Your car was an investment and an escape and a mode of transportation. If you’re the victim of an accident, someone needs to fix it!
This chapter covers
If you have collision insurance
If you don’t have collision insurance
Damage to valuables inside and on the car
If You Have Collision Insurance
If You Have Collision Insurance
Let’s say you’ve been in an accident and your car is in a shop or a tow yard. You’re trying to recover from the injuries you suffered in the accident so you have little time to deal with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Therefore, if you have collision insurance, use it!
Here’s why: Typically, victims get push-back from the at-fault driver’s insurance company when they ask about car repairs. Yes, it’s ultimately their responsibility to take care of your car, but – as with all elements of the accident – they will take their time in resolving the details. In the meantime, because you already purchased collision insurance, someone could be working on your car.
Your own insurance company has the duty to resolve your claim as quickly as possible and it is their duty to deal fairly with you. In the end, they will probably get their money back from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, anyway.
Bottom line: Don’t feel bad about using your own collision insurance because the process is generally quicker.
If You Don’t Have Collision Insurance
If you don’t have collision insurance, you do have to deal with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You will have to acquire the police report, tell the company where the car is, get the car released to a repair shop, get an estimate of damages, and more. (Some personal injury attorneys handle this for free if they are already handling your case. Be sure to ask.)
Sometimes, victims want to keep their car even if it’s totaled. You can do this provided you are willing to take a reduction in the payment that the insurance company offers. For example, if the insurance company says that your car is worth $11,000, but you want to keep it, they can agree to pay you $11,000 minus the salvage value of the car.
Damage to Valuables Inside and on Your Car
People tend to travel with a lot of valuables inside or on their cars, including coats, sunglasses, phones, computers, bike racks and car seats. If you’re the victim in an accident, the other driver’s insurance company is responsible for damage to or loss of that property.
In order to receive reimbursement for your property, you will have to prove its value. You will also have to surrender the damaged pieces. (And again, some personal injury attorneys will handle this for free if they are already handling your case.)
If you have collision insurance, it may or may not cover damage to or loss of your valuables. Check your policy. This is yet another reason to purchase as much insurance as you can afford.
Consider this example from the O’Sullivan Law files:
Jennifer was driving her car and was hit head-on by a negligent driver. She broke both wrists and, in the process, her $25,000 engagement ring flew off her finger and was never recovered. The at-fault driver’s insurance company balked at the value and offered Jennifer significantly less. Jennifer and her fiancée hired the O’Sullivan Law Firm and we were able to help her recover the full value of the ring, in addition to other damages that she was due.