What You Need to Know About Fixing Your Car After a Crash
If you were in a car or motorcycle crash with a negligent driver, you have a lot on your plate. One of your first priorities is likely to get your car fixed so that you can return to work and your other daily activities. Getting your car or motorcycle fixed after a crash can be more difficult and confusing than it seems. Below, we answer a few common questions about fixing your vehicle after a crash. Reach out to a dedicated San Francisco auto accident attorney if you’ve been in a car accident in the Bay Area.
Whose Insurance Should I Use?
After a crash for which you were not at fault, you may have the option to choose either your own insurance or the at-fault driver’s insurance to repair your vehicle. If you opted for collision coverage under your auto insurance policy, you can file a claim with your own insurance. The advantage of using your own insurance company is that the process will likely be much faster; they will simply send an adjuster, get an estimate of the cost, suggest one or more repair shops, and then pay for the repairs. The downside is that you will need to pay your deductible, which could be anywhere from $500 to $2,000. If you are not at fault your carrier may not charge you the deductible or will refund it later. If your car or bike is older then collision coverage may not be available.
You can also file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. If their insurance pays, you will not owe a deductible, but you will likely experience more push-back when it comes to assigning fault but not necessarily. Carriers all want to limit their payouts but you can usually get the repair work done if you stay tough regardless of cost. The insurance company will conduct a full investigation to establish fault and may ultimately disagree with your claims that the other driver caused the crash. This process could take a while but the carrier is required by law not to attempt to stall you out. Most just want to get the matter squared away. If you were at fault for the crash, you must rely on your own insurance.
Can I Choose My Own Auto Shop?
When you file a claim for auto repair, the insurance provider will likely suggest one or more auto repair shops in your area. You can choose to use their suggestions or use your own preferred shop. There are advantages to using the suggested businesses, however.
The suggested shops will already have a relationship with the insurance provider, which will make the process run much more smoothly. Additionally, the insurance carrier will likely set a value on the claim, limiting the cost of repairs to the estimates they receive from their own people. By law, the carrier cannot require you to choose a shop it wants. You have your choice. Property damage is something that can be included in any lawsuit but that takes longer than anything else.
Can I Choose Not to Repair My Car?
Even if your car can be fixed, there may be reasons why you’d prefer to abandon that vehicle and get a new one. The accident may have left permanent, ugly cosmetic damage, for example, or your car may be on its last legs. In lieu of obtaining the repairs, you can ask the insurer to send you their estimate of the cost of repairs instead. You could even take the money and get someone you know to fix the car more cheaply if you have someone available. If you do forego repairs, however, your insurer may exclude the damaged part of your car from coverage in the future.
What Happens if the Car is Totaled?
If your car is totaled, meaning that the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the vehicle, the insurance company may offer to just buy your car. They will generate an estimate of the fair market value of the vehicle. You can choose to reject their offer in order to negotiate a better price, or you can accept their offer.
What if the Vehicle Will Be Evidence in Your Claim?
Many times your vehicle will be part of the evidence necessary to prove fault and damages. Paint transfers, areas of damage, and crush profile of a damaged car, truck or motorcycle may prove direction of travel and vectors of force of vehicles prior to collision. In this case, we try to get the damaged vehicle photographed not just for exterior damage but for frame damage, suspension or axle damage, etc. There may be issues of brake failure or a defect. In that case, the vehicle may have to be preserved as evidence for use in accident reconstruction and in assessing fault.
If you have been injured due to a negligent driver in California, contact William E. Weiss for a free consultation at 415-362-6765 ext. 157 or preferably my cell at 415-235-7060. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.