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How To Get Paid for Car Accident Damage

UPDATED: July 13, 2020

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It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident law decisions. Finding trusted and reliable legal advice should be easy. This doesn't influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

The least you need to know...

  • How much you may be able to get paid for car accident damage could depend on fault in the accident.
  • Collecting for damages may also depend on insurance coverage.
  • Insurance adjusters will typically try to pay as little as possible.

Going through a car accident is awful. The repairs, the inconvenience of rentals or replacing your vehicle, and the potential injuries and other trauma. 

What could make that even worse?

How about not recovering as much as possible for the wreck? How to get paid for car accident damage may not be your first concern, but it's often one of the most important ones.

This article will outline all the different things you need to know about getting the most recovery after a wreck, whether that's from your insurance, the other driver's insurance, or in court. We'll also cover some frequently asked questions about how to get the most money from a car accident and their car accident claim value .

If you do think that you might need to consult with a car accident attorney, you can begin your search by entering your ZIP code in our search tool above.

Frequently Asked Questions: Recovering for Car Accident Damage

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.

Below are some common questions and answers about being paid for car accident damage.

How do you get money from a car accident injury?

Recovering for your injury depends on a few things. Who was at fault for the car accident may dictate whose insurance is supposed to cover your injury. If your injuries are covered by an insurance policy (either your own PIP or the other driver's liability insurance), you should be able to file a claim.

In some instances, you may have to file for reimbursement, but your covered injuries should be paid for up to the limits of the policy involved. You may be offered a settlement by an insurance adjuster. Consider not only current but also future expenses related to your injury when you decide if the offer is reasonable.

How much do insurance companies pay for injuries?

The maximum amount an insurance company will pay for injuries is dictated by the limit on the policy. Some states have minimum coverage amounts as low as $10,000.

That's how much an insurance company could pay, but remember that dealing with auto insurance claim adjusters can be tricky because they are employed by the company. They are required to operate in good faith, but they also aren't doing their job if they don't try to pay as little as necessary.

How much do you get paid from a car accident?

Your recovery should be enough to put you in the same state as you would be in had the accident never happened. This means you should be able to get fully reimbursed for expenses (damage to your car, medical care, lost work) and also be compensated for any pain and suffering experienced.

How much will I get for pain and suffering from a car accident?

Trying to figure out how much pain and suffering is worth in a car accident can be much harder than figuring out other costs.

Obviously, pain and suffering compensation is going to vary from case to case. Generally, you won't be able to recover for pain and suffering without an accompanying injury. If there has been an injury, insurance companies will still want to pay you as little as possible.

Typically, a multiplier is applied to the damages that are easily calculated to account for pain and suffering. The multiplier is almost always between two and five and works like this. Say you have $3,000 in damage to your car and $7,000 in medical expenses. The insurance company may apply a multiplier of three (this is most common) and offer you $30,000.

If you pursue your claim through court, you could be awarded much more (or nothing at all).

How much money do you get from a car accident settlement?

The example above is of a settlement from the insurance company absent any sort of lawsuit. Typically these types of settlements follow the example of verifiable costs potentially multiplied for pain and suffering.

If you go to court, you could be awarded much more. Remember, though, that any amount beyond the policy limit may be very difficult to get. Many states also have caps on how much a jury can award a plaintiff. For example, the Tennessee Supreme Court has upheld the state's $750,000 cap. Some states are much lower.

How long do I have to repair my car after an accident?

The decision to repair or replace a car after an accident may not be up to you. If an insurance company is paying for the repairs, it can take two or more months for the repairs to be completed. In this circumstance, you may be asked to get estimates after the car accident and report them to the adjuster.

If you are simply getting a check to do the repairs to your car, though, there is no time limit. In fact, you can even decide not to repair the vehicle. If you decide to keep the money, though, know that your insurance company will not reimburse you for that repair again if you're in another accident.

How to get money from a car accident without a lawyer?

For most car accidents you shouldn't need a lawyer. The only time you need a lawyer would be when there's been a severe injury or the responsible party or their insurance won't offer a reasonable settlement.

It may be worthwhile to consult an attorney for major accidents, but any minor or very straightforward accident shouldn't require an attorney. 

When a car accident is not your fault, what to do may be consulting an attorney, though. Especially if fault is contested and you are being held responsible. In that circumstance, though, your insurance company should have an attorney who would help with the case so they can avoid paying for damages they shouldn't have to.

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 a car wreck 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 reduces 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 sites like Edmunds.com or Kelley Blue Book 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 eyeglasses, 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.

Bringing it All Together

As long as the accident wasn't your fault, you should be able to get paid for the damages that a car accident causes. Even if the accident was your fault, if you have collision insurance you will be able to have your car repaired.

It's important to keep track of all your expenses, lost wages, and medical bills as well as any repair costs. Don't forget that the insurance adjuster's job is to pay you as little as possible.

Did we answer all your questions about getting paid for car accident damage? 

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. You can begin your search for a car accident attorney by putting your ZIP code into our search tool below.

References:

  1. https://www.iii.org/automobile-financial-responsibility-laws-by-state
  2. https://www.wbir.com/article/news/local/tn-supreme-court-upholds-state-law-that-caps-certain-damages-awarded-by-juries/51-08169bc3-989c-446e-b606-58eedaa5e56f
  3. https://www.edmunds.com/
  4. https://www.kbb.com/

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