One of the questions we hear the most from our clients right after they’ve been in an accident is, “What about my car?” Whether or not you sustained an injury in an accident, the frustration (and stress) of dealing with property damage and repairs can be a bit overwhelming. We can help you through the process of making a claim and getting a rental, and represent you should the insurance company refuses to compensate you fairly.
The rental vehicle
If your car is being repaired or has been declared a total loss (more on that in a bit), you may need a rental car or truck to get around. The money can come from one of three places:
- The negligent party’s insurance company, if the other driver has been deemed liable for the crash.
- Your insurance company, if you have renter’s insurance through your policy, or if you carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
- Your own pocket – at least, at first. You may be able entitled to reimbursement for those expenses.
No matter who is paying for the rental vehicle, it is your duty to work quickly to obtain an estimate for repairs or a claim for a total loss, and to cooperate with the insurance company when it comes to those expenses. In other words, if you are given a repair bill a week after the auto accident, you cannot simply drive your rental around and hold off on those repairs while you accrue “extra” costs or expenses.
Can I use my own repair shop after a car crash?
Probably. Depending on your policy and your insurance company, you may be required to have an insurance-approved mechanic look at your car or truck after a crash. It is a smart idea to get an estimate (or two) from another repair shop besides the one that will be paid by the insurance company so you can be sure you are getting the best deal for, and work done on, your vehicle.
That being said, you cannot shop around indefinitely, because, again, you do have a duty to mitigate damages.
Total loss and diminished value claims in Tennessee
If your vehicle is declared a total loss – either the repairs are too extensive to warrant the car being fixed, or the cost of those repairs is more than the value of your car or truck – the insurance company must pay you fair market value for your vehicle. Fair market value is what your vehicle would have sold for before the collision. Most insurance companies use the Kelley Blue Book or the Nada Guides to determine the car’s worth, though they may consider any recent offers you received if you were trying to sell your car or truck before the accident.
One important thing to note: if your car was relatively new and sustained substantial damage, its value will be diminished as a result of the accident. In certain situations, we may be able to make a diminished value claim for your vehicle. If so, we will work with an expert to help us prove that you are entitled to additional compensation.
At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, our first concern is for our clients’ safety – but we also know that the time after an auto accident can be stressful even when you are safe and sound. We help our clients throughout Tennessee secure their rentals and make their claims for damages. If the insurance company pushes back or refuses to pay what you are rightfully owed, our experienced Sevierville auto accident lawyers will fight for justice on your behalf. Please (865) 428-8780 or fill out our contact form. We proudly serve clients in Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge.
Attorney Bryan E. Delius was born and raised in Sevier County, TN. He founded Delius & McKenzie more than 20 years ago, after receiving his JD from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He is admitted in Tennessee and in several federal court systems. Learn more about Bryan E. Delius.