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Another Car Just Hit Me – What About My Car?

Once the dust has settled after a car or truck accident, both literally and figuratively, one of the main concerns facing someone involved in the accident is the repair or replacement of their family car. Most people do not have a spare vehicle sitting around that can be used to travel to work, take the kids to school, or run basic household errancs.

When an individual is the victim of another person’s negligence resulting in an automobile collision, his or her claim for compensation can be divided into two general categories, a bodily injury claim and a property damage claim. In most cases, these two claims can be resolved separately, which allows the victim’s car to be repaired or replaced while they are still treating for the injuries that they sustained in the accident.

Following a car wreck, one of the first questions many people have concerning their property damage is, “If my car will never be the same now that it has been in a wreck, is the other person’s insurance required to replace my car?” The answer is no. When your vehicle is damaged in an accident, the insurance company is required to have the vehicle repaired to the same state it was in prior to the accident or “total” the car out and compensate you the fair market value of the car. The insurance company for the person who caused the accident or your uninsured motorist carrier, if the person who hit you was uninsured, will likely either have you take the vehicle to a repair shop or send an adjuster out to the vehicle to calculate an estimate of the costs of repairs. If the vehicle will cost more to repair than the fair market value of the vehicle, then the insurance company will generally elect to pay the fair market value of the vehicle.

Another question can often be how to determine if a total loss offer from the insurance company is fair. The fair market value of the vehicle is essentially an estimate of what your vehicle would sell for in your area, in the condition it was in, prior to the wreck. The fair market value amount is negotiable, but a vehicle owner may need evidence for the basis of his or her valuation of the vehicle if he or she does not agree with an insurance company’s offer. There are several ways to estimate the fair market value of your vehicle. Many insurance companies use the National Automobile Dealers Association values to determine fair market value. Their website is easy to use and can provide an idea of what the vehicle is worth. Also, letters from car dealers may be used to estimate the value of the automobile.  When the insurance company makes an offer on your vehicle, you can also ask them to send you documentation showing how they calculated the amount of the offer. Often times, the insurance company will not take into account that your vehicle has been equipped with various packages and upgrades.

It is important to know your rights after you have suffered injuries in an accident, particularly serious injuries. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car or truck accident, call the attorneys at Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 1-800-LAW-4004, for a free consultation.