Car Repair Questions
Can I control whether my car is repaired or
How is the market value of my car determined?
What if I am �upside down� on the loan for my
Can I choose my own repair shop?
What kind of parts will be used in the repair?
What if my car already had some damage
before the accident?
Will I have to pay the towing and storage costs?
What about license and registration fees that I
had to pay to drive the car?
Rental Car Questions
What if I need a rental car? Do I have to pay for
it while my car is being repaired?
What kind of rental car am I entitled to?
Should I purchase any extra insurance on the rental
car provided to me?
This can be a difficult issue. For most people, getting back into their own
vehicle, so long as it is safe, it a priority. Normally, the insurance company
has the option to either repair or replace your vehicle, depending on whether it
costs less to replace your vehicle than to repair it. If this is the case, the
insurance company will declare your vehicle a "total loss," and take action to
replace your vehicle. If your car is declared a "total loss," the insurance
company buys your car for its market value (see below), which can be difficult
to determine. If you wish to keep the wrecked car, you may purchase it back
from the insurance company for its salvage value. The insurance adjuster can
deduct the salvage value from the settlement and you can keep the car.
Often the situation is reversed, and the insurance company chooses to repair a
vehicle rather than replace it. In this case, if you are concerned about the
safety of the repaired vehicle, you should contact our office to discuss your
You are entitled to recover the "fair market value" or the "actual cash value"
of your vehicle immediately before the accident. One common source used to
estimate fair market value is the Kelley
Blue Book. Other sources of information are the local newspaper or the Auto
Trader, which may list the for-sale price of cars of the same make, model, and
year as yours. Occasionally, an expert vehicle appraiser is used to help prove
the value of your vehicle.
If you owe more money on the loan for the car than the fair market value of the
car, you are "upside down" on the loan. Unfortunately, if your vehicle is a
total loss, the insurance company is not required to pay more money to you
simply because you are "upside down" with your car loan. They are only obligated
to pay the "fair market value" of your car.
Yes. You always have the right to decide who will repair your vehicle, however
the cost of the repair is not always determined by the estimate given by the
repair facility of your choosing.
You have the right to demand that only original manufacturer parts be used in
the repair, so if your car is a Pontiac, you should receive genuine Pontiac (GM)
parts. Since your car was probably not new at the time of the accident, however,
the mechanic may use refurbished or reconditioned parts.
If your vehicle had damage to it prior to the accident, it can be difficult to
determine exactly what portion of the damage was caused by the accident itself.
For example, if your car has a mechanical problem, the insurance company may
claim that it existed prior to the accident if some evidence indicates that
there was substantial wear and tear. Therefore, it is important that you prove
the connection between the auto accident and the damage you are claiming.
Ordinarily, mechanics and collision repair personnel can help to prove the age
of body damage or the cause of a mechanical failure. They can assist to convince
the insurance company that the auto accident caused the damage you are claiming.
In most cases, unless there is a dispute as to who was at fault in the accident,
the insurance company for the driver who caused the accident will pay the
reasonable towing and storage costs (if necessary) of your car. After
evaluating the vehicle, if the insurance company declares the car a total loss,
they will have the car moved to a wrecking yard or a free storage area. If you
refuse to allow the insurance company to move your car, however, you will have
to pay the storage costs from the day of your refusal forward, or you can pay to
have it towed to your home.
In order to drive your vehicle, you had to pay a tag fee and registration fees.
You are entitled to be reimbursed for the prorated amount of these costs that
are unused. The insurance company should also reimburse you for tag transfer
fees and, in some cases, a prorated amount of sales tax on the actual cash value
of the car at the time of the accident.
If you caused the accident, or if there is a dispute over who is to blame, then
you must either pay for the rental car yourself or seek coverage under your own
insurance policy if rental coverage is available. Many insurance contracts do
not provide for rental coverage for their own customers, so you need to contact
your insurance agent to determine what coverage exists. If the other driver is
at fault, then we will demand that the insurance company for the person who
caused the accident provide you with a rental car for the time needed to repair
your vehicle. Sometimes, you must pay the rental car bill first, with
reimbursement coming from the insurance company later.
The insurance company has to pay for the reasonably incurred rental cost of a
substitute vehicle. Often, there are disputes as to what qualifies as a �substitute�
vehicle. Essentially, it should be a vehicle of similar quality, within the
confines of what is available for rent.
Your own insurance policy should cover you while driving the rental car, but you
should call your insurance agent to be sure that you are covered. The other
driver�s insurance company is not required to pay for additional insurance if
you choose to purchase it from the car rental company.
In all automobile accident cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly
to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to enable
physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you
or a loved one is a victim of an automobile accident, call Buchanan & Buchanan, P.L.C.
now at (616) 458-2464 or Toll Free: (800) 272-4080 or CLICK
HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of
charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee
basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary
award or recovery of funds. Don�t delay! You may have a valid claim and be
entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before
the statute of limitations expires.