If you are driving a car and get hit in a car accident, you will suffer property damage to your vehicle. You can suffer property damage even if you were a pedestrian or bicyclist, though to a much lesser extent.
When this happens, you deserve compensation for all of your losses, including for your property damage.
Property Damage Can Be Staggeringly High
Even if a car crash did not cause any personal injuries, the costs of the property damage that it can cause can be shockingly high. Given that many cars are built with parts that are meant to be replaced rather than repaired, even a fender-bender can cost over a thousand dollars to replace a bent bumper.
Obviously, the make and the model of the vehicle will affect the costs significantly. Bumpers on new, high-end Porsches cost more than those for old Toyota Corollas.
You Are Entitled to the Costs of Repairing or Replacing Your Vehicle and Loss of Its Use
If you are in a car crash and your car is damaged, you would file an insurance claim. The insurance company would cover the costs of repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle under its collision insurance policy.
This policy generally has a deductible. You are responsible for paying up to the deductible. The policy also generally has a policy limit. Once the policy limit has been reached, the insurance company stops paying for your losses.
Missouri Regulation 20 CSR 100-1.050(2)(D) allows car insurance companies to use aftermarket car parts when repairing vehicles, so long as they are explicitly labeled in the estimate. Additionally, insurance companies can withhold compensation for “betterment” if the replacement part is worth more than the one being replaced. For example, if the crash damaged a tire that was in the last quarter of its life and it gets replaced with a new tire, the insurance company will not cover the full cost of the new wheel.
If your car needs to get replaced, you are entitled to its fair market value. This is the value of your particular vehicle, given its make, model, year, mileage, crash history, and any other issues with the vehicle. Contrary to popular belief, you are not entitled to a new car. In many cases, though, the insurance company will undervalue your vehicle in order to minimize its payout. It is up to you to prove that their offer is too low.
While your car is getting repaired or replaced, insurance companies generally have to cover the costs of renting a vehicle or alternative modes of transportation.
Compensation for Diminished Value
You may also be entitled to compensation for the diminished value that your vehicle sustained in the crash, though it will depend who was at fault.
Diminished value is how much less the vehicle is worth, due to the crash. Because the accident will be a part of the vehicle’s history, it can reduce its sale or trade-in value.
If your insurance claim was filed against your own insurance company, typically because you were at-fault for the accident, your insurer is not legally required to cover its diminished value. However, if your claim was filed against the other driver who hit you, then diminished value is recoverable in an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph
Recovering compensation for property damage is important, particularly if your vehicle was expensive or has been totaled. The car accident and personal injury lawyers at the Smith Law Office can help in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, or the rest of western Missouri. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373.