your only option might be to pay out-of-pocket until the insurance company accepts liability.
3. The insurance company might not give you enough to pay off your car loan or replace your car
The insurance company must pay you the cost of repairs for your damaged vehicle. If it is a total loss, meaning it would cost more to repair than it’s worth, then they will pay you the fair market value. That means the amount you could get if you decided to sell it. Most people and businesses use Kelly’s Blue Book to estimate a fair market value. It doesn’t have anything to do with the amount of money you still owe on your vehicle. Often, that means you won’t get enough compensation to replace your car with one of equal value. Again, it is usually better to file on your own company if you purchased collision coverage.
4. The insurance company will probably obtain the title to your vehicle
Many drivers assume that the insurance company pays the value of a totaled car, but that they retain ownership. Usually, the insurance company obtains the title to the vehicle and then sells it at a salvage yard, or auction. They keep the proceeds from the sale. You can negotiate for the salvage price of the vehicle and keep it though.
5. You don’t need a personal injury attorney to file a property damage claim – usually
People file their own property damage claims all the time. Sometimes they make mistakes that end up costing them money they should have received. One of the biggest obstacles is determining liability. Even when the person at-fault seems obvious, it can be a long, argumentative process.
It’s always a good idea to talk with a personal injury attorney before filing a property damage claim. Even if you don’t have any injuries initially, some injuries emerge days or even several weeks after the crash. There might be additional damages or extenuating circumstances that make a difference in your claim.
People often have property damage without having personal injuries. Rarely is the opposite true. The best personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve from both types of claims.
If you have been injured and suffered property damage from a vehicle accident, contact Bill Berenson Injury Law.