Handling a property damage claim when involved in a motor vehicle accident
Usually, victims of motor vehicle accidents can work with the defendant insurance company concerning their property damage (PD) on their own when liability is not in question. It’s one of the less contentious aspects of dealing with the insurance company. That’s why most personal injury attorneys don’t need to get involved with that process.
If you are ever involved in a motor vehicle accident, there are some things you should know about the PD process.
What does property damage include and what is involved with settling a PD claim?
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, anything that you own, glasses, computer, etc., which has been damaged or destroyed is eligible for reimbursement compensation or repair. However, for the purposes of this article, what follows deals with questions that many of our clients (not the at-fault party) ask us.
Who pays for the damage my vehicle?The person who caused the car crash is responsible for paying for repairs to your car through their automobile insurance. There are two instances where you might have to use your own insurance: one is if the tortfeasor does not have any insurance, and the second is if their insurance isn’t sufficient to make all the repairs needed to your car. In the first scenario, you hopefully carry Un-Insured insurance, and in the second, you hopefully carry Under-Insured insurance.
What should I do once the insurance company fixes my car, but I find it still needs more repairs? If you discover additional work is needed to repair your vehicle from the car wreck, call the insurance company and tell them. They will need to give you the okay to take the vehicle back to the repair shop. The shop will then assess the additional damage to make sure it was caused by the accident, and if it is, they will inform the insurance company, get their approval and then make the additional repairs.
My car is not repairable. What happens next?If your car is a total loss, you will usually be paid the fair market value of your car, which is usually the resale value of your car within your zip code area.
My car was a total loss, but I still owe money on it. What should I do?It’s not all that unusual for a victim of an automobile crash to still owe money on their car after it is totaled. That happens when the resale value doesn’t cover what you still owe. This is called being upside-down on your payments. The only remedy for this dilemma is to carry “gap” insurance. It will pay the difference between what you are paid for your now-totaled car and what you still owe on it. We highly recommend that you carry gap insurance, if you can afford it.
What do I do since I don’t have collision insurance and the policy of the person who caused my accident doesn’t carry enough to repair my car?This could present a real problem. If your car repair bill is $15,000 and there is only $10,000 worth of property damage insurance available, you will be stuck with the rest of the bill. That is why we also highly recommend that you always carry collision insurance on your vehicle.
If you are our client for a personal injury claim, we will do all we can to facilitate the handling of your property damage claim. However, if you are not our client, should you have any questions about your PD claim, it’s best to call your own insurance company for advice.
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If you have any questions about this topic or any other questions related to personal injury law, please call us at 920-725-8464, or toll free at 1-800-529-1552. Our personal injury consultations are always free.
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