Following an automobile accident, you will want to make sure you are adequately paid for the repairs to your car or the value of your car if it was totaled in the accident. First, it can be very helpful for you to know what your car is worth. You can look up the value of your vehicle online, through Kelley Blue Book or the National Association of Automobile Dealers’ NADA Guides.
If the repairs to your vehicle will cost more than the car is worth, the insurance company will “total” the vehicle. While the insurer gets to decide whether to declare your vehicle a total loss or repair the vehicle, in the event the insurer decides to total your vehicle, if you can make a case that the pieces of the car are worth more than the book value, you may be able to increase your settlement.
You would be required to submit evidence such as mileage records, service history and even affidavits from your mechanics to show the car was worth more than a typical car of the same make, model and year. If your insurer decides to repair your car, an adjuster will usually be sent out to take a look at the damages, making an initial determination on repair costs—and verifying the loss in general.
Remember, the adjuster’s estimate is only a benchmark, rather than a total claim payment. Do not feel pressured to accept the estimate from the adjuster until you have had time to determine whether the estimate will adequately cover the cost of repairs for your vehicle.
Next, you should get at least one estimate from a mechanic, garage or body shop. In some cases, an insurer will ask that you obtain three estimates. The insurer will compare their adjuster’s estimate to the estimates you obtain and will likely want to take the lowest estimate.
One factor which can reduce the amount of your claim is known as betterment. If your old car is repaired with brand-new parts, the insurer could argue the repairs have enhanced the value of your car, therefore the claim can be reduced by the difference between a used part and a new part.
While your insurer cannot require that you have repairs done at a specific body shop, they can insist that you obtain more than one estimate. If you believe the estimates simply will not adequately repair your car, you are allowed to point out any discrepancies.
Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney?
What Should I Do Next?
Above all, we’re here to help. The most important thing to start doing right away is to take detailed notes of your accident, your expenses, any lost wages, etc. Then, it’s incredibly important that you find an experienced personal injury attorney to help represent you.
We understand that every client’s case is unique, and we want to answer the many questions you probably have. Contact one of our attorneys to set up a FREE consultation.