Generally speaking, the at-fault driver's insurance company - pressuming they have accepted liability - takes car of all costs associated with the property damage aspect of our auto accident claim. I say "generally speaking" because sometimes, it is quicker and less time consuming to let your insurance company process (pay for) your property damage claim even though you are convinced that another party is at fault in situations where the other party's insurer is taking days, weeks or even months to investigate the liability consideration for the claim.
Notwithstanding, given that a property damage claim is different from your personal injury claim, and you can settle your property damage claim separately from your injury claim - more applicable in 'total loss' situations.
Months later, your insurer will pursue a 'subrogation' claim on your behalf for reimbursement of all costs that they incurred to settle your property damages including obtaining a 'refund' of your deductible for you.
DIY or Hire an Attorney?
Comparatively, since property damage claims are not as contentious as personal injury claims, you can consider handling your property damage on your own especially if your insurance company is processing the claims for the repairs or settlement of your vehicle damges. That said, an attorney may be of assistance for some property claims especially in situations where your car has been declared a total loss. In a total loss situation, the consideration is to ensure that you are receiving a fair settlement value based on the fair market value of your car on the date of the accident. Also, in (relatively few) situations where the adjuster is slow with procurement of rental car, an attorney in many cases can be helpful to be more persuasive on your behalf. Last but certainly not the least, be mindful of situations where the dynamics may change and put you in an adversarial position against your insurance company's adjuster. In those situations, you should consult with an attorney before discussing with your insurance company's adjuster example in uninsured/ undersinsured claims and/ or situations where you use your car for rideshare (but your app was not on or you were not otherwise using your vehicle for employment). Otherwise, in many situations, inserting an attorney into the property damage claim, may have the adverse effect of 'slowing down' the process. Therefore, it is a matter of judgement on a case by case basis. Notwithstanding, never speak with any adjuster about your injuries and always refer such questions to your attorney.
Insurance Adjusters - Do's & Don'ts
These are not hard and fast rules but soft considerations
Be nice and respectful to the adjuster. The point is being professional - respectful while asserting your demand - more often than not goes a long way towards a desired outcome.
Know when to say nothing. Basically, do not accept to give a recorded statement without consulting with an attorney. The rule of thumbs is you don't give a recorded statement but in some rare situations, under the guidance of an attorney, a recorded statement may be useful to conclude the issue of liability.
Never say yes to the first offer no matter how eye watering you feel it is. That said, in general, property damage claims have less negotiating room than personal injury claims so essentially, you want to review or double check the reasonableness of the valuation report that was used as a basis for your offer to find opportunities to request a higher offer.
Be mindful of what you say. In a contributory negligence state like Maryland, what you say can lead to a denial of your claim.
Property Damage Considerations
Can your car be repaired? If yes, ensure that the insurance repairs your car in a reputable shop and provides you a rental car for the duration of the repairs of your car.
Is your car a total loss? Ensure that the total loss offer reflects the fair market value of your car in comparison to similar models and body trims for sale within a reasonable mile radius from your home. In total loss cases, the insurance will terminate rental within days (3 to 7 days on average) after extending the offer to you. It is not fair but that is how the industry operates.
You did not have any car to drive rideshare (uber/lyft, etc) while your car was being repaired of settled for total loss? File a loss of use claim based on the average weekly earnings from your rideshare employment prior to the accident.
As always, if you need further assistance regarding any auto accident related claim, feel free to contact us at our number listed on this website for a free phone consultation.