There could be many reasons why someone could use the help of a car accident lawyer, however, if the case only involves property damage, handing it yourself may be the way to go. This depends on whether or not the insurance carrier for the other driver admits responsibility.
Typically this would involve a rear end collision. In this case, the insurance carrier for the other driver is going to be responsible to pay for your property damage, and this includes repairing your vehicle and/or paying you the fair market value of your vehicle. It may also include the cost of a rental car and possibly other incidental damages. When I first started practicing car accident law, insurance carriers generally had self-serving ways to estimate your property damage and would try and low-ball on a settlement.
These days, particularly because of the information that can be gathered on the internet, most insurance carriers will provide a detailed and fair analysis of the value of your vehicle, based on the values of other cars like yours that are for sale or recently sold in the area where you live. They will provide you with a copy of the report or analysis. Again, these reports are usually so detailed that they come very close to estimating the true value of your vehicle.
Review your car accident report
You can take the time to review the report, and if you have any disagreements you can discuss them with the insurance company claims adjuster and explain why you think they are wrong. You and the claims adjuster may not agree on every point, but the idea is to try and agree on an amount that is fair.
Practically speaking, why pay a lawyer at a large hourly rate or percentage of your property damage claim, if you can do it yourself. If it’s going to cost $4000 to fix your car and a lawyer takes 33% of that, how are you going you get your vehicle fixed?
At Heslin Law Firm, we are interested in getting clients the maximum amount of money in their pocket. We don’t want to take fees for something that you can handle yourself. In fact, if we agree to represent you for injuries sustained as a result of your crash, in most cases, we will not charge you to obtain recovery of your property damage.
For those of you who have property damage claims only, we have been doing this for years, and are familiar with some issues that come up over and over again in property damage claims. Here is a list of some of the most common issues people have faced:
Obtaining a rental car when you are not at fault
If you are having a hard time obtaining a rental car through the other driver’s insurance company even though you aren’t at fault it could be because the other driver still has not given their version of the crash. Even in a straight forward case were it is obviously the other driver’s fault their insurance company is responsible for hearing their side of the story. If the company is not providing a rental car to you fast enough the fastest way to obtain a rental would be to either use your own insurance company, if your policy covers rentals, or pay out of pocket. After the other driver gives their version of the story and liability gets accepted you can get reimbursed.
Choosing which shop to get your car repaired at
Although it is more convenient and a lot quicker to get your car repaired at a shop that the insurance company has already approved of, it is not your only option. You have the right to choose whichever mechanic you feel will work best for you. The only exception is that the insurance company will only cover the amount that they feel is accurate with the damages. In order to get any additional work done that those mechanics feel is necessary they must first get approval from the insurance company that you are dealing with in order to ensure that they will be paid for their work.
In some situations the driver of the vehicle could be subjected to paying for storage chargers while the insurance company assesses whether or not they are liable for the damage done to your property. At this point you have two options: figure out whether or not the insurance company is willing to remove your vehicle from the tow lot that it is currently being stored at so the disabled vehicle will not accrue any additional charges, or if you have the ability to do so, pay off any additional charges that are accrued from the storage of your vehicle.
Dealing with a car financing company
In order for a company to pay for the salvage value on a totaled vehicle they must first get the title of the car transferred into their name. The insurance company will need to figure out the amount outstanding on the car loan and compensate the financial company for what is still owed on the current car loan. Once this is calculated the finance company will be sent a check for the interest still owed and after that you will be compensated with whatever is left over.
How long am I entitled to keep the rental car?
As long as everything goes smoothly you are entitled to stay in your rental car until your vehicle is finished being repaired or you are compensated for your totaled vehicle. Once you receive a check for your totaled vehicle you are expected to purchase a replacement vehicle. If it is deemed necessary, the insurance company might issue you an extension with the rental vehicle.
The rental they issued isn’t the same type of vehicle that I own
Although the insurance company is not required to give you the same exact vehicle that was damaged in the accident, they are required to give you a suitable replacement that functions the same way as the previous vehicle. If the damaged vehicle was a truck that you needed for work, the replacement must be a truck that is capable of doing the same things as your actual vehicle; they should not replace your truck with a compact car rental.
Receiving your deductible:
Unfortunately if you used your collision coverage for a little while you will not receive compensation for the deductible that you paid out of pocket. Once the other insurance company accepts liability you can ask your insurance company to retrieve the amount of your deductible from the other company, until then you have to just wait.
What you should have prepared before entering a claim court
While local laws can create a lot of variables in the way you pursue your claims case, there are a few basic pieces of information you should be prepared to present for your defense in court. You should always be prepared to argue for any claims of damage that you have presented, if the vehicle is totaled present the court with your own estimate of a fair market value for your property. Some great websites to help you estimate the value of your car include: KellyBlueBook or CarFax. These sites give easily accessible information about accidents and estimated values on used cars for the average consumer. Insurance companies will try and state that there has not been any loss to the vehicles value until it is sold for less than fair market value. To combat this argument, make sure you have a properly prepared lost value report which can be obtained from a certified vehicle appraiser.
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