Car Accident Property Damage Claims in Harrison County

If you were recently involved in a car crash, it is essential to understand your rights and how to proceed with car accident property damage claims in Harrison County. It is best to remember that if you have been hurt in a collision, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is barred from forcing you to settle an injury claim at the same time you file a claim for property damage.

Furthermore, you should not sign any settlement documentation unless you are sure it is for property damage only. Reach out to a skilled car accident attorney to learn about car accident property damage claims in Harrison County.

Filing a Property Damage Claim

When someone is involved in a car accident through no fault of their own and sustains damage to their vehicle, it is wise to contact the other driver’s insurer as soon as possible. The accident report or exchange form provided by law enforcement may list the name of the at-fault driver’s insurer. Ideally, the individual should call the at-fault insurer first, then follow up with a written notice of their claim.

The written notice should include the time, date, and place of the crash, along with a description of the claimant’s vehicle. If the claimant sends in a written notice, they would receive either a denial or acceptance of their claim in writing from the insurance company.  In the event of a denial, the other driver’s insurance is required to state the specific reason for their determination.

If the claimant has a difficult time getting the insurer to settle, they may wish to consider contacting their insurer. Assuming the claimant has collision insurance, they could make a claim under their policy. Their insurer would then request reimbursement from the at-fault insurer for the cost of repairing or replacing the individual’s vehicle, including reimbursement for the deductible amount.

Vehicles Ruled a Total Loss

On the other hand, if the at-fault insurer accepts the property damage claim, the next step would involve classifying the car either as repairable or as a total loss. A car would typically be considered a total loss if the cost to repair it is equal or more than 75 percent of its cash value prior to the accident, known as the fair market value (FMV).

Understanding Fair Market Value

For a total loss, the other driver’s insurer is obligated to pay a vehicle’s FMV plus tags and taxes. Tags and taxes are the taxes assessed on a vehicle’s value, along with the cost of titling the car. Adjusters typically use a book value to reach a vehicle’s fair market value, but both sides have some room to negotiate.

A claimant has the right to require the other driver’s insurer to supply a written statement with their offer to pay for the value of the total loss of their vehicle. The statement should detail the evaluations, estimates, and deductions used to calculate the payment amount and the sources for these amounts.

If it is not possible to reach an agreement initially regarding FMV, an adjuster must base any additional settlement offers on both the value of the car in the local market and the regional average valuations of similar vehicles.

How Salvage Value Works

If a property damage claimant’s vehicle is ruled a total loss after a crash in Harrison County, the individual and adjuster agree on the FMV, and the adjuster is willing to pay the FMV amount, then the other driver’s insurance company would keep the car. This is because there is often leftover value in vehicles ruled a total loss, such as parts that could be stripped and sold.

Salvage value refers to the value of what is left of a vehicle ruled a total loss. Once the adjuster pays the claimant the FMV, the claimant must sign the title of the vehicle over to the insurer. If the claimant decides they want to keep the vehicle, the salvage value cost would be deducted from the FMV check.

If a claimant decides that they would like to keep the vehicle, before settling, they may ask the insurance company to provide (in writing) the name and contact information of a salvage dealer who would purchase the salvage for the salvage value amount claimed by the adjuster.

The Total Loss Payment

If the claimant’s vehicle was financed, the other driver’s insurer may assess the pay-off to the finance company and write a check for the amount. The claimant would cover the difference. Other times, the check may be made payable to both the claimant and finance company. The claimant would then endorse the check and submit it to the finance company, who would then pay the loan and refund the difference as vehicle equity.

If the pay-off amount due is greater than the insurance carrier’s check, and the individual does not have gap insurance, the finance company would claim the entire check and the individual would still owe the difference. Additionally, if the vehicle is not financed, the other driver’s insurer would simply write the claimant a check.

Vehicles Ruled as Repairable

When the cost of repairing the claimant’s car is less than 75 percent of the FMV assessed, the other driver’s insurer may opt to repair it. Adjusters may recommend a specific repair service, but claimants may use a repair service of their choice.

If the vehicle was financed, the insurance company may write the check in the claimant’s name and the name of the finance company. Because damage to a car could reduce the vehicle’s value, this would also diminish the lien rights of the finance company.

As such, finance companies almost always require repairs to be done to a damaged vehicle to protect their lien interests. If the vehicle is not financed, the claimant would be entitled to the full amount of the repair check.

Diminished Value Defined

Someone filing car accident property damage claims in Harrison County may also be entitled to the diminished value of their vehicle. Diminished value is the compensation which accounts for the decreased FMV of someone’s car due to damage sustained in a crash. The amount of diminished value would depend on the extent of the damage but is generally the difference between the car’s retail value prior to the crash and its wholesale value after the accident.

It is best to inform the adjuster of intent to file claim diminished value before commencing repairs. It is also advisable for a claimant to seek the guidance of an appraiser to make a valuation before accepting a diminished value offer.

Getting a Rental Vehicle

If someone’s vehicle is unsafe to drive or disabled, they are entitled to receive a rental car at the expense of the other driver’s insurer. Gas and mileage would not be covered — just the daily rental expenses associated with the vehicle.

Harrison County Car Crash Property Damage Claims

When filing car accident property damage claims in Harrison County, if an adjuster accepts liability and states they will reimburse you for the cost of repairs, you should request a written statement to that effect and ask that any other oral agreements be put in writing.

Even if you were hurt in an auto accident, it is generally safe to settle property damage — provided you review any release to confirm you are only settling that portion of your claim. If you are injured from a negligent driver, call today to schedule a no-obligation consultation with a Harrison County attorney.