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Car Accident Property Damage Claims

Car damaged? Follow these tips to get it fixed quickly.

You have just been involved in a car accident. While you have been fortunate enough to walk away from the collision without injury, your car is now wrecked. If your vehicle has been damaged or totaled in an accident, the following tips can help you deal with your insurance company and get your car fixed and back on the road as quickly as possible.

Obtain a Damage Estimate

The first step toward getting your vehicle fixed is to promptly get an estimate of the damage. In many cases, your insurance company will have an adjuster travel to your vehicle and assess the cost of repairing your car. If your car is still in a drivable condition, you may be asked to drive your car to the nearest estimating facility.

In addition to your insurance adjuster’s estimate, it is important you receive a few additional estimates from third-party body shops and compare them. If the independent estimates are all substantially higher than the insurance estimate, chances are your insurance company’s estimate was poor and did not account for the full amount of damage. If your insurance company refuses to budge, it may be wise to contact an insurance attorney.

Review the Terms of Your Policy

Your insurance policy should contain detailed information regarding what formula your insurance company will use to determine how much compensation you will receive if your car is deemed a total loss, whether or not you are entitled to a rental car, and the extent of your coverage. It is imperative you carefully examine your policy to ensure your insurance adheres to their responsibilities.

Filing a Property Damage Claim After a Car Accident

If an accident is not your fault, but you suffered property damage to your vehicle, should you submit the claim to your insurance company or to the at-fault driver’s insurance provider? This is a very common question I receive when working with clients who survived an automobile accident they did not cause. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not so straightforward and depends on a variety of circumstances.

Submitting a Claim to Your Insurance Company

If you think about it, no two car accidents are the same; likewise, your personal situation as an accident survivor can be considered unique, even when compared to someone facing similar prospects. If you have proper coverage on your vehicle, submitting the claim to your insurance company may require you to pay a deductible. Depending on your plan, this amount could be extremely high. Your insurer will likely use a process called “subrogation” to get your deductible reimbursed from the at-fault driver, but it could take several months.

Submitting a Claim to the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company

However, if the claim is submitted to the at-fault driver’s provider, they will most likely drag their feet when it comes to reimbursing the claim. Legally, an insurer has a minimum of 30 days to investigate an accident to determine liability. Although the facts surrounding the cause of the accident may be clear to you, the insurance company will want to talk to all parties involved as well as any witnesses before making a determination.

Which Option Is Best?

Going through your insurance company as opposed to the at-fault driver’s carrier will expedite the process and get your claim advanced sooner rather than later. Most of the time, your insurer can start the repair or replacement process within a matter of days, as opposed to months. Additionally, if you have rental car coverage, submitting the claim to your provider should get you back on the road faster.

Choose the Right Repair Shop

Some insurance companies write provisions into their policies that give them the right to choose where your car will be repaired, allowing them to choose the lowest-cost option. If your policy allows you to choose a repair shop, be sure to choose a body shop with a strong reputation for ethics and service. Furthermore, if repair technicians from a trusted body shop discover further damage to the vehicle during the process of fixing it, they will contact the insurance company on your behalf and ensure your vehicle is fixed correctly.

Watch Out for Used Parts

Some repair facilities may choose to fix your vehicle with parts that are used or made by parties other than your vehicle’s manufacturer to save money – especially if the body shop was chosen by your insurance. It is important you insist that the repair facility use original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts to ensure your repairs are safe and long-lasting. If your policy states that your insurance may fix your vehicle with parts of “like kind and quality,” be sure to request a written warranty of any aftermarket parts used in your vehicle.

Dealing with a repair dispute?

If you encounter a dispute over your property damage claim, you may have grounds to pursue legal action against your insurance provider for acting in bad faith. If you believe you have been a victim of insurance bad faith, head over to the Florida Bar’s website for more information on how an insurance bad faith lawyer can help you can seek justice.

After a car accident, you need experienced legal counsel and advocacy from our Fort Myers attorneys. Contact us today to request a free case evaluation and to learn how we can help you recover damages after an accident.

Meet Our Attorneys

  • William M. Powell, Esq.
    William M. Powell, Esq. Partner
  • Rita M. Jackman
    Rita M. Jackman Partner
  • Adam J. Stevens
    Adam J. Stevens Partner
  • Richard M. Ricciardi, Jr.
    Richard M. Ricciardi, Jr. Partner
  • William M. Powell, Esq. Partner
    William M. Powell, Esq.

    Although William M. Powell, Esq. is well-versed in a variety of legal matters and case types, he has built a strong reputation through his focus on personal injury and medical malpractice cases. Your Advocates are proud to have him as a member of our law firm. He shares our passion for helping people in need and prioritizes our clients’ needs. Read More

  • Rita M. Jackman Partner
    Rita M. Jackman

    Ms. Jackman’s unwavering ambition and leadership has provided clients and will provide her future clients a star in this profession. Ms. Jackman is a relentless researcher and preparer who handles her client tasks with a tremendous amount of preparation and thought. Ms. Jackman was born and raised in Cape Coral, Florida which has worked to benefits her practice and the clients that she serves. Read More

  • Adam J. Stevens Partner
    Adam J. Stevens

    Mr. Stevens has found his niche by becoming a litigation attorney and understands that communication between an attorney and client are paramount to obtaining favorable results. Mr. Stevens is known for taking on any and all types of cases no matter how difficult or routine they may be. Mr. Stevens is known as an aggressive attorney, though at the same time understands that some cases require a more patience to ensure a favorable result. Mr. Stevens does not shy away from challenging legal issues and has litigated complex matters against municipalities, international unions, large banking institutions, and several insurance companies. Read More

  • Richard M. Ricciardi, Jr. Partner
    Richard M. Ricciardi, Jr.

    His experience in litigation provides him the ability to identify and isolate potential areas of conflict and effectively counsel clients around potential pitfalls. Mr. Ricciardi believes that proper estate planning, real estate counsel, and business planning are areas of importance to everyone. Protecting and dispensing clients' various interests, assets, and lifetime earnings can make the difference between a comfortable retirement and wasting thousands of dollars in assets and earnings. Specialized knowledge, experience and attention to detail in these areas is therefore critically important. Read More

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