When a person is involved in an auto accident, it is safe to assume that most people would be concerned about bodily injury to themselves or others. However, we often see people who have the first reaction of: “What am I going to do about my car?!

We’ve had clients call from the hospital, injured from head to toe, only concerned about the property damage to their brand new car.

Property damage is a tricky situation when it comes to car accidents. It is typically not in your best interest to hire an attorney solely for damage to your vehicle, as the legal fees associated will end up giving you a poor return on your damages claim. However, when coupling your injuries with your property damage, a lawyer can guide you in the right direction to getting the most value from the insurance company for your vehicle.

What You Need To Know About Property Damage

These are our recommendations on solving a property damage claim.

Note: This is meant to give you guidance on how to retrieve the most value from the insurance company, and not intended to be formal legal advice.

I didn’t cause the accident, but they won’t give me a rental car.

This is perhaps the most frustrating part of getting into an accident caused by another driver. The insurance company will not pay out any benefits until they can get in contact with their represented driver and hear their version of the accident.  Often parties who cause accidents avoid their insurance company because they are scared of the consequences. One way this can be avoided in the future is to have rental insurance with your own company.

I have a loan on my car, but they are offering me less than I owe.

In most states, including Connecticut, the victim is entitled to fair value of the car (if totaled) or the cost of repairing the car. Fair value is a general amount defined if you attempted to go sell the car (before the accident, of course) to a private party. Two resources to find the value of your car are Kelly Blue Book and NADA (NADA typically has a little higher valuation).

This is where the headaches come in: often times people owe more on their loan than the car is worth. Unfortunately, there is not much you (or even a lawyer) can for you at this point. The insurance company is only going to offer you what the vehicle is worth, which can seem very unfair, but is perfectly legal.

They told me to go to their repair shop. Do I have to?

The simple answer is no. You can go to any repair shop you prefer and trust. However, if the damages seem to be out of reason, the shop will have to get approval from the insurance company before doing the work on the vehicle.

They won’t send me a check until they talk to the finance company.

If your vehicle is totaled, then in order to get paid out for the car, the insurance company needs to own the car. This means the title has to be transferred to the company. However, the insurance company will only pay the fair value of the loan, and the rest will be your responsibility.

How long can I keep my rental car?

You can typically keep your rental car until the damages are fixed, or until the company has paid out the value of your totaled car. This varies with each insurance company though, so make sure you verify with them.

I was injured and my car is totaled. Do lawyers help with the injury and the property damage?

Most lawyers will help with both. We certainly do. We will do our best to guide you in the right direction of settling your property damage claim, while helping your nurse your injuries and recover medical expenses.

Who should I talk to more about this?

If you have questions about your property damage claims or your auto accident injury claims, please contact us immediately to see if we can help.