What is the Quickest Way to Get My Car fixed After a California Auto Accident?
If you were involved in a motor vehicle collision in California, you might be left to deal with your injuries and expensive car repairs. When the other driver was at fault, you should not be responsible for paying for the damages to your vehicle. California is a fault state for collisions, meaning that the at-fault motorist and his or her insurance company should pay for both your injuries and your other losses, including the costs of repairing your vehicle.
However, the claims process can be lengthy when you're dealing with an at-fault driver's insurance company. The company will likely dispute liability or extend a low-ball offer to you. The steps you take right after your collision are critical for proving your damages and the other driver's liability. If you take the right approach, you can pursue the maximum amount for your losses. Here is some information about how to get your car fixed following a California collision.1. Who is Responsible for Paying for My Car Repairs?
Since California is an at-fault state for motor vehicle crashes, the party who caused the wreck is generally responsible for paying the other motorist for his or her losses, including the costs of repairing any damage to the other motorist's vehicle. However, when you're dealing with someone else's insurer, the company will likely try to minimize how much it might have to pay out on your claim or avoid paying altogether. In some cases, an insurer will dispute the liability of its insured, and the claims process can be lengthy.2. What Options Do I Have For Getting My Car Repaired?
If you were not at fault for your collision, you have the following two options for getting your vehicle repaired:
- File a claim with the other motorist's insurer
- File a claim with your own insurer if you have collision coverage
You can also try to get the other driver to agree to pay the costs of your repairs directly. However, it is generally not a good idea to try to deal directly with an at-fault driver instead of going through an insurance company. If you do not file a claim, the other driver might try to claim you were at fault and pursue a claim against you. Make sure you promptly report your collision to the police and the involved insurance companies.
If you were at fault, you will either need to go through your insurer under your collision coverage to get your repairs covered. If you do not have collision coverage, you will need to pay for your repairs out-of-pocket.3. What are the Pros and Cons of Filing a Claim With the At-Fault Party's Insurance Company?
If you open a claim with the at-fault motorist's insurance policy, you will not have to pay for your deductible. You are only responsible for paying your deductible when you go through your own company, but you are not responsible for it when you go through the at-fault driver's insurer.
However, going through the at-fault driver's insurer has several disadvantages. Since the company is not your insurer but instead insures the other driver, it will not have your interests at heart. You will likely be told that the insurer has to confirm that its insured was liable before it will accept your claim. This means that the at-fault driver's insurer will want to get your version of what happened and its insured's version of what occurred.
To do so, the company will investigate what happened before it will agree to accept your claim. If the other motorist lies about what occurred, the company might deny your claim and dispute its insured's liability. If that happens, you will have to file a lawsuit against the company and go through the legal process to receive compensation to pay for your car repairs and other losses. This process could mean that you are left without your vehicle for months.4. What are the Pros and Cons of Going Through Your Own Company?
If you have collision coverage, you can file a claim with your own insurer. Doing so is much likelier to result in an expedited claim so that you can repair the damage to your vehicle much faster. Your policy might also provide coverage for an auto rental so that you can get to where you need to go while you wait for your repairs to be completed.
If the at-fault driver was uninsured or underinsured, you can also file a claim with your company under your uninsured motorists/underinsured motorists policy as long as you have it. All insurers in California must offer UM/UIM coverage at the time you purchase your policy. While you are not required to carry it, it's a good idea to add UM/UIM coverage to your policy to protect you from situations in which you are involved in an auto collision with a driver who is uninsured or who has insufficient coverage to pay for your losses. UM/UIM coverage will pay for your injuries and car repairs up to a predetermined amount.
One of the disadvantages of going through your own insurer is that you might have to pay a deductible. Depending on your policy, your deductible might be anywhere from $250 and $1,000 and must be paid upfront before your coverage will kick in. However, some insurance carriers will agree to waive your deductible if they know that a third party was at fault for the collision. Your insurer might either waive your deductible or file a subrogation claim against the at-fault driver's insurance company. When it recovers money from the at-fault driver's insurer, your company will reimburse you for the amount you had to pay for your deductible.5. What if the Insurer Tells Me to Go to a Specific Repair Shop?
Under California law, you have the right to take your vehicle to whichever repair shop you want. You do not have to get your car repaired at a shop the insurer wants you to go to and can instead take it to the shop you prefer. This is true regardless of whether you file a claim with your insurer or the at-fault driver's company.6. What are the Benefits of Working With an Attorney?
Dealing with the claims process can be a real hassle whether you are dealing with your own company or that of the at-fault driver who caused your collision. If you have also suffered injuries in addition to vehicle damage, the process can be even more complex. When you work with an experienced attorney, your lawyer can help the claims process to run much more smoothly. An attorney can get a copy of the police report, investigate what happened, gather evidence showing the at-fault party's liability, and present evidence to the claims adjuster demonstrating the validity of your claim.
When you have the help of an experienced attorney from the Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC, you can focus on recovering from your injuries while your lawyer deals with all aspects of your claim on your behalf. Your attorney might be able to get the at-fault driver's insurer to accept your claim and fix or replace your vehicle. If your attorney cannot secure a fair settlement offer, he or she can file a lawsuit and litigate the matter on your behalf through the court process. For help with your accident claim and to learn more about your rights, contact us today for a free consultation at 866-966-5240.