Most people think about personal injuries when they hear someone was involved in a car accident. However, property damage is another consequence of a motor vehicle accident. A crash can result in expensive repairs or the total loss of a vehicle.
Drivers in Massachusetts are required to purchase mandatory car insurance to cover damage caused by car accidents. In addition to purchasing bodily injury and PIP coverage, you must also purchase at least $5,000 in property damage coverage.
Property damage liability coverage pays for the damage caused to personal property. It compensates another party for damage you cause in a crash.
Generally, the insurance company for the at-fault driver pays for the cost of repairs to your vehicle after a car accident. However, as discussed above, the minimum amount of property damage coverage is $5,000. Therefore, the other driver’s liability insurance coverage may be sufficient to cover the cost of your repairs.
If you have general collision coverage on your insurance policy, your insurance company should pay for damage to your vehicle regardless of who caused the car wreck. You must check with your insurance provider to confirm coverage and file a claim.
Some things to keep in mind about property damage repairs include:
The insurance adjuster may try to ask you about your injury claim. However, do not discuss the injury claim when settling your property damage claim. Instead, refer the claims adjuster to your personal injury lawyer on any issues related to your injuries or other damages.
Even though your vehicle was repaired, the fair market value of your vehicle may decrease because it was in an automobile accident. When you sell your vehicle, a buyer or automobile dealer may not pay you as much for your car when they realize it was wrecked.
Inherent diminished value refers to the difference in the value of your vehicle after repairs versus the value of your vehicle had it not been involved in a car accident.
There is also repair-related diminished value. That amount is the loss in value because of repairs, such as using off-market or used parts instead of new parts.
Most claims adjusters do not mention diminished value. You must demand an amount for diminished value. Obtain written statements and estimates from car dealers, repair shops, and other reputable sources to support your claim. The statements should state the diminished value and explain why the vehicle is worth less now than before the accident.
If the cost of repairs exceeds a certain percentage of your vehicle’s value, the insurance company may declare the value a total loss. In other words, the insurance company will not pay to repair the vehicle. Instead, the company pays you the fair market value for your vehicle.
The fair market value of a vehicle depends on several factors, including:
The insurance company generally assigns an adjuster to estimate the value of your vehicle. However, it is in your best interest to obtain several estimates to ensure that you receive a fair price for your vehicle.
You can research vehicle values online through NADA and Kelly Blue Book. If your vehicle is new or has special equipment, you may also want to obtain written estimates from car dealers who are familiar with the make and model of your vehicle.
You do not have to accept the first offer from the insurance company. You can negotiate a higher amount for your property damage claim. However, be prepared to submit evidence to support your demand for a higher amount.
Evidence could include pictures of your vehicle before the wreck, copies of written valuations, receipts for special equipment, and copies of maintenance records.
If you have questions about property damage claims or personal injury cases, contact us or call (617)-391-9001 today to schedule your free consultation with a Boston personal injury attorney. We want to hear what happened to you so we can discuss your legal options to help you get the money you deserve.