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Property Damage and Car Accidents

If you have been in a car accident, one of the issues you have to deal with is your car. Is it totaled, who is going to pay for it to be repaired, and what are you supposed to drive in the meantime? These questions arise commonly, and your insurance company tends to answer these questions in a manner that best suits them. The law provides you with specific rights that protect you and are designed to put you back to where you were financially just before the accident.

If you have been in a car accident,  one of the issues you have to deal with is your car.  Is it totaled, who is going to pay for it to be repaired, and what are you supposed to drive in the meantime?  These questions arise commonly, and your insurance company tends to answer these questions in a manner that best suits them.  The  law provides you with specific rights that protect you and are designed to put you back to where you were financially just before the accident.

YOUR CAR IS TOTALED

If your car is damaged, the first decision is whether it is a total loss or repairable.  The decision to total a car is generally based on a percentage formula.  For instance if it is going to cost $2,500 to repair the car, and it has a value of $2,800, it will generally be considered a total loss.  If your car is a total loss, you have a decision to make.  Do you want the money for the car,or do you want the car?

There are situations when your car is drivable, but will cost more to fix than it is worth.  In those situations you can get the value of the car less its  salvage value .  You should be aware that the title will reflect that the car is considered a total loss vehicle.

In situations where your car is totaled the insurance company will want to pay you the wholesale or “bluebook” price for the car.  The internet is your greatest tool in getting fair value for your car.  There are sites such as http://www.autotrader.com/ and http://www.carmax.com/ that allow you to search for your car and find out how much it is selling for.  Generally, I recommend that you do a search for cars within 100 miles of your location.  Make sure you put in the correct mileage and designation for your car (EX, LX etc.).  The law requires the insurance company to pay the fair market value of the car.   Thus, if you find three cars of the same year, make, model, and mileage as yours and they are all selling for $12,500 that sets the value.  Print off the results of your search and give them to the adjuster.  The key thing to remember is that you are entitled to the market value of your car.

RENTAL CAR

If your car is damaged or totaled you are going to need a car while you shop for a new one or yours is being repaired.  The first thing you should check is your policy.  Call your agent and see if you have coverage for a rental car.  If you do, check the terms ahead of time.  Find out how much they cover per day and how many days the policy provides for.  Most times, the at fault driver’s insurance company is not going to provide a rental car for you.  They are required to pay you for loss of use of your car.  Loss of use is not dependent on you getting a rental car.  If your car is not drivable, you are entitled to get paid for loss of use until it is repaired or until there is an offer to replace it.  Of course, you can’t leave your car sitting for six months and collect loss of use damages.  You need to get your car repaired or replaced in a reasonable period of time.

If you have questions about your rights, contact me at dgahnz@lawtoncates.com.

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