Property Damage Following A Personal Injury Accident

Following an accident you may be focused on the injuries to your body. However, there is very likely going to be damage to your vehicle that needs to be addressed. This is a brief overview as to some of the issues involved in handling your property damage in a personal injury case.

As a preliminary matter, I get involved in the property damage settlement of the case as a service to my clients. I am not taking a fee for this under the contingency agreement. If I took a fee my clients would not be able to repair or replace their vehicle. I am trying to take some of the emotional and mental strain away from my clients so they do not need to get caught up in the red tape and bureaucratic hassle of dealing with a property damage adjuster.  The following are some of the issues which often arise in the course of resolving your property damage claim following a car accident.

What Issues Can Arise After A Henderson Car Accident?

The first decision that must be made is which insurance company is going to handle my property damage claim. If you carry comprehensive or “full coverage,” you may elect to have your own insurance company fix your vehicle. There are a couple of reasons for doing this. 

First, and most importantly, it is much quicker. Many times the opposing insurance company will not even consider making a determination on liability until they have had an opportunity to speak with their insured.This can drag out the decision on liability for up to two to three weeks in some cases.If it is a fairly clear cut case your insurance company will agree to fix the property damage immediately. 

Second, your insurance company owes you a duty to be fair and to treat you almost as a fiduciary (one to whom the highest duty of care is owed). They need to treat you almost as they would treat a family member. You don’t need to worry about your own insurance company cutting corners or taking advantage of you.  If they do, you have a separate remedy against them.

Dealing With Car Insurance After A Henderson Car Accident

The concern that always arises from clients is, “why should my insurance company have to pay for this when it wasn’t my fault?” This is a normal reaction.  This is not an issue, however.  You have purchased this coverage to protect you under these circumstances.There is a statute in Nevada (NRS 687B.385), that prohibits an insurer from raising your rates for making a claim in an accident that is not your fault. Additionally, don’t shed too many tears for your poor insurance company paying for the loss that wasn’t your fault.  Your insurance company has the right to subrogate (stand in your shoes), to go after the responsible insurance company to reimburse them for the money they paid out. 

If you just can’t stomach the idea of your insurance company paying for the damage to your vehicle you can go through the negligent driver’s insurance. You must understand there will be delays.  They may disagree about what is related to the accident and they may not agree to use the type of parts or repairs that you believe are necessary. In the worst case scenario, the opposing company agrees their driver is “mostly” responsible.  However, they think you are twenty percent (20%) at fault. Accordingly, they are only going to give you a check for 80% of the cost of repair to your vehicle or 80% of the value of the vehicle if it is deemed a total loss. This is obviously unacceptable especially as it relates to the repairs. This would force you to either come out of pocket for a portion of the repairs or drive the vehicle as it is (if that is even possible) and litigate the case. 

In the event your vehicle is deemed a total loss the insurance company is responsible for reimbursing you for the “fair market value” of your vehicle.  If the cost of repair exceeds 65% of the value of the vehicle, the vehicle is deemed a total loss.  This can often be an unfortunate occurrence when you have a reliable vehicle that is paid off but is just not worth that much money.  The “fair market value” of the vehicle may be $1,500.  However, there is no way you could replace the vehicle for that amount.  This happens to my clients frequently and I hate being the bearer of bad news.  Until the law is changed, however, this is the reality of the situation. 

On a few occasions I have had clients who were unhappy with the settlement offer on their vehicle. With only one exception, I have never seen a situation in which the insurance company’s valuation was not pretty accurate.  They have a sophisticated method of determining the value of your vehicle by comparing it to sales of the same or similar vehicles in the area.  This is probably the best way to value it and it is very hard to argue the valuation is not fair when this is done.  Again, I am usually the bearer of bad news to clients in these circumstances but this is the reality of the law.

In rare cases, if the vehicle is very valuable and has lost significant value as a result of the accident, a diminution of value claim can be made.  This is not a total loss of the vehicle but it is a claim that can be made if the car is “significantly” less valuable because of the accident.

One final issue which arises is damage or loss to after-market equipment or parts that have been added to the vehicle.  With a photograph or a minimal amount of documentation I can normally get the insurance company to reimburse my clients for a good portion of the cost of the parts or equipment that was either damaged or cannot be removed.

As indicated above, although not specifically part of the scope of retention, make sure you look for an attorney who will help you through the confusing and challenging process of dealing with your property damage following a car accident.  Jones Wilson is committed to helping you in every aspect of your damages following your personal injury claim.

Have You Been Involved In A Henderson Or Las Vegas Car Accident?

If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Henderson office directly at 702.405.6000 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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