What Can I Do About Property Damage to my Car After a Wreck?

Don't panic. You have just been in a wreck and your vehicle was totaled or determined to be undriveable. The other driver was put at fault by the investigating officer. What do you do now?

  1. Take note of which towing service takes your vehicle. This is after you take tons of pictures to the damage on your vehicle and the other vehicles.
  2. Contact the at fault driver's insurance information that is located on the FR-10, or green incident report, completed by the officer.
  3. Report the wreck to the at fault driver's insurance company but do not agree to a recorded statement or further inquiry on the phone.
  4. Identify to the at fault driver's insurance company that your vehicle was damaged and you need a rental.
  5. If the at fault driver disputes the officer's determination of liability (that they were indeed at fault) then the at fault driver's insurance company will dispute paying for your vehicle and giving you a rental.
  6. Order the more detailed FR-50, two page accident report, from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles.  (You will have to send in $6.00 so click on the hyperlink for the address).
  7. Demand a rental car of like kind. They will say no, but ask and plead anyway.
  8. If your car is determined to be "totaled", then you will need to determine the value of your car based upon its mileage, year, overall condition, and essentially what it would take to replace exactly what you had before the wreck. 
  9. Go to Autotrader.com, Edmonds.com, NADAguides.com, or KBB.com and try and find a vehicle just like yours within a 50 mile radius of where you live to get an idea of what your vehicle is worth. Send those examples to the adjuster if you do not like the number they offer.
  10. Two (2) claims arise out of the majority of wrecks: a property damage claim and a personal injury claim.  Make sure if you settle your property damage claim that you ONLY settle your property damage claim and not your personal injury claim. Yes, insurance companies trick people all the time by having them sign away both claims.
  11. If the at fault driver's insurance company is taking an inordinate amount of time and you have coverage on your insurance, then file your property claim with your insurance company. Yes, the otherside was at fault but this will get the problem solved and you will be reimbursed your deductible when the at fault driver's insurance company finally pays.
  12. If you are not provided a rental vehicle immediately after the wreck and you are without your vehicle for a period of time before you are offered a settlement on your property damage. You are entitled to "loss of use" for the time you are without your vehicle. The owner may recover the value of the automobile’s use during the time in which he was necessarily deprived of its use. Adams v. Orr, 260 S.C. 92, 98 (S.C. 1973).
     

My clients are most frustrated with property damage. I am most interested in your personal injury claim. That is why I provide you with this very comprehensive guideline when dealing with insurance companies over property claims.

If you have questions about your insurance policy, read my "Full Coverage" article.

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Comments (1) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Karen Astin - February 5, 2009 4:18 PM

This is GREAT! When I first got my license and would drive around town- I left a little notebook in my car with all sorts of things I had to do in varying situations (car accidents being one of them). I figured that if I was ever in an accident I'd probably be pretty shaken up and may not be thinking about all of those things- so I'd just take out the notebook. It has since been misplaced but now- I have this to print off!

Many Thanks.

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