PROPERTY DAMAGE CLAIMS VERSUS PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS

For many motor vehicle accidents, there will be a property damage claim and a personal injury claim.  The property damage claim includes the cost of repair to your vehicle or the actual cash value of your vehicle prior to the accident if the car is beyond repair.  The property damage claim also includes rental car charges, as well as towing and storage fees.  Your personal injury claim is for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering that you endured as a result of the collision.  Almost always, the property damage claim will conclude first.

PROPERTY DAMAGE RELEASE

You will likely be able to settle your property damage claim on your own without affecting your personal injury claim.  It is important to note that when you settle your property damage claim, you will be asked to sign a Property Damage Release.  Read this document in its entirety.  Make sure that the release is for “Property Damage Only.”  If there is mention of “bodily injury” or “personal injury,” make sure your attorney reads the release before you sign it to make sure that you are not signing away your right to recover damages for your personal injury claim.  If you have any questions, contact us–you do not want to sign away your right to receive compensation for your injuries without knowing.

If your car cannot be repaired:

  • If the cost of repairs plus any supplemental claims (such as towing, storage fees, and rental car expenses) equals or exceeds 75% of the vehicle’s fair market value prior to the accident, then the insurance company will be required to pay you the actual cash value of your car less any liens against the vehicle.

If your car can be repaired:

  • The insurance company is responsible for the reasonable cost of repairs to your vehicle.  This may be a lower amount than the estimate that you receive from the repair facility of your choice.  If your repair facility gives you a higher estimate than the amount that the insurance company is willing to pay, have the repair facility contact the property damage directly before staring the repairs to try to work out the difference.
  • Many times, a repair facility can submit an additional bill to the insurance company if the repair exceed the estimate and the insurance company will usually pay for the extra charges.
  • We highly recommend that you use one of the insurance companies’ preferred body shops.  Therefore, if you have any problems with the repair shop, you can contact the insurance company to step it.  If you choose a repair facility that is not preferred by the insurance company, you may have little remedy if the repair shop does not complete the repairs on time or does a poor repair job.
  • Once your vehicle is repaired, you can make a diminution in value claim against the insurance company.  This is intended to compensate you for the decreased value that your car is worth after the accident versus what it would have been worth if you sold it prior to the accident.  Note that if you car was previously involved in an accident, insurance companies will frequently cite the previous accident as the cause in the decreased value of your car versus the current accident.



CONTACT US TO GUIDE YOU THROUGH NEXT STEPS

We can tell you traps to look out for so that you do not say anything to prejudice your claim. Do not forget that the insurance adjuster is looking for an excuse to deny your claim. Do not give them any ammunition to use against you, contact us at (919) 348-7727.