Fixing Your Property Damage After The Accident
One of the most pressing concerns after an accident is figuring out how to fix the property damage to your vehicle. Most people in this situation are very pressed for time. The days following an accident can be very stressful if you do not have a car, are injured, have no reliable means of transportation, and the at-fault insurance company won’t return your calls.
It is highly important that the at-fault party’s insurance information is obtained after the accident. Make sure to fully write down the policy number, name of the insured, vehicle, and insurance company. Sometimes this will be done for you by the police department responding to the scene. Once you have the policy information, you should do a Google search for that company’s claims department. You will likely have to open your own claim with a customer service representative. This is especially true if you are the first one to report the accident to the insurance company.
If the other party does not have insurance, you will use this same process but with your own insurance company instead of the at fault insurance company. If the insurance information for the other party is not known, or will not be known for some time, it is best to make a claim through your own insurance. You will be responsible for your property damage deductible, but fortunately it will be reimbursed to you if/when the other insurance company information surrogates your insurance company.
Once a claim has been opened, the insurance company will need to know if the vehicle was operable. If the vehicle is operable, then odds are that it was driven from the scene of the accident. The insurance company will send out a property damage adjuster to inspect your vehicle. From there, they will provide an estimate of how much it will be to get your car fixed. You will then be given a check for the amount to cover the damage and it will be up to you to decide where you will take to get it fixed. I always encourage clients to use the money from the insurance company to fix their cars, however the insurance company does not follow up to see how the funds were spent should you elect to not make the repairs.
If the vehicle is not operable, it was likely towed from the scene. You must remember where the vehicle was towed to so that you can tell the insurance company where it is. If not, you can always call the police department that wrote the police report and ask where they send their towed cars to. Generally, each municipality uses only one tow lot. This varies from place to place. If your car was not operable the insurance company will generally provide a rental to use while the extent of your damages are assessed.
You never know if the at fault party had insurance at the time of the accident. For this reason, it is best to protect yourself by purchasing comprehensive collision coverage under your own insurance policy. If you get your vehicle fixed by your own insurance company, they will more than likely resolve your case efficiently and effectively. Insurance carriers have good faith obligations to their insureds when resolving such disputes.
While there are certainly exceptions to this rule, it is usually a fairly easy process despite the amount of stress involved from not having a vehicle. As your attorney I will not directly represent you on the property damage portion of your claim. I will, however, be more than willing to advise you the best strategy to make sure you are back out on the road as soon as possible.