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What Should I Do if My Vehicle is Damaged in a Car Accident?

Published on May 11, 2018 at 1:42 pm in Car Accidents.

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Consider this scenario: You’ve been involved in a car accident and your car was damaged by another vehicle. Now you’re getting the run-around from the insurance company.  You are not sure what to do and you don’t know if you’re getting a good deal.  This situation can be frustrating, upsetting, and can seem to drag on for days while you’re waiting for your car to fixed.  Below are some tips to consider when dealing with insurance adjustors when working out your property damage claim:

1) Check to see if you have collision coverage on your vehicle.

If so, then you can make a claim through your own insurance company and see what your insurance adjustor will offer you.  This was you can compare the quote you’re getting from the other insurance company against your own.  Your own insurance company may treat you better than the other driver’s insurance company.

Q:  Won’t this raise my insurance rates?

If you were not at fault in a rear-end car collision, or the other driver was cited and convicted for the accident, then your own insurance company cannot raise your car insurance rates because of this type of claim.  If you are having a dispute with your insurance company about a rate increase, tell them to consider 20 CSR 500-2.600 (a Missouri regulation governing insurance claims).  The law permits you to file a grievance or complaint with the Missouri Department of Insurance if you believe your rates were increased unlawfully.

Q:  What about my deductible?

You will have to pay your deductible if you make a claim through your own insurance (and are required to pay one under your policy).  However, your own insurance company can work to get that deductible back for you when it goes after the other driver’s insurance company for reimbursement. Talk with your adjustor and make sure your insurance company will work to get that deductible back for you through a process they call “subrogation”.

2)  Rentals:

If you are in a rental vehicle, then know that the insurance company may only pay for a certain number of days for you to have the vehicle.  Confirm with the car rental company and the insurance company about the number of days that you have your rental.  If you exceed those days, then you will be held responsible for the excess.

3)  Get multiple quotes.

There are numerous companies in Missouri, especially in Mid-Missouri, that fix damaged cars.  Make sure to check out reviews for these companies in advance, and make sure they are reputable.  Obtain three or four quotes and compare the costs, and submit those quotes to the insurance company.

4)  Totaled Car.

If your car is totaled and cannot be repaired, then the insurance company is required to pay you “fair market value” of the vehicle when the collision occurred..   The value they offer you may not be what you feel the true value is worth.  For example, you may have an old vehicle that was reliable and you cannot afford a newer car.  Unfortunately, the insurance company only has to pay you what the fair market value of the vehicle.  In these situations, make sure to get a number of quotes to show the insurance company that the car is more valuable than what they are offering you.  Check out Kelly Blue Book, NADA, ADP Autosource, and check with car dealers in the area.  If a car dealer is willing to write up a quote estimating the market value of the car, then that can be helpful in negotiations.

Side note:  If you just purchased your vehicle and are in a wreck, then you might think you will get the amount you paid for your vehicle.  You might point out that you owe more on the car than the insurance company is offering and you should get reimbursed what you currently owe.  Unfortunately, that’s very rarely the case.  Typically, the insurance company will point out that the “sticker price” is not the “fair market value” of the vehicle.  In other words, the money the dealership made from the markup of your purchase is not going to get reimbursed to you.  However, you should always check to see if you have “Gap” Insurance which will cover the Gap between what the insurer is paying you and what you still owe on the car.  If you bought Gap insurance, then you should be able to make a claim for the difference between what the insurer is offering you and what you still owe on the vehicle.

5)  Other damaged property.

Make sure you provide the insurance company adjustor with receipts and documents showing the value of things you purchased for the vehicle and which were damaged in the wreck.  For instance, if you bought a toolbox for your truck and the toolbox no longer opens, you should get compensated for that.  This would also include any property within the vehicle itself that might damaged in the wreck (laptops, phones, glasses, etc…)

6)  Filing a lawsuit.

If you think you have to file a lawsuit to get your money back, then know this:  You have to file suit against the other driver, not his insurance company.  ALSO – and this is very important – filing that lawsuit may affect your rights to a bodily injury claim.  Before you file suit, you should also seek the advice of legal counsel to make sure you are not affecting any rights you have under the law for full compensation.

There are a number of things to consider when dealing with a car damage claim.  Just remember to do your homework and get as much information as you can to show the fair market value of the car and the items you may have lost in the wreck. Handling a property damage claim can be frustrating and you may start to lose your patience when dealing with an insurance adjustor.  If you have problems and feel like you are not getting treated fairly by an insurance adjustor, then seek the guidance of an experienced car accident attorney.

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Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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