When your vehicle is damaged in an accident, you will want to have it repaired and back out on the road as quickly as possible. Many motorists are not sure what to do after an accident or if they can use the vehicle as soon as possible without compromising any of their legal rights.
A car accident attorney can explain how all of these issues apply in your specific case. However, please find a few common questions and answers below. This car accident FAQ is a helpful starting point, but each case varies. That is why there is no substitute for getting help from an actual attorney after sharing details about your case.
Car Accident FAQ:
Q: Who decides where the car is repaired?
A: You can decide where your vehicle is repaired, however the insurance company will decide how much they will pay for repairs and that sum may not always cover the total repair bill from a particular repair shop.
Q: Will the repair shop charge me for storage?
A: The insurance company of the person who caused the accident is responsible for towing and storage costs. If the vehicle is determined to be a total loss, the insurance company will pay to have it moved to a salvage or wrecking yard. If you do not allow the company to move your vehicle, you will be liable for any storage or towing fees.
Q: Who decides if my vehicle is repairable or "totaled"?
A: The insurance company who is liable for payment of repairs can decide that your vehicle is not worth repairing. If the cost of the labor and parts exceeds the market value of your vehicle, the company can declare it a "total loss" and pay you the market value. Market value is determined by the fair market value of similar vehicles in your area, or from an independent source such as the Kelley Blue Book. If you want to keep the vehicle after it has been declared a total loss, you will have to pay the salvage value to the insurance company.
Q: Who pays the bank loan if my vehicle is financed?
A: You are still liable for any loans on the vehicle. If the fair market value of your vehicle is less than the outstanding loan, you are still required to pay the entire amount of the loan.
Q: Do I get a rental vehicle while my vehicle is being repaired?
A: You always can get a rental vehicle if you are willing to pay for it. If you want the insurance company to pay for a rental while your vehicle is being repaired or replaced, then payment depends on several factors.
If you caused the accident, check to see if your own insurance coverage includes rental vehicles. Many policies do not include rental vehicles unless specifically stated. If the other driver caused the accident, then you can expect the liable person's insurance company to pay the costs of providing you with a rental vehicle. The vehicle will be substitute for your own vehicle—a vehicle of similar quality. Be sure to check with your own insurance company about insurance coverage on the rental vehicle.
Q: I just paid for my license plates; do I have to pay for new ones?
A: The insurance company should pay the prorated amount of any registration fees that are unused, as well as transfer fees for the new registrations.
Legal Help After an Auto Accident
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of a car accident, the Rothenberg Law firm can provide the experienced legal help you need. The firm can be reached at 1-800-624-8888 or you can fill out a free online case evaluation form. The initial consultation is always free. If we decide to pursue your case, there is no legal fee unless we are successful in getting you money.
Timing is important, because statutes of limitation affect how long you have to file a claim.