This article is from Joel Farar, a fellow personal injury lawyer.
If your injuries were minor resulting from a car accident, the most important thing on your mind is probably your vehicle. Even if your injuries were serious, you must think about your vehicle. Most people don’t have an option but to have a car to get to and from work, to get their families where they need to go, and to get to and from their other important obligations. For many people, not having a car is a life-changing issue that makes life difficult. You want to know how to get your car fixed, who is responsible for it, and what might happen in the meantime. There are many questions associated with your car after an accident, and knowing how the situation should unfold can be beneficial to accident victims.
Immediately Following the Accident
This is imperative. If you are involved in a car accident, you must call the police immediately. Take as many photos as you can, and be sure you speak to any witnesses that might have been present. The police are going to do their best to determine who is at-fault, and this is one of the most important aspects of the entire situation. The at-fault driver is the one whose insurance company pays for the damage to your car, your medical bills, and any other damages you might be entitled to if you live in a fault state. If you live in a no-fault state, this is not the case. However, it’s imperative you still call the police, file an accident report, and figure out who is at-fault.
If you have injuries, see a doctor. Even if you don’t, get checked out. You never know what kind of injuries you might have sustained that you’re unaware of. It’s better for your heath and your case if you have a doctor check you out for internal injuries or anything of that nature.
Now that the accident has occurred, your car is towed, and you’re home and recovering, it’s time to call insurance. If you live in a no-fault state, you’ll call your own. They are responsible for handling the repairs on your car even if the accident was not your fault. If you live in a fault-state, you’ll call the insurance company of the other driver. If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, you’ll call your own insurance company.
The first thing you must do is ask about a rental car. The other driver might not have a policy that cares for a rental car, but your own probably does. In this case, you’ll work with your own insurance company to get a rental. They’ll pay for it and seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s company. You might be required to pay a deductible if you go through your own insurance company, but you can seek that refund from the at-fault driver if you decide to file a lawsuit.
The insurance company is required to provide you with a rental car equivalent to what you were driving when you were in an accident. If you were in a minivan, you’ll get a minivan. If you were in an 8-passenger extra-long SUV, that’s what you’ll get. You are not going to end up with a vehicle that’s smaller than what you lost in the accident.
Your Car Repairs
Once you discuss the case with the insurance company handling the claim, you’ll have some options. Your car will be examined by an insurance adjuster. They will determine what all needs to be fixed, how much it will cost, or if your car is a total loss. If your car is fixable, the company will recommend a few mechanics they work with or you can ask to use your own. As long as you can prove the company is licensed and insured, most insurance companies won’t contest your choice. If your car is drivable and in your possession, you’ll deliver it to the repair shop. If it’s not, the insurance company will have it towed.
When it is repaired, you will pick it up and go home. You will not pay them anything, and you won’t really have any contact with them at all. The insurance company handles all of this and notifies you when you are able to pick up your car.
If your vehicle is considered a total loss, your car will not be repaired. It might not even come back to you. This is where things get a little sticky. If you owe more on the car than it’s worth according to fair market value, the insurance company will pay you fair market value. This could leave you with a car payment on a car you cannot even drive; and the insurance company might take the car and sell it for parts to recoup some of their loss.
If you have GAP insurance, that will cover the additional cost of the vehicle once fair market value is paid. If the car is worth more than you owe, you’ll pay it off and keep the rest to use as a down payment on a new car or whatever you see fit.
It’s not an easy process, but your car repairs will be handled as quickly as possible when you involved in an accident. It might take a few days to get the process started, but it will be handled by either your insurance company or the insurance company of the person who caused the accident.