Most drivers are proud of their cars and depend upon them for day-to-day living. When an accident happens, it’s always a shock to face sudden vehicle damage, expensive repair bills, and days or weeks without your primary means of transportation. With an experienced car accident attorney by your side, you may be able to win compensation for your vehicle repair costs and related losses. Here’s how to recover full property damages in Huntsville, TX, or anywhere else in the state.
Recovering Damages to Property After a Car Accident
Following a car accident, always get the other driver’s insurance details. This will allow you to file a claim with their insurance company to seek compensation for your property-related costs and other damages.
Texas is an at-fault state, meaning that the driver who causes an accident is responsible for compensating any other parties for their losses. This does, however, require you to prove that the at-fault driver was responsible for the crash and your property damage. So make sure you call the police right away and use the camera on your phone to document plenty of evidence at the scene of the accident.
Hire a Car Accident Attorney To Handle Your Claim
If your property damages are extensive or the insurance company is refusing to pay you a fair settlement, consider hiring a local car accident attorney. Having successfully recovered full property damages in hundreds of prior car accident cases, an experienced attorney knows how to gather sufficient evidence and negotiate a fair settlement for you.
In car accident cases, problems sometimes arise when the insurer disputes liability, claiming that the other driver was not wholly responsible for the accident. And sometimes the insurance company may accept liability but offer you a settlement payout that doesn’t fully cover your costs for repairing or replacing your car. Experienced attorneys know how to handle insurance companies and overcome obstacles like these.
Types of Property Damage in Car Accident Claims
At the outset of an insurance claim, it helps to know what kinds of property damages you may seek to recover. There are a few different types of losses related to your property.
Cost of Vehicle Repairs
After medical expenses, the highest expense in most car accident cases is the cost of repairing vehicle damage. This should be the total cost of restoring your vehicle to the state it was in before the accident.
The insurance adjuster may provide you with a repair estimate and then give you the cash directly to have the repairs carried out. Or, the adjuster may suggest a local mechanic you can visit for repairs and then compensate you for the costs when you hand them the bill.
You Can Choose Your Own Mechanic in Texas
It’s important to be aware that Texas law allows you to choose your own mechanic for repairs. This may help ensure that the repair job gets done properly with components of suitable quality. And if the insurance company gives you a repair estimate instead, make sure you get your own independent estimate to ensure the settlement figure offered fully covers all the costs involved.
Watch Out for After-Market Parts
Insurance companies almost always seek ways to reduce their payouts in a claim. So when it comes to repairing vehicle damage, their estimates may be based on using after-market parts rather than any original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts your vehicle had before the accident.
But after-market car parts are often inferior in quality and have a shorter lifespan than OEM parts, which would fail to properly restore your car to its state before the accident. After-market parts may also reduce a car’s resale value. Be aware of this when receiving the insurer’s estimate and attaining your own independent repair estimates.
Diminution in Value
All vehicles lose resale value once they’ve been involved in an accident, even when repaired and returned to pristine condition. And each subsequent accident further reduces a car’s value.
Therefore, you have a right to pursue compensation for your car’s diminution in value as a result of the accident. There are various value appraisal services in Texas that can calculate the diminution in value damages.
Cost of Replacing Your Car
If the cost of repairing a vehicle is around 80% or more of its resale value, it will usually be considered a total loss. Many insurance companies calculate the payout for a total loss as the wholesale price of an equivalent car at an average dealership.
But the wholesale value may not cover the actual market retail price of replacing your car. It might not even allow you to pay off the loan.
Do Your Due Diligence
It’s important to do your own due diligence: request the background work the insurer carried out to determine their offer and research sale prices for comparable vehicles to prove the actual fair market value. In addition, Texas law requires that the insurance provider includes tax, title, and license fees in their fair market value payout. So ensure this is also included.
As with any of your property damages, there’s no need to accept the insurer’s initial settlement offer. It’s often best to negotiate, which an attorney can help you with.
Loss of Use Costs
Following an accident, another harm caused is the inconvenience of suddenly being deprived of your vehicle for days or weeks while it’s being repaired. During this period, you’re likely to pay for alternative transportation, such as a rental car or taxi services. You have a right to pursue compensation for any transportation costs you’re forced to incur because you don’t have your car.
Personal Property Damages
Your car, truck, or motorcycle isn’t the only kind of property that can be damaged in a crash. Any damaged or lost personal property that was on your person or in your vehicle may also be included in your damages. Damaged personal property might include your smartphone, tablet, laptop, camera, headphones, or video recorder.
Any damaged technological devices you’ve had installed in your car such as an upgraded stereo system, baby monitors, or signal boosters can also be included. You can seek compensation for damaged clothing and jewelry, car seats and baby strollers, power tools, sports equipment, and important documents. You have a right to be made financially whole for any property at all that was lost or damaged in the crash.
Use Evidence To Negotiate Your Property Damages
When filing your claim, remember that the insurance company is motivated to minimize payouts. Their initial settlement offer to you will rarely be the most you can recover. And you absolutely have the right to negotiate.
Your ability to negotiate depends in large part on how much evidence you can provide. This should ideally include paperwork to prove how much you paid for your car and records for all recent maintenance and servicing, which can help prove the vehicle’s condition at the time of the accident.
Prepare Your Counteroffer With Care
When looking for comparable vehicle sale prices, try to come as close to your car as possible in model, year, mileage, and other features, and use a reliable and trusted mechanic to provide repair estimates that include the same quality of car parts your vehicle previously had.
Then use your evidence to prepare a robust counteroffer. The best way to prepare a counteroffer is usually with the help of an experienced car accident attorney who has successfully negotiated and won fair property damages in hundreds of similar cases.
If you’ve been in a car accident in Huntsville, TX, or anywhere else in Texas, contact Brian C. Gutierrez at (979) 364-5346 for a free consultation.