After Getting Your Car Accident Damage Estimates – What Can You Do?

Luckily, many car accidents occur without serious physical injuries to those involved. When a person has been in that type of crash, usually the most pressing issue on his or her mind is: how do I get my car fixed? That question can have many answers. The first thing to consider is whether or not you even have comprehensive collision coverage on your vehicle. Working through these things with an attorney can help you weather the storm. In Utah, this type of coverage is not required. That means that some drivers will be unable to get their car fixed by their own insurance company. That leads us to the next issue.

car accident lawyer las vegas nv
Photo Credit: Patrick McKnight

Fault.

 Usually the first question everyone should be asking after an accident is: who was at fault? If you did not cause the accident, you will be able to go through the at fault party’s insurance for your claims.

Going through the at-fault driver’s insurance.

If you contact the at-fault driver’s insurance and file a claim on their liability policy, you will not have to pay a deductible. You will also not have to file a claim on your own policy and may avoid the possibility of a future increase in premiums. Unfortunately, going through the adverse insurance can take an awfully long time because they will not do anything until they can determine fault. You would think that determining fault would not take long after most accidents, you’d be wrong. They will delay longer than you would ever think is practical.

Going through your own insurance.

This is typically the best path to take. Most of us don’t realize that after fault is determined, your insurance provider will be reimbursed anyway and you will then be reimbursed your deductible. Having to pay the deductible upfront is the biggest downfall to going through your own insurance. When you have rental car coverage on your own policy, this decision can become somewhat of a no brainer.

Getting the repair done.

Your insurance adjustor may set up a time to see your car so he can draw up an estimate himself. If this happens, keep in mind that you can also take it to your own shop to get your own estimate and negotiate for the higher one. If your insurance provider does not have a local adjustor they will likely send you to a preferred body shop or even have you take it to multiple shops so they can pay you the amount of the lowest estimate. Just make sure that you trust the shop and your shop agrees that they can do the repair at a good quality for that amount.

When the estimate gets to be more than your car’s fair market value, your car will be considered “totaled.” That gives you two choices. You can either sell your damaged car to the insurance company for “fair market value.” Or, you can deduct the salvage amount from the fair market value and keep the damaged car. Remember that fair market value is based on how your car would sell in your geographical region and that amount can be negotiated.

Was anyone hurt?

Finally, keep in mind that if anyone was hurt in the accident, the car becomes the least of your worries. The bodily injury claim is extremely more complex to deal with. You will likely need the assistance of a good car-accident attorney.

 

This article is offered only for general information and educational purposes.  It is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion.  You should not act or rely on any information contained in this article without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

When to Offer a Compromise in a Car Accident Law Suit?

Sometime people just cannot agree on a given issue. The court system is the last ditch way that we have in the United States to force a resolution and solve a problem. The court system can solve disputes because the orders of the court must be followed. If a party won’t pay a judgment, the court can issue a lien on their property, or even garnish their wages. But the court is a last ditch effort for a reason. It takes a long time, and it’s expensive. If two parties can ever agree on a reasonable solution without court, they should. Because a car accident can be one of the most significant events of your life, reaching a good outcome is very important. That is why it is often that injury victims have trouble agreeing with insurance companies as to settlement amounts. If you or a loved one is having trouble reaching a reasonable settlement, you can consider mediation, arbitration, or litigation to involve a third party to help get the conflict resolved. An experienced personal injury attorney who understands the law can help frame your argument into a persuasive one. If you have attempted to reach a settlement, and cannot, you should likely hire an attorney. Most people find that hiring an attorney from the get-go, will add teeth to their case and therefore will add a great deal of value to their claim.

offering a hand shake
Source Photo Credits: Richard North
Keep in mind that even after hiring an attorney, only the injured party has the ultimate right to either accept or reject a settlement offer. The advantage the attorney gives you is that they will know how much your claim is truly worth. Its difficult to know whether or not an offer is good if you have no idea how much your commodity is actually worth. Imagine trying to sell a car without researching values online or comparing it to what other cars are going for. That transaction will likely not go well. If you do choose to go it alone, remember that mediation and arbitration are options to explore before formal litigation. They are quicker, and cheaper, but they are not binding, you may end up in litigation in the end anyway.

Negotiation is an art, it takes a lot of practice, know the process by which the insurance company is valuing your claim to get their number. Know how to justify your own number. Once you have gone through that process, and you feel that you have truly gotten to the insurance company’s highest possible offer, you now have a decision to make. Keep the following in mind as you do that:

  1. Be positive that you have truly arrived at the highest offer available.
  2. Do not accept the first offer on the table.
  3. Counteroffer numbers that are much higher than a number you will settle for.
  4. Make sure that their number has moved up considerably from the original offer.
  5. Ask questions like, “is that the highest number you are authorized to offer to avoid litigation?”

Keep in mind that time is money. If you get an offer that is close to what you think is fair. Take it. If you know all the applicable laws, you document everything well, you represent your interests persuasively and you are a master negotiator, you may be able to accept a settlement offer without feeling like you were hustled. If you would like to have all those things done for you, while ending up with more money in your pocket, you may want to set up a free consultation with an attorney who specializes in this field.

 

This article is offered only for general information and educational purposes.  It is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion.  You should not act or rely on any information contained in this article without first seeking the advice of an attorney.