When it comes to a car accident, most people think about injuries. Were the parties injured? Will there be ongoing impacts of those injuries? And rightfully so–personal injury after an accident is a frightening reality, and can dramatically impact peoples’ lives. What many people don’t consider is property damage.
Even if you walked away from the wreck, what are you supposed to do to recover the loss of your vehicle or the items within it?
If you’ve been in a car accident that involved property damage, you’re probably wondering what to do next. How do you get compensation for that damage? Are you on your own to buy a new car or replace your belongings?
In this post, we’ll discuss the reasons that dealing with property damage is so frustrating, and also how to navigate the after-effects of your car accident.
Let’s dive in.
Can You Fix Damaged Property?
After a car accident, you have two primary options regarding property damage:
- You can have your property repaired (if repair is possible).
- The insurance adjuster can deem your property (likely a vehicle, in this case) a total loss.
If repairs are possible, you’ll also have to navigate the repair process. You’ll have to find a body shop (or work with a preferred body shop suggested by the insurance adjuster) to conduct the repairs.
Are you doing business with a preferred body shop suggested by your adjuster? Be sure to check the Google reviews for the shop. Some clients report very poor outcomes after working with preferred body shops.
As you communicate with the body shop, keep copies of all quotes, scope of work documents, and receipts provided. These documents are critical for your own records. They’ll also help ensure you get adequate reimbursement for the repair costs.
What if Your Car is Totaled?
When it comes to deciding whether a car is a total loss, it’s not up to the owner of the vehicle. In fact, the insurance company decides whether a vehicle is a total loss.
Typically, a “totaled” car is defined as one that will cost more than 80% of the car’s fair market value to repair.
If your car is totaled, the adjuster will provide you with a report that compares your car’s values to 8-10 vehicles. It will also take an average of the values of those vehicles to determine the fair market value of the totaled car.
Usually, the insurance company will issue you a payout for the value of your totaled car. If you have questions about this process or disagree with the insurance company’s assessment, hire an attorney immediately.
Will Your Insurance Cover a Rental car?
The reason you own a car is to get around. So what should you do while your car is in for repairs? Usually, the insurance company of the guilty party should provide you with a rental vehicle fairly quickly.
The problem, however, is that adjusters can take lots of time to “investigate” a claim. This ultimately leads to delays in liability determination and can leave you without a car.
If that’s the case, be sure to also double-check your own insurance policy. If you have rental coverage on your policy, you may have to pay for the rental out-of-pocket and then submit the receipt to the adjuster for reimbursement.
Help Handling Your Property Damage Claim
If you’re navigating a property damage claim, remember that dealing with insurance adjusters requires firm communication.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Use emails to communicate with insurance adjusters so you have a written record of the communications.
- Keep a written record of every time you reach out to the insurance company or adjuster.
- If you do not receive a return call or returned email from the adjuster you’re communicating with, follow up with the adjuster’s supervisor via email and phone.
- If you’re using a rental car while your claim is processed, stay in contact with the rental company. This allows you to stay abreast of charges, return date, and the ongoing rental bill and requirements. Keep physical copies of all rental documents to present to your insurance company later.
- Was your vehicle towed after the accident? Is it currently in a facility that charges storage fees? If so, work with the adjuster to have your vehicle moved to a free facility, since excessive storage fees can diminish your property damage settlement.
It can be overwhelming to navigate a property damage claim. Many victims are also surprised by how much time it takes. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t always have your best interests in mind. They may do everything they can to avoid paying your claim. While staying firm and consistent can help, it’s also smart to secure legal counsel to guide you through the process.
When Should You Hire an Attorney?
If you’ve been in an accident where your property was damaged, hiring a skilled personal injury attorney that has experience in navigating property damage and helping accident victims is a wise choice. After all, your items matter to you, and you deserve to have them repaired or replaced so you can get life back to normal.
Navigating a property damage claim can be complex, and you may need the help of an experienced lawyer. An attorney will work with you to understand the ins and outs of your property damage liability insurance. Our team will also help you learn how to navigate a property damage case vs. a personal injury case, since the two are very different.
Here at Ward & Barnes, we can help you protect your best interests throughout your property damage claim.
Our team of skilled attorneys will work with you to navigate your property damage claim. We’ll find a solution and a settlement that works well for you. Whether that means negotiating for the repair of your vehicle or securing a payout to replace your vehicle and other damaged items, we’re here for you.
Contact us today to learn more about our services, or to schedule your consultation.