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Holland & Usry, P.A.

What do I do about fixing or replacing my vehicle after an accident?

That’s actually two questions. Welcome to the often-complicated world of auto insurance, where you’ll learn first-hand how hard insurance companies can be when you attempt to use their product as intended.

Here’s how a car, truck, or motorcycle accident property damage claim breaks down:

Which Insurance Do You File With?

You can file your property damage claim with your own auto insurance company or the at-fault driver’s. The biggest consideration here is, filing with your own company might get it done faster because you’re their customer. But your recovery may be limited by your policy.

Also, you’ll probably have to pay a deductible, meaning an amount insurance doesn’t cover. It’s usually $500 or so.

Your policy may have other limits on your recovery. Ask your insurance agent.

If you file with the at-fault driver’s insurance, you can expect to deal with an adjuster who’s not on your side. Here’s more on him, including whether you should contact an attorney before speaking with him and how to outwit adjusters and their tricks. For the most part, insurance companies usually handle property damage claims pretty fairly without the need of a lawyer—but don’t count on that for your injury case.

What Will a Property Damage Settlement Recover?

This is a list of items you might get if you make a claim against the at-fault driver:

  • Repairs. If your car is repairable, you can recover the value of repairs, even if you don’t get them. But you need at least an estimate of the cost, done by a qualified mechanic. 
  • Vehicle replacement. If your vehicle is “totaled,” meaning totally destroyed or repairs exceed its fair market value, you can recover the fair market value of the vehicle on the date of the crash. A good source for estimates is Kelley Blue Book.
  • Loss of use. This is compensation for the time you were deprived of the vehicle’s use while it was repaired or replaced. A good estimate of this is the cost of renting the same or similar vehicle. You might recover this even if you didn’t actually rent a car, or you borrowed someone else’s for free.
  • Depreciation. This is for the reduction in fair market value after repairs. If your vehicle is in as good condition as before the crash, you don’t qualify for this.
  • Punitive damages, in rare cases. This recovery is reserved for some of the worst behavior, usually criminal. If your car got wrecked by a DUI driver, you might qualify for punitive damages. But you can expect a big fight over it and you’ll likely need a lawyer to give you the best shot at obtaining them. We handle these cases differently than ordinary crash cases. Contact us by email, live chat, or calling (888) 230-1841 or (864) 582-0416 to find out more.

If you’ve been involved in a serious accident, handling the property damage aspect may be the easiest part of your case. If you are overwhelmed with your injuries or the idea of handling the insurance company, you don’t have to go it alone. Send us an email or start a live chat right where you are so we can start answering your questions and point you in the right direction.

 

Rob Usry
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Rob is a South Carolina personal injury and criminal defense lawyer.

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