Nuts and Bolts of Property Damage Claims

One of the first things you have to deal with after an accident is the damage to your vehicle.  There are basically two different categories: vehicles that can be repaired and vehicles that are a total loss.

If your vehicle can be repaired you’re entitled to recover the following from the at‑fault driver:

1.         Cost of repair.

2.         Loss of use (this is usually calculated based on what it would cost to rent a comparable vehicle).

3.         Diminished value (this relates to the loss in value associated with your vehicle being in an accident even though it’s been repaired; if a purchaser has a choice between two vehicles that are identically except for the fact that one has been wrecked and repaired purchaser is going to pay considerably less for the one that’s been wrecked than the one that hasn’t).

The situation’s a little bit different when your vehicle’s declared a total loss.  You have two choices.  You can either retain the vehicle and accept fair market value less salvage value or turn the title over to the insurance company and receive fair market value.  In addition, you are also entitled to recover sales tax, the prorated value of tags and loss of use between the time of the accident and the date that you should reasonably be able to obtain a substitute vehicle (this is always after the total loss check is issued and the exact amount of time depends on how rare or how common the totaled vehicle was).

Not only are property damage claims one of the first things resolved after an accident but also it’ll be one of your first tastes of dealing with an adjuster.  You may not be able to recover all these things under your own policy of insurance but you should be able to against the at‑fault driver.

If you have questions about the process please let us know.  We’re happy to help.



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