After you've been in a car accident that was not your fault, you deserve to get paid for your property damage and your bodily injury. The insurance carrier for the at-fault party is obligated to pay you for your property damage if their insured was at fault and had a valid policy at the time.
If your car can be repaired for less than the value of your car, the other party's insurance carrier will pay for the repairs for your car and for the cost of a rental car while your car is being repaired. You can get your car repaired at a body shop of your choosing (typically recommended) instead of going with the repair shop the insurance carrier recommends. It is also possible to get paid for the diminished value of your car after a collision. The diminished value represents the inherent drop in value of your car because it was involved in a collision. Diminished value can be difficult and costly to prove, but it may be worth it in the end.
If your car cannot be repaired for less than the value of your car, it means that it is a total loss. When your car is a total loss, the other party's insurance carrier should pay you for the value of the car at the time of the collision plus the cost of a rental of a comparable vehicle or loss of use of your vehicle while you wait for the settlement check to arrive.
To determine the value of your car, the insurance carrier typically hires an independent vehicle appraiser who compares your vehicle to similar vehicles within 30 miles of your residence. They will provide you with an evaluation report of your vehicle upon request. It is important to look over the report to make sure they are paying you fairly for the value of your car.
If you still owe money on the car, the insurance carrier will issue payment to the party who holds your loan. If the settlement amount is not enough to satisfy your loan, you will still owe money on the loan. This means you will have no car and you will still owe money on your car loan. If you carry gap insurance, your gap insurance will cover the difference between the amount of your car loan and the value of your car at the time of the collision.
It is also important to keep in mind that if the other party's insurance policy limits are insufficient to cover you for all of your damages, it may be wise to submit a claim through your own insurance carrier if you have collision coverage. It is possible that your deductible may be waived by your own insurance carrier or reimbursed to you (at least partly) once the other party's insurance carrier admits liability.
When an attorney is representing you for your car accident case, he or she typically will not receive any payment in relation to your property damage claim, especially for the cost of repairs, total loss value of your car, or the rental of a vehicle or the loss of use of your vehicle.
The above-mentioned is merely general information and is not to be taken as legal advice. Every car accident is different and should be treated accordingly. If you have questions about your car accident, please feel free to contact us directly.
By West Covina Personal Injury Lawyer, Lem Garcia