The Law Office of Doug Goyen represents people with personal injuries, including personal injuries from auto accidents. Every day our Dallas auto accident lawyers receive phone calls regarding property damage issues related to vehicles and issues related to property damage auto insurance needed to fix vehicles. We can help deal with the property damage part of the case as part of our personal injury representation.
The Law Office of Doug Goyen does not accept automobile accident cases where there are no personal injuries. Attorney Goyen has been licensed as a lawyer in Texas since 1997. If you need a personal injury lawyer for your car accident case calls us for a free phone consultation. There is no fee unless you win.
Property Damage Auto Insurance to fix Vehicles
Most claims from automobile accidents have a claim for the property damage issues with vehicles. Many property damage auto insurance issues arise from the use of the insurance involved. One of the top questions is “how do I go about getting my car fixed?” As a Dallas car wreck lawyer since 1997, and as a claims adjuster from 1989 – 1997, our insight into the process helps to explain how it works, and what generally is best to get your vehicle repaired while protecting your rights.
The following types of auto insurance can be used to fix your vehicle:
1) Liability Insurance. Is the only type of insurance that is required in Texas if you drive a car. Texas Transportation Code section 601.051 is the financial responsibility law in Texas. This coverage is required to protect others in the event of negligence causing damage or injury to someone or something else as a result of your carelessness.
2) Uninsured Motorist Coverage Property Damage. If you were injured in an automobile accident and believe you may need to use your Uninsured Motorist Coverage to pay for your claim. In this case, your insurance company steps into the shoes of the uninsured driver’s insurance, which they should have had.
3) Collision Coverage. Collision insurance typically includes a deductible for vehicle repair. This applies to any collision-related incident, regardless of fault; you can use this insurance to repair a vehicle that has been damaged as a result of the collision.
4) Comprehensive Coverage. Your comprehensive insurance policy covers theft, vandalism, weather damage, hail, and other types of vehicle damage. You are usually required to pay a deductible for comprehensive insurance claims
5) Rental Reimbursement Coverage. You have a couple of options for rental. If you have rental reimbursement coverage on your own insurance policy you can use it for a rental car. If liability has been cleared with the other driver’s insurance, they will often set up a direct bill for the rental of the car through the other driver’s liability insurance.
6) Towing Insurance. If you have towing coverage on your own policy, you can use your towing coverage to reimburse you for the towing cost. If the other driver’s liability insurance has accepted liability, you can submit the towing bill to the other driver’s insurance.
Each case is different, but these are some helpful tips for your property damage issues when dealing with auto insurance after an auto accident.
1) Report Accident to your Insurance: First, even if the other driver is at fault, contact your insurance to report the claim to your insurance company. Let them know that you are only reporting it, but that you plan on going through the at-fault person’s insurance to get your vehicle repaired if possible if the other driver is at fault.
The reason you report it is that you have a contractual obligation to report any auto collision, whether you are at fault or not, to your insurance company.
They have the right to do their own investigation to make sure they aren’t responsible for anything. If you fail to report the accident to your insurance company, you are violating your insurance policy and risk losing coverage. Report the accident.
Your insurance company will do an investigation. The other guy’s insurance company gives him the benefit of the doubt, your insurance company gives you the benefit of the doubt. Your insurance will only find against you if the facts are against you. Their investigation will typically help you with regard to liability if you are not at fault.
(Important: If you are injured do not give a recorded interview to your insurance company or the other insurance company without getting advice from an attorney first).
2) Report Accident to At-Fault Person’s Insurance: If the other person is at fault, tell their insurance company that you would like them to pay for the damage to your vehicle. Insurance companies have several methods for confirming your property damage.
First, if your vehicle is not safely drivable, they will send an appraiser to wherever your vehicle is located to do an estimate or have it towed to a location where it can be inspected.
Second, if drivable, they may want you to bring the vehicle to one of the appraiser’s locations or a body shop for an estimate. They will often accept the estimate that is written by the body shop in question.
3) Estimates & Supplements:
Original Estimate: The insurance company that is paying for the repairs will write an “original estimate” for the repair of your vehicle, and will typically write a check or draft for that original estimate.
The first thing to remember, this is just an estimate. It is not a final number. Take the estimate to the repair facility you want to use. Your shop starts the repairs based on the estimate.
Supplements: If the estimate does not cover all the damage, the body shop will contact the insurance company for a “supplement”. The body shop informs the insurance company that the estimate did not cover everything that needs to be repaired.
Often insurance companies assume a part can be repaired rather than replaced. When the body shop starts doing the work, if it cannot be repaired, they will inform the insurance company and ask for the money to replace the part. Often the damage cannot be fully seen until the car is taken apart during the repair process. Once the vehicle is taken apart, and the unseen damage is confirmed, they will contact the insurance company for a supplemental check.
