WHO PAYS FOR DAMAGE TO MY CAR AFTER AN ACCIDENT?
One of the first concerns after a car accident is what to do about the damage to your vehicle. To start, you need to find out who is responsible for causing the crash and what type of coverage you have on your vehicle.
When you call your automobile insurance company to report the incident, ask them if you have comprehensive collision coverage on your vehicle. This is NOT mandatory coverage in MN, so even if you think you are “fully insured,” you may not have comprehensive collision coverage.
If you do have comprehensive collision coverage, then your insurance company will generally handle the cost of repairing the vehicle, or paying you for the value of the vehicle if your vehicle is “totaled.” In this situation, your insurance will pay to fix or replace your car regardless of who was at fault in causing the accident. However, if the other driver was at fault, your insurance will get repaid by their insurance, and your deductible will be refunded. You also have the option of going directly through the other driver’s insurance if they admit their driver was at fault.
If you do not have comprehensive collision coverage and the accident was someone else’s fault, then the other driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying for the damage to your vehicle. For more inforamtion on this, see What If I Only Have Liability Coverage.
HOW MUCH WILL I GET FOR MY CAR AFTER AN ACCIDENT?
What are they required to pay you? The insurance company is required to pay you for the cost of repair or the value of your vehicle, whichever is less. For example, if the cost to repair your car is $2,000, but fair market value for your vehicle is only $1,500, they are legally obligated to pay you only $1,500.
If your insurance company is paying for the damage to your vehicle, they will subtract the amount of your deductible from what they owe you. For example, if your vehicle is “totaled” and the fair market value of your vehicle is $1,500, but your deductible is $200, then your insurance company will pay you $1,300. However, as mentioned above, if the accident was someone else’s fault, your insurance company will obtain reimbursement from the other driver’s insurance company for the full $1,500, and you will be reimbursed the $200 deductible. Please call us to have this explained in more detail.
What happens if my vehicle is “totaled?” A vehicle is considered “totaled” if it would cost more to fix the car than what it is actually worth. In that case, the insurance company is required to pay you the fair market value of your vehicle.
What is “fair market value?” Fair market value is what your vehicle is worth in your area. Most insurance companies have a database of vehicles that have been listed for sale or sold in your area over a certain period of time. The adjuster who is handling the claim will input your vehicle information into that database. He or she will then base his or her assessment of fair market value on what similar vehicles have been listed or sold for in your area in recent months. Some insurance companies will look more at trade in value while others will look at private sales. This means that the value of the vehicle is somewhat negotiable.
Can I get a rental car while my car is in the shop? If you have coverage for rental vehicles on your automobile policy, you can obtain a rental car until your vehicle is repaired. If you don’t have rental coverage, but the accident was the other driver’s fault, you may also get the other driver’s insurance company to pay for a rental vehicle until your car is repaired. However, be aware that insurance companies are often stingy when it comes to rental vehicles. They often have limited coverage so you may not get the same size vehicle you had before the accident, and they are careful about how many days you have the rental car – so you should get the damaged vehicle in for repair as soon as possible or start looking for a replacement vehicle if your was totaled. We recommend that you talk with a lawyer before getting the rental vehicle, or exchange emails with the insurance adjuster to you have a clear statement in writing, so that you are not somehow stuck with a bill that the other driver’s insurance company later refuses to pay.
CAN I HIRE A LAWYER TO HELP ME DEAL WITH THE AUTO INSURANCE COMPANY?
Generally, it will not be cost effective to hire a car accident lawyer just to help you with your car damage claim after a crash. Usually, the cost of hiring a lawyer to pursue this type of claim is more than the value of the car, and certainly more than the difference between what the insurance company is willing to pay compared to what they should be paying. However, if you call our office, one of our lawyers will be happy to answer a few questions and give you some free advice about your options.
If you are injured in the accident and hire us to represent you for the injury, or if we are representing somone in your car who was injured, our car accident lawyers in MN will help you deal with the car damage as part of our representation. We will also negotiate with the insurance company for you if necessary. If you have been INJURED in a car accident, you should call us before settling your claim for the damage to your car. We want to make sure that you do not waive your injury claim when you settle your car damage claim. Pam Rochlin and David Rochlin are MN personal injury lawyers with more than 20 years experience handling hundreds of car accident cases. Pam Rochlin was a partner at Meshbesher and Spence and offers personal attention to her clients. We will discuss your vehicle damage after a car accident and explain your rights. We have offices in Edina, Woodbury, Minneapolis, and St. Louis Park. Our lawyers also meet people at their homes in St. Paul, Maplewood, White Bear Lake, Lakeville, Apple Valley, Burnsville, Chanhassen, Rogers, Maple Grove, Brooklyn Park, and other areas throughout Minnesota. There is no obligation on your part, and always only charge a percentage of the compensation you receive.