The first thing on many peoples’ minds following a car accident — especially one that wasn’t their fault — is how are they going to get their car fixed. After all, even if you’re able to drive the car away from the accident scene, some damage may be lurking underneath the hood and you do not want to risk having the car break down at the worst time. You should never delay getting your car fixed after an accident!
Here are the proper steps to follow to have it covered under insurance. You should get in touch with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible first to ensure your rights are protected at every one of these steps.
Step 1: Get to a safe location
Your safety is the number 1 priority. Get yourself to a safe location first in order to exchange information with the other driver. We know that moving the car may depend on the extent of damage. For example, if your car is totaled, you will need to get it towed to a repair shop. If the car is driveable, then you may be able to drive it to safety— but be careful.
Step 2: Contact the other driver’s insurance
You should contact the other driver’s insurance company to let them know you are making a claim as soon as possible after the accident. They will either send an adjuster or appraisal company to look at your car where it is OR ask that you take the car to an auto repair shop on their preferred list or another specified location.
Step 3: Get estimates on the cost of repair
In this step, the insurance company is trying to get an estimate on the cost of repair. Many times, the person or place you take it to will be able to handle communication with the insurance company in order to report the estimated cost. Some insurance companies may even require that you obtain bids from two or three different shops and then they will approve the median or lowest amount.
After you get a cost estimate to the insurance company, it is a good idea to take your car to a body shop of your choice for another estimate. This is so that you can get a second opinion to see whether the insurance company is playing fair.
Furthermore, the insurance company cannot force you to use their mechanic, but they can certainly make it more difficult for you if you choose a shop they don’t approve of.
Step 4: Assess the estimates
When you talk to the insurance company about all of the estimates, make sure you understand what you’re responsible for paying: the deductible. Bear in mind that if the deductible is higher than the repair estimate, then you’ll have to pay out of pocket to fix your vehicle.
In general, it is at the discretion of the at-fault drivers insurance company to give an amount they think is sufficient. If you disagree with the insurance company regarding the repair costs, you can try sending the written appraisals you received from other repair shops. At this point, you should probably get a personal injury lawyer involved to push back with the insurance adjuster if they are not being reasonable.
Step 5: Get the car fixed
Once again, you do not have to go with the repair shop that the insurance company chooses. You are able to get the payment amount and take it to any repair shop of your choice.
If the mechanic finds more damage while making repairs (which is common) ask the shop to contact the insurer to obtain approval to make the repair and to try to get them to add it to the auto insurance settlement.
We know that these steps might not be linear; we know that the insurance company doesn’t always play fair; and we know that the settlement process can be long, drawn-out, and have many factors at play.
What’s important is that you get your car fixed so that you can continue life as normal as soon as possible. In the meantime, we’ll handle negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf.
Car Accident Lawyer | The Hayden Law Firm
If you have been injured in a car accident where the fault is in question, do not hesitate to contact us or call St. Louis personal injury lawyer Amanda Hayden at (314) 480-3100 for a free, no-risk consultation