4) Hold On to Property Damage Check for Leverage with Body Shop: Do not give the body shop your check from the insurance company until the repairs are done. You will hand over the check once the repairs are complete.
If you give the body shop the original estimate check before the repairs are complete, you will have no leverage to get the shop to correct any problems with the repairs you see.
When the body shop says the work is done, inspect the work done before giving them the check. With the original estimate check, you have the leverage to make sure the work is done correctly, or they don’t get the check signed over.
If your vehicle is financed, the insurance company will have the check made out to you and your body shop (or to you and your lienholder). This is required in Texas.
So once again, DO NOT give the check to the body shop until the work is complete to your satisfaction.
5) Investigation Period: Often, the at-fault driver’s insurance will need to complete an investigation prior to confirming they will pay for the damage. Delays can occur in several areas:
a) If their driver does not call the claim in – they will not pay until their insured reports the accident to them. If their driver NEVER reports the accident, their insurance company can attempt to cancel coverage for the accident for “lack of cooperation”. Insurance policies require the insured to cooperate with the investigation. If you do not let your insurance company know your version of what happened, you aren’t cooperating.
b) If their driver changes their story and claims he was not at fault, the insurance company may need to order the police report, talk to witnesses, and other investigations in order to confirm liability.
c) There may be a question of coverage – maybe payment was late or missed. Maybe someone is driving the vehicle who was not supposed to be driving, maybe this was a “road rage” incident, and the insurance company wants to verify if their driver “intentionally” ran into you (if they hit you on purpose – there may be no coverage – liability insurance does not cover intentional acts).
During the above investigation, there will be a delay in paying for your vehicle.
If the insurance company says they are “investigating liability”, this means they are looking for a way out of paying. You may want to file under your collision coverage under your own insurance. Your insurance will start the repair process, and then when the other insurance company completes their investigation, if they confirm they are going to pay, they will take over from your insurance company and pay the body shop when the repair is complete.
If the other insurance’s investigation drags out, or if they deny liability, then your insurance company can pay for the claim and then collect against the other insurance company to get their money back if facts are on your side (plus they will collect for your deductible).
6) Rental Car & Towing: You can ask the other person’s liability insurance company to pay for your rental car. They can do this one of two ways,
a) they will do a “direct bill” where the rental car company sends the bill directly to the insurance company to pay it, or
b) they can ask that you pay the bill to the rental car company, and reimburse you afterward.
Either way, be careful. Insurance companies are notorious for nickel and diming people on their rental car bills. They will not pay for the “extra insurance” the rental car company tries to get you to purchase.
The insurance company will not pay for the time your car is just sitting in the body shop not being repaired (if your car is drivable), so be sure to ask the body shop if they will be able to start the repairs immediately when you drop it off, otherwise, you will need to wait until they are ready to start the work – so you don’t get stuck with the rental car bill. This is called “mitigating your damages”, keeping your rental car bill to a minimum.
7) Total Loss Issues: What is a total loss? If the property has been destroyed beyond repair. Under your own insurance policy, this is defined by the contractual terms – which say the insurance company will pay the lesser of the value to repair your vehicle or the value of the vehicle itself.
When going under the at-fault person’s liability insurance, there is no such contractual definition, so we fall back on what the law says, which is that the property cannot be repaired.
Disputes related to property damage and the appraisal process when dealing with first-party insurance. If you have a dispute regarding the damage to your vehicle or the value of your vehicle that cannot be resolved, and the amount is for a substantial sum, you may need to turn to the appraisal process in your auto policy to resolve the dispute.
Insurance to fix property damage to vehicles is used on a daily basis in Texas. Our office does not handle most “property damage only” cases – where the only dispute is regarding property damage. We only accept injury cases in auto accidents. We do, however, help our clients who have been injured in accidents with their property damage claims and so we do have over 23 years of experience handling property damage issues related to auto accidents. If you have a property damage issue and you have a personal injury case related to that accident, we can help. Call at (972) 599 4100.
If you have been injured in your collision in the Dallas, Texas area, contact the Law Office of Doug Goyen. Doug Goyen has worked as a Dallas car wreck lawyer and personal injury attorney on both the insurance companies’ side from 1989 – 1997 as an adjuster and from 1998 to the present as an attorney.
By Doug Goyen, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Law Office of Doug Goyen
15851 Dallas Pkwy #605
Addison, Texas 75001
(972) 599 4100 phone
(972) 398 2629 fax
Directions to our office: We are on the southbound side of the service road to the Tollway. Stay on the Dallas North Tollway until you come to the Keller Springs exit. Take the Keller Spring exit. Stay on the service road on the southbound side and go just past Keller Springs. Our office is the 2nd building south of Keller Springs, located on the service road to the North Dallas Tollway in the Madison Business Center on the 6th floor.
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