Whether you own a brand-new SUV, a well-used sedan, or any other type of car, after a car accident you might need to get the car fixed or replaced. The question of who pays for those repairs depends upon who is responsible, and the type of insurance involved. If you caused the accident, then you can be paid from your own insurance carrier (provided you bought the right insurance), or you can pay for the damages out-of-pocket. If someone else crashed into you, then generally, the insurance company for the responsible party pays for your property damage. However, if you have good coverage, your insurance company may pay first and then get the money back from the responsible party.
If it’s clear who’s at fault, you should get paid fairly quickly. If there’s a dispute about who caused the car accident, then you may have to wait until the case is resolved. It’s always best to consult with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible.
My car has damage: what do I do?
Right after a crash, make sure to call the police. The police report will be an important part of your claim, because it can help prove that you were not to blame. It also describes the circumstances of the collision, as well as any details about the crash site. When a crash damages your car, you should take pictures of your vehicle as well. You should also take pictures of the damage to any other vehicles and the accident scene.
After the police have been called, there are three “steps” when it comes to the insurance company:
- The first step is to notify your own insurance company that an accident occurred. Make sure to exchange information with the other driver, but do not talk to the other driver’s insurance agent. Your agent will instruct you where you can take your car for repairs. (You should be able to take the car to the repair shop of your choice.) If your car isn’t drivable, they’ll arrange to have it towed to a repair shop.
- The estimate and repair. If your car can be fixed and the value to fix it is less than the value of the car, then the car repair shop will prepare an estimate. The shop and the claims adjustor who will be paying the bill will then normally negotiate an agreed price to fix the car. If the agreed price meets your approval, then the car will be fixed for the negotiated price.
- Unrepairable cars. If your car was totaled – the cost to fix it is more than it’s worth – then you are entitled to claim the value of the car. You attorney can explain that value is normally based on standardized values (such as Kelly Blue Book values) depending on the type of car, the mileage, and the condition before the accident. Sometimes, the value must be negotiated between your lawyer and the insurance adjustor – especially if the car was unique in any way.
If there were any items of value in the car or the trunk of the car, you have the right to claim compensation for their value in addition the vehicle damage.
Additional considerations in property damage cases
There are some exceptions and complications when a car accident causes property damage.
In Tennessee, drivers are required to have $15,000 in property damage insurance. If the driver who struck you didn’t have insurance, you can make an uninsured/underinsured claim through your own insurance company.
Generally, whichever insurance carrier covers the damage to the vehicle should also pay for the cost of a rental car until the car can be repaired or until a payment is made for total loss.
You generally have the right to insist that the parts used to fix the car be original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.
If your car was struck while it was parked, and the identity of the car owner/driver can’t be determined, you still have the right to request your own insurance carrier pay for the car damages if your policy covers them.
If you are in a car accident, the best thing you can do is call an experienced Sevierville car crash lawyer as soon as possible. There are a lot of little details that can affect your rights and the amount of any recovery. At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, we fight to get full compensation for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, property damages, and all other legal damages. For help now, call us at (865) 428-8780 or fill out our contact form. We represent clients in Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the surrounding areas.