If your car was damaged or totaled in a traffic accident, you will likely have questions and concerns about who will pay for the repairs or replacement.
Determining who covers vehicle damages after a crash is more challenging than it seems. It depends on various factors, the most common being fault and insurance coverage.
This post will have a detailed look at the factors influencing liability for car damage after an accident in California.
Read on to find out whom to hold responsible for vehicle damage in an accident and how Inland Empire car accident attorneys can help.
If Another Driver Caused the Accident
If another motorist is at fault for your automobile collision, they are financially liable for the damage to your vehicle. The other driver often has insurance.
If not, if you have collision coverage or uninsured driver property damage coverage, your insurance carrier will pay for the damage to your vehicle.
You can try to have the other motorist pay if you don’t have these coverages, but it can be challenging. Typically, drivers without auto insurance don’t have much money that may be used to pay for auto repairs.
Let’s examine a few potential outcomes where the other motorist was to blame for your collision.
If the driver who caused your accident has insurance
Liability insurance covers the at-fault driver’s damages. In auto insurance, property damage refers to damage to your vehicle.
So, your claim to have your damaged car repaired will be against the other motorist’s property damage liability insurance.
Almost all states have laws that require motorists to carry liability insurance, which includes property damage liability insurance.
Generally, the minimum coverage for property damage liability insurance is $10,000; however, your state may have different minimum standards. And obviously, the negligent motorist may have higher insurance coverage than the bare minimum.
The motorist who caused your collision should thus have this form of insurance since property damage liability insurance is typically needed.
Additionally, they will cover the cost of your car’s repairs if the driver’s insurance company concurs that its insured was at fault for the collision and is responsible for covering damages.
It should be noted that even in places with no-fault auto insurance, the motorist who caused the collision would still be liable for any costs linked to property losses, such as vehicle damage.
That’s because no-fault insurance, sometimes known as “personal injury protection,” only covers injuries sustained in auto accidents but not damage to vehicles.
If the driver who caused your accident has no insurance, but you do
What happens if the motorist who hit you is uninsured? Or what if the driver has liability insurance, but their insurance provider won’t acknowledge that their client caused the crash?
In such circumstances, you should contact your insurer as long as you have collision or uninsured motorist coverage.
Your insurance provider will cover the cost of repairing your vehicle regardless of fault if you have collision coverage. This means collision insurance is no-fault insurance. However, you have a portion of the cost to cover- known as the ‘deductible‘.
Suppose you have $20,000 in collision coverage and $500 in deductibles (the higher the deductible, the lower the coverage). If your vehicle needs $12,000 in repairs, your insurer will pay $11,500, and you are responsible for the $500 deductible.
Can you then have your deductible reimbursed? It may be a challenge if the person who hit you didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford to pay. You can attempt to get your money back by suing them.
But remember that receiving a court verdict against someone is distinct from collecting the judgement. To collect, the at-fault party must have some asset (a bank account, a car, or another piece of real estate with equity) that you may “execute on.”
The motorist who caused the accident should have insurance, so if your insurer fixes your car under your collision coverage, you should recover your deductible from the at-fault party.
Your insurance provider will often get it on your behalf. This procedure usually takes a few weeks to a few months.
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Lastly, if the accident wasn’t your fault, filing a collision coverage claim under your policy shouldn’t increase your premiums.
If you have uninsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance, it often extends to accidents that result in injuries.
However, suppose the individual who caused your collision does not have insurance. In that case, you may often purchase a targeted policy add-on called “uninsured motorist property damage insurance” to cover the cost of car repairs.
The driver who caused your accident is uninsured, and so are you
This is a tough one. The at-fault motorist is still obligated to cover the cost of your automobile repairs if you don’t have auto insurance.
But in reality, you cannot claim from someone who has nothing if they are uninsured. In the unlikely event that the negligent driver can’t pay for your car’s repairs, you can always bring a lawsuit against them.
In most states, the Motor Vehicle Administration will likely suspend the other party’s license when you inform them of the judgement against them stemming from a car accident. That might place a lot of pressure on the motorist who caused the accident to pay for the repairs.
The driver who caused your accident has insurance, and so do you
You have an option if the motorist who caused the crash has liability insurance, and you have collision coverage. You can request payment for your car’s damages from any insurance provider.
Which is preferable? The benefit of having the other driver’s insurer fix your automobile damage is that you won’t be required to pay a deductible.
Additionally, the other party must cover the cost of a rental automobile while your car is being fixed, but your insurance provider will only be obligated to do so if you have rental reimbursement insurance.
The central argument for having your insurer fix your car repair is that you have rights under your insurance contract that you don’t have when dealing with the other motorist’s insurer, such a quick and affordable mechanism for resolving disputes.
The extent of coverage is the last factor to take into account. Naturally, you should request payment from your insurance provider if the other driver does not have sufficient insurance to cover the cost of repairing your automobile, but you do.
If You Caused the Car Accident
If you have collision coverage, your insurer should pay to repair your automobile even if you were at fault for the crash.
Remember that collision coverage is no fault. But you won’t owe the deductible. You will be forced to pay out of pocket if the accident is your fault and you don’t have collision auto coverage.
What to Know About Repairing Your Vehicle Through Insurance
Depending on the options that apply to your case, you can estimate the cost of repairing your automobile from either your insurance provider or the other driver’s insurance provider if the latter is insured.
The insurer may require you to obtain many quotations from several body shops and choose the cheapest one, or they may have their own assessor or preferred body shop.
If your vehicle is still drivable, you may drop it off for repairs, and the insurance provider will either mail you a cheque or deal directly with the body shop.
If the damage to the car is so bad that it can’t be driven, the insurance provider will send an adjuster to assess the situation. They will either arrange for towing to the body shop or provide you with money to move your vehicle from the scrap yard to the repair facility.
If your automobile is deemed a write-off, the repair cost would be more than its fair market value before the accident. The insurance provider would, in this case, do a cost study comparing the market value and repair costs and offer you a lower sum.
Recover Damages with Our Inland Empire Car Accident Attorneys
Vehicle damage may not look like a big concern when it’s not your fault, you have insurance coverage, and everyone involved is not hurt.
However, getting in a car accident can put you in a difficult situation, mainly if you can’t get to work because of the damage your car incurred or any severe injuries you may have sustained in the crash.
At Legal Giant, we partner with the best car accident lawyers and can help if you are involved in an accident in California.
If you are involved in an accident in California, we can connect you with result-driven Inland Empire
Our Inland Empire car accident attorneys are result-driven, familiar with state laws, and have helped car accident victims seek compensation for property damage and injuries.
Contact us at (855) 740-5024 to speak with a trusted attorney to review your case today.