FAQ’s On Motor Vehicle Damage

When you or a loved have been involved in a car accident, you will want to have your car repaired and on the road again as quickly as possible.

Who decides where it is repaired?
You can decide where your vehicle is repaired. The insurance company decides how much will be paid for the repairs, and it may not be the same amount as the repair shop estimate.

Will the repair shop charge me for storage?
The insurance company of the person who caused the accident will pay towing and storage costs, according to what is reasonable in your area. If the vehicle is declared a total loss, the insurance company will pay to have it moved to a salvage or wrecking yard. If you do not allow the company to move your vehicle, you will be liable for any storage or towing fees.

Who decides if my vehicle is repairable or “totalled”?
The insurance company who is liable for payment can decide that your vehicle is not worth repairing. If the cost of the labor and parts exceeds the market value of your vehicle, the company can declare it a “total loss” and pay you the market value. Market value is determined by the fair market value of similar vehicles in your area, or from an independent source such as the Kelley Blue Book. If you want to keep the vehicle after it has been declared a total loss, you will have to pay the salvage value to the insurance company.

Who pays the bank loan if my vehicle is financed?
You are still liable for any loans on the vehicle. If the fair market value of your vehicle is less than the outstanding loan, you are still required to pay the entire amount of the loan.

Do I get a rental vehicle while my vehicle is being repaired?
You can always get a rental vehicle if you are willing to pay for it. If you want the insurance company to pay for it, while your vehicle is being repaired or replaced, then payment depends on several factors. If you caused the accident, check to see if your own insurance coverage includes rental vehicles. Many policies do not include rental vehicles unless it is specifically stated. If the other driver caused the accident, then you can expect the liable person’s insurance company to pay the costs of providing you with a rental vehicle. The vehicle will be a substitute for your own vehicle, that is, a vehicle of similar quality. Be sure to check with your own insurance company about insurance coverage on the rental vehicle.

I just paid for my license plates – do I have to pay for new ones?
The insurance company should pay the prorated amount of any registration fees that are unused, as well as transfer fees for the new registrations.

How Can I Get the Full Value of My Car After an Accident?
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, and your car has been totaled, you need to make sure that the insurance company is going to reimburse you for the full value of your car. But how do you know what your car is worth? There are three main sources you can check to find out the true value of your vehicle after an accident (or even before):

  • Your local car dealer — Ask them what they would sell your car for. NOT the trade-in value, because that’s substantially less. You want to know what someone would have to pay in order to buy your car again.

The only reason you should ever get a lower price than what is listed in the NADA Guides or Kelly Blue Book is if you had severe damage to your car prior to the accident, or abnormal wear and tear for the age of the car. The price can also be upwardly adjusted if you’ve put a lot of money and work into the car as well, such as new wheels and tires, new paint job, etc. Remember, this is about what it would take to replace your car in a similar condition, and not replace the car ‘as new’ or for the lowest possible price. Insurance companies will hire people to do their own slanted market reports and use their own system for valuing your car, typically showing you the trade-in value, not the sale price. But when it comes to establishing a set price that’s fair to the owner of the wrecked car, the NADA value is what is typically accepted in Louisiana courts. The best part is that the NADA is admissible in Court without having to pay anyone. The Insurance company will have to pay their “expert” to testify and probably still lose.

How Do You Go About Getting a Rental Car?
If your car was damaged in a car accident, you may be entitled to a rental car. And if your car was damaged by another driver, their insurance provider is responsible for the rental. If you feel confident that the wreck was their fault, you can get a rental car right away and then just bill it back to their insurance company. If you don’t have rental insurance, you’ll want to call the other insurance adjuster and set up a rental car immediately. They may negotiate a little, but you are entitled to get a rental car similar to your own car. For example, if you drive a pickup truck for work, the insurance company may try to stick you in the cheapest rental they can find, which may end up being a small car. But they can’t actually do that. They’re required to give you a truck, since that’s what you normally drive. Insurance companies don’t like it when you go out and get your own rental car and then give them the bill, because they have a discounted rate already negotiated with car rental companies.

You have a right to go out and get your own, but they will switch it over to their account and start getting their discounted rate. From the time you are informed that your car is totaled or damaged, most Courts say you have 30 days of rental car privileges, but that is not an absolute right. If you let your car sit for two weeks before you go about getting an estimate or repairs done, you may not get an additional two weeks of car rental. You have to take reasonable actions to get the repairs made. However, if you are injured and unable to take action, the Court will also take that into account. Every case is different. The key is to do what you can do and then you can rightfully expect the insurance company to their part. If your car wasn’t fixed because of unforeseen problems, such as an unusual part that is on back order, then you will get to keep your rental car and keep it on the insurance plan.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident, do not hesitate to call the car accident lawyers at Broussard & Hart, L.L.C. in Lake Charles, LA. Call us today or use the contact form below.

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Our attorneys will review your case and represent you throughout your car crash claim. Contact Broussard & Hart L.L.C. today for help pursuing a car accident settlement. Your first consultation is free and we won’t charge fees unless money is recovered.

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