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Steps In Property Damage Claim

How Much Do I Get For My Vehicle?

You are entitled to the “Fair Market Value” of the car that was damaged in the accident.  Fair Market Value is what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller for the car in its condition immediately before the accident. Several factors are considered to make this determination, including the year and make of the vehicle, mileage, previous damage and general condition of the car/truck prior to the accident.

It’s very important to keep in mind that Fair Market Value is not the same as Replacement Cost. The amount of your Loan is never a factor when determining Fair Market Value for your property damage.

There are various sources of information to help determine Fair Market Value, such as, Kelly Blue Book, NADA Used Car Guide, used car lots, classified ads from local newspapers, auto trader magazines and computerized market guides of similar cars in your geographical area.

Who Pays to Fix My Car?

You can submit a claim for property damage compensation to the insurance company of the driver who was at fault for the accident. Unless there is question concerning liability, that company will pay for the damage to your vehicle and other property lost, destroyed or damaged in the accident. When you do this, be very careful that any release you sign pertains only to property damage, and does not affect any injury claim you may have. It is advisable to have an attorney review any release document or settlement check before signing or cashing.

Alternatively, you may submit a claim to your own insurance carrier for the damage to your vehicle. You can do this only if the policy includes “collision” coverage on the vehicle.

The advantage of having your insurance company pay a property damage claim is that it may pay this claim faster than the wrongdoer’s insurance company. If your own insurance company pays the claim, it may be reimbursed or subrogated at a later time by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

It may be necessary to file a claim with your own insurance company under the following circumstances:

  • The accident was with a hit-and-run driver.
  • The insurance coverage of the person at fault is not enough to cover your damages.
  • The at-fault driver had no insurance coverage.
  • The at-fault insurance company is not accepting liability.

Even if you settle with your own insurance company, you can still seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance for any deductibles or other uncovered equipment or property damaged or destroyed in the accident.

How to determine if the Car is Repairable or a Total Loss?

The fair market value of a vehicle is its value immediately before the accident. The salvage value is its value immediately after the accident.

A vehicle is considered a total loss if the repair cost PLUS salvage value is more than its fair market value. The estimated cost of a rental car may also be calculated into this equation. If the vehicle is not a total loss by this standard, then the insurance company will generally pay to have your car repaired.

The insurance company usually will obtain bids from auto wrecking companies that want to buy your car for its scrap value. If your car is considered a total loss, you may be able to buy back the salvage. The salvage value of your car will be deducted from the market value of your car. In that event, you may need to apply for a salvage title from your state’s motor vehicle department.

How is the Cost to Repair a Vehicle Determined?

The at-fault party must pay for all reasonable and necessary repairs to your vehicle, if it is not a total loss. The insurance company may request that you drive your car to their repair shop to obtain an estimate of damage. If your vehicle was badly damaged, the insurance will usually send an adjuster to inspect your vehicle at its location. You must provide any necessary information that they request.

You should not necessarily accept their estimates, but should obtain up to three different estimates on your own. You may get your car repaired at the repair facility of your choice; you cannot be required to have repairs made at any particular shop. However, do not begin repairs until the insurance company has completed its inspection.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, your time to report the injury and make a claim is very limited. Houston car accident attorney, Charles J. Argento will fight hard for you to get the maximum cash and benefits you deserve. Charles J. Argento will take care of your property damage claim at no charge when we represent you on your personal injury claim.

Contact the law office of Houston Car Accident Attorney, Charles J. Argento for a free consultation at (713)822-5050. There is no obligation and all cases are taken on contingency, meaning there are no fees until we recover a settlement in your favor.


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