When you are involved in a car accident, you can have two claims – a personal injury claim (PI) and a property damage claim (PD). Property damage after a car accident in Gwinnett County includes more than just damage to your vehicle, though. It can include damage to your personal property within the car, and more.
PD claims are usually the easier of your two claims and you can usually resolve them in a couple of weeks. The claims move faster than personal injury claims, in part, because insurance companies are paying for you to rent a car and want to get you back in your car as soon as possible.
Most PD claims are handled over the phone, unlike a PI claim that requires lots of paperwork. You usually only need documents such as repair estimates, Blue Book quotes, and appraisals.
Types of Property Damage Claims
Your property damage claim can actually be one of or a combination of the following:
- Collision Repair Claim - your car was repaired
- Diminished Value Claim (DV) - your car is worth less after an accident. You can get paid for the decrease in your car's value. (The insurance company usually will not tell you about DV claims; you need to ask for it.)
- Total Loss Claim - your car was “totaled out.” Your car cannot be repaired because of the damages or the cost of repairs exceeds the value of your car. You will most likely have to argue with the insurance company for fair market value of your vehicle at the time of the accident.
What does a property damage claim cover?
In addition to either repairing or replacing your car, your PD claim also has several sub-components to it.
Loss of Use
When you lose the ability to drive your car, you incur certain expenses. These are called “loss of use” and include the costs of a similar rental car. If the other driver’s insurance company offers to get you a rental car, then you won’t get additional compensation for this component because the insurance company has paid you for this already.
PD claims also include the loss or damage to your personal property such as sunglasses, computers, iPods, cell phones, and ripped clothing. You are entitled to the current value of the damaged or lost items. Ask for the replacement value, but be sure to research the prices and then document each for the adjuster. The adjuster then will most likely discount each item’s new cost to get its current value.
Which Insurance Company to Use For PD & DV Claims
Unlike personal injury claims, you usually have options on whose insurance company you want to make your PD claim against. You can:
- Third-Party Claim: Against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The accident must have been the other person’s fault.
First-Party Claim: Against your insurance company for collision coverage. You can make a first-party claim regardless of whose fault it is.
There are advantages and disadvantages to using your own insurance company.
It is faster: Dealing with your own insurance company is usually much faster than working with the other driver’s insurer. This is because your insurance, unlike the other driver’s insurance, does not need to investigate the accident before paying. They pay your damages regardless.
Good faith: Your insurance company generally owes you certain duties and responsibilities such as fairly and quickly processing your claim because they are in an insurance contract with you. They will move a little faster and take things a little more seriously. After all, you have been paying premiums for this service.
Deductibles: You may have to pay a deductible under your policy, unlike if you use the at-fault driver’s insurance. It is usually better to file your claim with the other driver’s insurer and not have to pay your deductible, but you can only do this if the accident was the other driver’s fault. In addition, if your insurer gets reimbursed for your claim, they will pay you back your deductible. It will just take some time to get this money back.
Policy Restrictions: You claim may have certain restrictions as set out in the language of your insurance policy, such as what kinds of personal property they will reimburse.
Car Loan Financial Responsibility Clauses: Your policy may have a clause that gives your car loan lender rights over your settlement. These clauses essentially protect the bank over you.
We Handle Property Damage Claims
We know of no other law firm in Gwinnett County that helps clients with ALL aspects of their car damage claim, such as:
- Reserving rental cars
- Scheduling field adjusters for estimates
- Helping resolve problems with body shops
- Negotiating total loss claims and diminished value claims
Other law firms leave it to their clients to handle it themselves; although it is doable, it can be confusing and there are ways to handle it to maximize your claim that only a lawyer who does it frequently would know.
Handling a client’s car damage claim is a MAJOR point of differentiation of our firm. It is but one example of the value we bring to you.
Need More Help? Get Our Property Damage Guide Free!
If you want more information about what you should do after your car has been damaged in a car accident, you can download a FREE copy of David Brauns’ book - Tricks to the Fix: Your Ultimate Guide to Dealing with a Wrecked Car. For a free consultation, contact us at 404-418-8244.