How To Get Paid for Car Accident Damage
UPDATED: June 19, 2018
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The property damage after a car accident can be relatively easy to calculate, but it is important that you take your time and make sure you know how to get the full value of your damages. You may file a claim for car accident damage to the following:
- Car repairs and replacement
- Vehicle towing expenses
- Cost of the rental car
- Any upgrades you installed in your vehicle such as an MP3 player or speaker system. After a collision, calculate all the damage caused by the car accident and include in your insurance claim the full value of your property.
How to Collect Insurance for Property Damage after a Car Accident
When there is car accident damage to your property, you will need to take the following steps:
- Take immediate action after the car accident to properly document the event.
- Provide a complete list of all property that was damaged, including features to the car
- Get a repair estimate (or two) for the damage to the vehicle. Make sure you follow any rules your insurance company has about getting repair estimates!
- Provide pictures of the damage to all the property that you are claiming was damaged
- Provide accurate bills of all repairs done to the car. Make sure your mechanic notes if the parts were new or used, were installed to repair damage caused by the accident, and properly lists the costs of the materials and the repairs. Insurance adjusters check your repair bills carefully, and can deny a claim if there are inaccuracies
- Provide receipts for any costs you paid as a result of the car accident such as towing bills, car rental arrangements, alternate transportation, and any other out of pocket expenses that you paid before your car was fully repaired.
- Calculate and document the value of any property that is damaged beyond repair
Once you have set the value of your damaged property and prepared proper documentation for the insurance adjuster you can file the car accident claim. Be prepared to defend any value you claim, and provide support for any loss you allege to have incurred!
Getting the Car's Fair Market Value
If your repair estimate is more than the car's fair market value, then the vehicle is considered a total loss. At that point, the insurance company has to pay you the fair market value or the actual cash value (ACV) of the vehicle. The actual cash value of automobile takes into consideration any wear and tear or depreciation that reduce the value of the vehicle. The more wear and tear on a vehicle, the less the car's fair market value will be. If your car is considered a total loss, be sure to note the condition you kept it in so that you get the value you deserve.
Make sure that the insurance company is giving you every penny you deserve, and provide documents proving your car's fair market value. Review a site like Edmunds.com or kellybluebook.com for your car's fair market value. These sites can be a good starting point if you properly estimate the condition your car was in prior to the accident. You can also check sale ads in the newspaper and online to estimate the sale price of similar cars that are the same year, make and model. When you determine the condition and value of your car, you will need to provide documents to support your claim. Recent pictures of the car and its interior, an accurate list of any maintenance and repairs done to the car, and the source of your car's fair market value estimate are critical to provide. Because the adjuster will typically offer less than what you think the car is worth, providing adequate documentation of the car's fair market value is critical to your claim.
Additional Property Damaged in a Car Accident
If you had personal property, such as eye glasses, clothes, watches, or anything in the car or the trunk, then you may be able to file a claim on a homeowners or rental insurance policy for that damage. Typically, these items are not covered by an auto insurance policy.
If the car accident was not your fault, then you may include the cost of your personal property that was damaged in a lawsuit against the party responsible for the damage. Consult with an experienced attorney for a full list of any damages you can include in a car accident lawsuit.
Finalizing your Car Accident Damage Settlement
If you are able to work out a fair car insurance settlement with your insurer, you need to know what happens after you finalize the deal. Any settlement check paid to you for property damage should have "property damage settlement only" or something referring to the fact that the monies represent settlement only for the property damage portion of the car accident damages. Do not sign any release that has "general release" written on the form. Doing so could negate you claiming any further car accident damages such as your still pending medical claim.
If you are unable to come to an agreement with your company about the amount owed you for accident damage, you may need to discuss your claim with an attorney. A car accident attorney would know the laws in your state with regard to vehicle repair, total loss settlement and injury claims. Discussing your car accident property damage claim with an attorney could help you get the money you deserve, particularly when the insurance company is resisting. Most consultations with an attorney are free, so take advantage of an attorney's services if you are struggling to agree on a settlement amount.