Most Lakeland car accidents damage one or more of the vehicles involved, and sometimes even to the items within the vehicle. Fortunately, Florida Law allows individuals to recover compensation for the damage to their property. Most property damage claims are resolved quickly between the person making the claim and the insurance company. However, that is not always the case.
Who Will Pay for My Property Damage?
To properly answer this question, we must look at a few different scenarios.
Scenario 1) If the other party is at fault and has property damage liability insurance, their insurance company will pay up to the insurance coverage available on that policy.
Scenario 2) If the other party is at-fault but does not have property damage liability insurance, your own insurance will pay for the damage if you have purchased collision coverage on your policy. In this scenario, your insurance company will pay for the damages minus any required deductible.
Scenario 3) If neither you nor the at-fault party has insurance coverage, you have the right to seek recovery from the at-fault party directly. However, in most of these situations, if the at-fault party does not have insurance, they typically do not have the personal funds to pay for the repairs. It’s in your best interest to consult with an attorney to investigate whether a claim in this scenario is practical.
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Scenario 4) If you are at fault for the accident and you have collision coverage on your insurance policy, you can seek recovery from your own insurance company. In this scenario, you will not be able to make a claim for property damage repairs from the other party’s insurance company. Again, when making a claim for collision coverage on your own insurance policy, your insurance company will pay for the damages minus any required deductible.
There are numerous possible scenarios. The scenarios above are just the most common occurrences. If you have any questions or concerns or need legal advice, please consult an attorney. At Dismuke Law, PLLC, we are happy to assist in any way we can.
How Much Am I Entitled to Recover?
Generally, you are entitled to recover the difference between what your car was worth immediately before the accident and what your car was worth immediately after the accident. That amount is determined in one of two ways:
- If the vehicle can be repaired, the recovery amount is the cost of repairing the vehicle. A property damage claims adjuster will assess the damage and make an estimate of the repair costs. If the repair shop later finds damage that was overlooked or underestimated, the shop will contact the adjuster to work out an additional payment.
- If the vehicle is totaled, the recovery amount is the “fair market value”.
Generally, the insurance company has the sole option to repair your vehicle or to reimburse you for the value of the vehicle. Typically, if the cost of repair is more than 80% of the “fair market value”, the insurance company will total your car and pay you the market value. However, that decision is at the discretion of the insurance company.
How Is “Fair Market Value” Determined?
Fair market value is typically determined by evaluating what your vehicle (or a similar vehicle) is selling for in the local retail market. This can be determined by an expert vehicle appraiser, by Auto Trader listings, or other sources. The “fair market value” is not always equal to the Blue Book value.
Can I Choose Where My Vehicle Is Repaired?
Yes, as long as the repair shop is licensed.
What If I Owe More on My Car Loan Than the “Fair Market Value”?
If you owe more on your car loan than the “fair market value” of the vehicle, this is referred to as being “upside-down” on the loan. The insurance company is not required to consider the amount owed on a car loan when determining the value of your vehicle.
If you have GAP coverage on your insurance policy, it may pay the difference between what is owed on the loan and what the insurance company has paid.
When you do not have GAP coverage, you may choose to discuss the substitution of collateral with your lender. If the lender agrees, the insurance proceeds may be used to purchase another vehicle and have that vehicle stand as security for the loan.
Am I Entitled to a Rental Car While My Vehicle Is Being Repaired?
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If another party was responsible for the accident, you are entitled to recover for the loss of use of your vehicle. The amount of loss is typically determined by the cost of renting a replacement vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired. While the insurance company is required to pay for the rental, they are not required to arrange a rental car for you. Sometimes, you must pay the rental car bill yourself and be reimbursed by the insurance company later. Click here to learn more about this.
Can I Make a Property Damage Claim for Items Other Than My Vehicle?
Yes. You can also make a claim for personal items that were damaged in the accident, such as children’s car seats, eyeglasses, or other contents in your vehicle.
When Should I Contact an Attorney?
The short answer is as soon as possible. Once you have received all necessary emergency medical care, call our experienced legal team at (863) 292-6922or file out our online contact form. The consultation is free and we can begin evaluating your claim right away to help you determine how best to proceed.