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The vehicle I depend on is damaged

What are my options if the vehicle I depend on every day is damaged by an at-fault driver?

Damage to vehicles and other property is common in traffic accidents and varies in severity. The damage might be as minor as a “fender bender,” or the vehicle may be classified as “totaled,” which is to say wholly beyond repair.

Drivers with full “collision coverage,” whose damaged vehicle is covered by their own auto-insurance, have more options than a victim who has no coverage, or so-called “liability only” coverage. They have two alternative courses of action in dealing with a damaged vehicle and/or property:

  • The first alternative is to file a claim on the victim’s own auto-insurance coverage. This may be a strategically expedient and quick option; however, even full collision coverage policies do not always include a rental car.
  • The second alternative is to rely on the at-fault driver’s liability insurance. A common obstacle with this alternative is that many drivers have no, or only limited insurance coverage. In some cases, this reflects a bad record of safe driving, or a pattern of accident involvement/causation. The at-fault driver’s insurance company is permitted to conduct their own investigation of the case, which may result in significant delays.

Drivers without collision coverage depend on the at-fault driver’s liability insurance to compensate them for property damage. The at-fault driver’s insurance company may investigate the claim, which may significantly delay payment for damaged vehicles and property. During this time, however, the driver may not be supplied with a rental car at the insurance company’s expense.

If a traffic accident caused no bodily harm but only property damage, a personal injury attorney is unlikely to develop a case around the event. This is because the value of a property damage case is hardly ever subject to argument. Even a skilled personal injury attorney can do little to increase the assessed value of damaged property since this value figure is determined objectively.

More information about car accident, personal injury, and property damage is available here.