Ask a Georgia Car Accident Attorney about Auto Damage
If you've been involved in a motor vehicle collision in Georgia and your vehicle sustained damage, you probably have questions about your legal rights. This page addresses common questions. If you don't find an answer you need, feel free to contact a lawyer at The Law Offices of Wayne Grant, P.C.
What is a property damage claim?
Whose insurance company is responsible for paying a property damage claim?
Who pays for towing and storage costs?
What is the value of my property damage claim?
Can I choose my own repair shop?
Does the insurance company have to pay for new parts?
My car already had some damage. What happens now?
The insurance company totaled my car, but the settlement was not enough to pay off my loan. What do I do?
What do I do for transportation if my car is totaled or being repaired?
Is it necessary to purchase insurance on the rental car?
Do I need a lawyer for a property damage claim?
If another driver hits your car, truck, motorcycle or other personal property, causing damage, whether repairable or not, you have a claim for damages against the person who caused the damage.
The insurance company for the party at fault pays for the property claim. You also have the option of submitting the claim through your own insurance company. In that case, your insurance company recovers the loss from the negligent party's insurance company.
If the other driver is uninsured and you have collision coverage, then your insurance company will pay the property damage claim and possibly attempt to recover the damages from the uninsured driver.
If there is no dispute as to who is at fault in the crash, the insurance company of the negligent driver usually pays to have the car towed and stored, if necessary. If the insurance carrier totals the car, they tow it to a salvage yard or free storage facility. If not, they tow it to the repair shop. However, if you refuse to allow the insurance company to move the car, you are then responsible for storage costs or the cost of having it towed to your home.
If the damage to your vehicle exceeds the fair market value, then you are entitled to that amount. "Fair market value" is the amount for which a car dealership or another person would buy and sell the same car. The make, model, accessory options, mileage and condition are all factors taken into consideration.
If the insurance company totals the car, but you want to keep the car, you can purchase the car back from the insurance company. The insurance adjuster deducts the salvage value from the settlement, and you keep the vehicle.
If you wish to keep the wrecked car, you may purchase it back from the insurance company for its salvage value. The insurance adjuster can deduct the salvage value from the settlement and you can keep the car.
If the insurance company does not total the car, you have a right to compensation for the reasonable cost of necessary repairs.
Of course, you always have that option. Keep in mind, however, that the estimate given by that repair shop might not be the estimate that determines the cost of the repairs.
You have the right to demand that only original manufacturer parts be used in the repair, but if the car is not new, refurbished or reconditioned parts can be used.
If the insurance company claims there is evidence of pre-existing body or mechanical problems, you can usually ask the repair shop to prove or disprove this. The insurance company usually takes the advice of a reputable repair shop.
The insurance company totaled my car, but the property damage settlement was not enough to pay off my loan. What do I do?
When you owe more money on the loan than the fair market value of the car, you are "upside down" on the loan. The insurance company is only obligated to settle the claim for the fair market value of the vehicle. You are still responsible for the remaining balance on the car loan unless your insurance policy has "gap coverage." Gap coverage covers the amount between the property damage settlement and the amount remaining on your car loan. If you don't have gap coverage, you can try to make up the difference through the personal injury claim, if there is one.
The insurance company of the at-fault driver should pay for a rental car. The rental vehicle should be comparable to your car. Generally, if your car is totaled, they allow a set number of days for you to purchase another car once the property damage settlement is made. The same holds if your car is in for repairs. Once the repair shop completes the repairs, the rental must be returned.
If the other driver is uninsured and you have rental insurance through your automobile insurance, your insurance company will pay for the rental. Again, it will be comparable to your car.
Please note that some insurance carriers require you to rent the vehicle and submit the bill for reimbursement.
The at-fault driver's insurance company does not have to pay for additional insurance, so if you purchase it from the car rental company, you just might bear the cost of that insurance. Call your insurance agent and ask if your policy covers you while driving a rental. Generally, it does.
Generally, no. Most insurance companies are fair in settling the property damage claim, and the fee for a lawyer to handle the claim does not make it worthwhile. On a cautionary note, if you have both a property damage claim and a personal injury claim stemming from the collision, do not discuss the personal injury claim with the adjuster or give any statements regarding the personal injury claim. You might damage the value of your personal injury claim without even realizing it.
If the insurance company happens to be extremely difficult in settling the property damage fairly and equitably, you should consult with an attorney at that time. Your auto wreck lawyer at The Law Offices of Wayne Grant, P.C., will be happy to assist you.
The Law Offices of Wayne Grant, P.C.
(866) 249-5513 or (404) 995-3955
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