If you were in a car accident or another type of motor vehicle accident, you may be left with not only injuries but also damage to your vehicle that is costly to repair. If you were not at fault for the crash, then it should NOT be your responsibility to pay for the damages. Legally, the person who caused the crash is liable to cover these expenses.
But did you know that when you hire a lawyer for your car accident, most law firms will only handle your medical damages, not your property damages?
That leaves you to deal with fixing or replacing your car – and finding a ride while you wait.
If you’ve suffered a car crash, you’re already dealing with so much. You don’t need the added stress of wrangling with the insurance company over the worth of your car. We know this, which is why our experienced legal team is dedicated to handling every aspect of your case, including the damages to your vehicle or other property.
If you’re hurt in a car accident, you can include the cost of repairing or replacing your car in your personal injury claim or lawsuit. In California, whoever is “at fault” for causing your injury is also responsible for paying the damages to your vehicle.
The steps you take immediately after a car crash are critical to proving fault and damages in your case. You’ll need to provide documentation to establish the facts around your accident. With the right approach, you can file a claim to get the maximum payout for your car, even if you’re upside down on your loan.
What to Do After a Car Accident in California
California is an at-fault state, which means the amount of compensation you recover is based on the percentage of fault. You must be able to show actual evidence that proves:
- Another driver is responsible (or “at fault”) for your car accident, and
- The accident actually caused your injuries or made an existing condition worse.
Facts are best gathered fresh before the accident scene changes and eyewitness memories get muddled. As soon as possible after your California car accident, you should:
- Get contact and insurance information from all other drivers involved in the accident.
- Take photos and videos of the scene of the crash and any damage to your car.
- Record eyewitness testimony at the scene and get witness contact information.
- File a police report either at the scene or shortly after at the police station.
- Get medical treatment immediately after the accident.
- Hire a lawyer to notify your insurance companies and file a claim.
If you’re injured in a car accident, it’s best to contact a personal injury lawyer so that they can handle all the communication with the insurance companies on your behalf.
Dealing with Insurance Companies After a Car Crash
Your car’s property damage could be covered by:
- Liability coverage under the at-fault driver’s insurance
- Collision or comprehensive coverage under your own insurance (you may be responsible for paying your auto policy’s deductible)
- Uninsured motorist coverage under your own insurance
- Damages in a personal injury lawsuit related to the accident
Once you file a claim with your insurance company or another driver’s insurance company, they will assess and set a value for the property damage you’ve suffered.
It’s best to verify this amount with an independent party because insurance companies commonly undervalue damage to protect their profits. If your insurance company doesn’t pay for repairs directly, make sure to keep all your repair and rental receipts so that you can get reimbursed for those expenses.
Insurance companies often lowball settlement offers shortly after traffic accidents, hoping you’ll accept a quick payout for much less than you’re actually owed. You should always talk to a lawyer before accepting a settlement offer to make sure you’re protecting your rights. Once you accept a settlement offer, you lose the ability to sue over the accident.
At Wilshire Law Firm, our car accident lawyers gather evidence to negotiate the maximum settlement offer for the losses you’ve suffered. That includes any out-of-pocket cost you’ve had to pay to get back on the road while your car is being fixed, such as car rental payments.
What If Your Car Is Totaled But You Have Payments Left?
Insurance companies determine the fair market value of a car not from the Kelly Blue Book but by searching for similar vehicles being sold in your area. This is the “actual cash value” (ACV) of your car, usually set by an insurance adjuster.
Because cars depreciate in value so fast, you may owe more on your auto loan than your car is worth – especially in the first few years of ownership. What happens if you get into an accident during this time and you severely damage or total your car?
What Is Gap Insurance and What Does It Cover?
Gap insurance covers the difference between your car’s current value and the amount you owe on the loan. You can get gap insurance through your car dealer or auto insurance policy.
If you don’t have gap insurance and you’re upside-down on your car loan, you may have to pay the loan amount above the ACV of your car. To avoid getting stuck with this bill, you should make sure the ACV determined by your insurance company is correct.
The property damage team at Wilshire Law Firm is experienced in calculating an accurate ACV of your car, using multiple resources to make sure the price is correct. Sometimes, readjusting the ACV of your car could increase your settlement amount by thousands of dollars.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
When you hire a lawyer for your car accident, you level the playing field against insurance companies that have endless resources to fight your claim.
A good personal injury lawyer can help you get compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered in your car accident. They can also help you understand your rights and establish the proper value of your car instead of falling prey to insurance companies who try to undercut you.
At Wilshire Law Firm, we have an entire property damage department ready to handle whatever you need to get you back on the road. We are passionate about getting the maximum compensation possible for our clients – that includes the value of your car.
Our client-focused approach means putting your needs first. Our team is available 24 hours a day ready to come to you if you’re unable to get transportation. Call our California car accident lawyers now for your FREE consultation at (800) 522-7274.