There are a number of important steps to take following a car accident, all of which are well-documented. Those steps include:
- exchanging information with the other driver
- collecting evidence at the scene
- seeking out medical attention immediately following the accident
- retaining a skilled automobile accident attorney.
Though each of these steps is important, they are somewhat abstract, as they miss the reality of day-to-day life following a collision. There are a number of practical concerns that you will need to deal with once you’ve been released from the hospital following your accident. Below, we will touch on a few issues that may arise in relation to your vehicle.
To begin with, if you’re car has been totaled or requires extensive repairs, you may be pressed to find a replacement vehicle so you can get to work and complete your daily activities. The first thing you might do is call the insurance company of the at-fault driver and ask the adjuster to cover a rental car while yours is in the shop. Most likely, the adjuster will tell you that before the other party’s insurer can cover a rental car, they’ll need to investigate the accident and speak with their client (the other driver). If you’re absolutely certain that your car is too beat-up to drive and that the other party was responsible for the collision, you may want to rent a car at a rental company that works with the at-fault party’s insurer.
Paying for the Rental
When you find the right company, you can tell them your situation, specifying that you will cover the initial payments with your own funds, but that eventually the other party’s insurance company will pay for the rental car. It’s important to be very clear about the fact that the insurance company will pay once the investigation has been completed. When you choose the vehicle, make sure it’s reasonably similar to your own car. Also, when you’re filling out the rental paperwork, be certain to opt out of the supplemental insurance. In most cases, the at-fault party won’t cover extra costs.
If you’re able to drive your car from place to place, but it is still in need of repairs, you may want to take it to the drive-through center of the at-fault party’s insurance company. At the center, an adjuster will likely give you an initial estimate, after walking around your vehicle and observing the exterior damage. But since exterior damage doesn’t always indicate interior problems, the initial estimate may be very low. Once they make their estimate, they may offer to write you a check for that amount.
Important: do not sign anything that waives your right to recover additional money for the damage if the damage is worse than the estimate.
Follow-Up Is Key
You should then take your vehicle to a body shop in order to get a thorough review of the damage. The mechanic may give you a number that far exceeds the initial estimate given to you by the insurance company. In this case, the body shop will likely send the supplemental work orders – or the costs not included in the initial estimate – to the insurer in order to get payment for the total damages. With this in mind, it’s advisable to keep the check from the drive-through center and give it to the body shop for payment.
The bottom line is this: you should avoid cashing the check, pocketing the money and moving on. If you fail to get your car repaired in a timely manner, the insurance adjuster could argue that your vehicle suffered minor damages. The defendant could then argue that, since your car was not severely damaged, your injuries could not have been caused by the collision. Thus, it’s imperative to get your vehicle repaired and to communicate the costs to the insurance company.
These are just a few things to consider when dealing with your vehicle after a collision occurs at no fault of your own. It’s a good idea to be diligent about repairing your vehicle. Failure to address problems following an accident could give the other driver’s insurance company the ammo they need to drastically reduce the value of your claim.
Of course, you should always start by working with an experienced auto accident attorney like Laurie Robbins. She will serve as your intermediary so that the insurance company does not take advantage of your situation. Please call today for a free initial consultation.