One of the unfortunate side effects of a collision is that a person probably needs pricey repairs to their car. Even slow-motion accidents can cause considerable internal damage, and many motorists find they need to shell out thousands of dollars to get their car back up and running.
At MG Law, our lawyers have helped injured motorists get compensation for their bodily injuries for years. In this post, we address a slightly different issue—whether they can receive money to pay to fix their car. The answer is a big “it depends.” Read on for more information.
Determining Who Was At Fault for the Accident
Georgia is a “fault” state when it comes to car accidents, and fault matters considerably. Georgia requires that motorists carry liability insurance before they can register a vehicle, and this liability insurance has two parts:
- Bodily injury liability. This pays compensation when a motorist is physically injured. It can cover the cost of medical care and lost wages, along with pain and suffering and emotional distress.
- Property damage liability. This coverage will pay compensation to replace damaged property, including making car repairs.
If another driver was at fault for the collision, you should make a claim for compensation on their property damage liability coverage. Unfortunately, you can’t make a claim with them if you were at fault.
Using Collision Coverage
Collision coverage can come in handy when you need car repairs following an accident. Its primary benefit is that it is no-fault insurance. This means you can tap it even if you were to blame for the accident. You could rear-end someone because you were following too closely or sideswipe another vehicle because you refused to yield—and you can still receive benefits to fix your car.
Unfortunately, Georgia doesn’t require collision coverage but leaves it up to the individual consumer to decide whether to buy it. Many people decline. However, your lender might have required this coverage if you have a car loan, because it helps protect the value of your vehicle. Go through your paperwork and check. It is a terrific benefit to have, and you might want to buy a policy especially if your car retains considerable value.
Making a Claim for Compensation
A lawyer can include the cost of repairs in any settlement. We have found that many insurers are more eager to settle the property damage portion of the claim, often because there is little dispute about its value.
To make a claim, contact the appropriate insurance company. This could be the at-fault driver’s insurer or your own collision carrier. Report the accident.
Insurers differ slightly on what happens next. Some might send an adjuster out to look at your car, so you should not immediately get it repaired. The adjuster might ask that you take the car to a certain mechanic for a repair estimate. In other situations, you might be able to choose the mechanic.
The insurance company will need to decide how much your claim is worth, and they look at many factors, such as fault and the condition of your vehicle. Georgia recognizes “contributory negligence,” which can reduce the value of your claim. For example, your own carelessness could be 30% to blame for the accident, in which case you’ll receive 30% less than you otherwise would in compensation.
You might disagree with the insurer’s settlement offer. Our lawyers recommend finding documentation to back up your claim. For example, a different mechanic than the one handpicked by the insurer might state that the cost of repairs will be more.
Remember, you will only receive repairs that put your car back in the position it was right before the crash. You will not receive compensation to make the car as good as new—unless you got into a collision as you were driving it off the dealer’s lot.
Also, an insurer will only pay for repairs up to the policy limit. In Georgia, motorists must carry $25,000 in property damage liability coverage. If your car needs $40,000 in repairs, you will not receive that much.
Choosing Your Body Shop
One issue that comes up a lot is whether you can choose the body shop you take your car to. Some insurers might tell you where to take it, but the shop might perform poor repairs. According to WSB-TV 2 Allstate has sent people to network repair shops that do terrible work. One shop use plastic filler on the body of their vehicle. In all, Allstate only comped the motorist $11,700 when the car really needed over $19,000 in repair work.
As we know, insurers like to nickel and dime consumers who make claims. And using in-network body shops is one way to cut corners, with consumers left holding the bag.
Assessing the Quality of Repairs
Body shops vary widely in the quality of work that they do. Some will use any parts they can find and Bondo to keep your car held together. Shoddy work can dramatically reduce the car’s value, costing you thousands when you trade it in or try to sell it. Poor repairs also might not last very long.
When negotiating with an insurer, try to get them to use original equipment manufacturers (OEM) parts instead of after-market parts made by different companies. Even better, try to avoid using recycled parts on your car. Recycled parts might be cheaper and more readily available, but they will not be of the same quality.
Suing the Other Driver
When another driver is at fault, you can choose to bring a lawsuit against the driver personally. This might be the only option if the driver does not have liability coverage and you don’t have collision coverage. It might also be an option if the cost of repairs exceeds the other driver’s policy limit.
However, bringing a lawsuit is complicated. The reality is that many motorists don’t have other assets, so insurance is the only pool of money to pay compensation. Our accident attorneys can review whether a personal lawsuit makes sense in your situation.
Does Your Car Need Repairs?
If you are struggling to get an insurer to cover repairs, contact MG Law today. One of our attorneys will happily review your case to decide the best method for obtaining compensation.