How to Get Your Car Repaired After an Accident
If you have been in an automobile accident, you not only have pain and disability from your injuries, you also have damage to your car.
If the accident was entirely the fault of the other driver, that driver’s insurance company is responsible for your repair costs. Unfortunately it often takes the other driver’s insurance company days or even weeks to evaluate the claim and accept responsibility. Therefore, you may not get your car repaired in a timely manner.
Making a claim on your own insurance is often the fastest way to get your car repaired. You may have to pay a deductible, but you should get this back from the other driver’s insurance company. Call your insurance company so they can have their adjuster inspect the car or so they can give you the name of an approved repair shop where you can get an estimate. If you know and trust another repair shop you should also get an estimate from them. The insurance company cannot force you to go to their repair shop, but they can make it more difficult for you if want to use a repair shop that they do not approve. If there is a large difference between the amounts of the estimates, have their mechanic explain the difference to you.
If the repair shop finds more damage while making repairs, ask the shop to call your insurance company so they can clear the extra cost before making the repairs.
You may also be responsible for any rental car expenses during the time your car is being repaired. Check to see if your insurance company covers the cost of renting a car. If you don’t have this coverage the other driver’s insurance company should repay you for this expense, although they may not pay you quickly. Insurance companies often argue about the amount of time a rental car is used, so be sure to follow up with the body shop to make sure your car is repaired as soon as possible.
If the repair costs for your car are more than the “fair market value” of your car, the insurance company will consider your car to be “totaled,” meaning a total loss. Sadly, sometimes the fair market value of your car does not take into account the fact that your car may have new tires, be exceptionally clean, or otherwise be in good condition. The insurance company will only pay the repair costs or the fair market value of your car, whichever is less. When your car is considered to be “totaled,” you can accept the loss value of your car less the salvage value and keep your car, or you can accept the total loss value and sign the car over to the insurance company.
Although your attorney usually only represents you for your bodily damages, at Koch and Brim, our accident injury attorneys can also help you get your car repaired or replaced. We may be able to get the other driver’s insurance company to pay for the repairs directly, without your insurance company being involved. Please call us for a free consultation.