Because there was no personal injury, most attorneys won’t take on your property damage case. For them to work at an hourly rate, you the client would actually end up losing money overall.
Knowing this, most insurance companies will give you a very low estimate on the value of your vehicle.
However, if you have received property damage from a motor vehicle collision, you can expect to be able to recover several things, instead of or in addition to the property damage:
- Firstly, the fair market value of your vehicle (if it is a total loss)
- If not a total loss, repair of your vehicle to its pre-collision condition
- A rental vehicle while your car is undergoing repair
- Compensation for each day when you were unable to use your vehicle and not provided a rental
- You can often also recover depreciation on your vehicle. Naturally, even after repair, the market value of your car will be less now that it has been involved in a collision. The difference in value before and after the accident can be significant, and you can recover this too
Sounds great, right? So how does one go about recovering all this?
Insurance companies profit by paying out as little as possible on every claim they can, and good-faith policy holders routinely receive low-ball estimates. Without an attorney to represent you, what are your options?
Option one, no surprise, is to simply accept the offer made by your insurance adjuster. After someone has been through the stress of a collision, the inconvenience of rentals and repairs, insurance professionals know that delay and resistance can erode a person’s resolve to recover full damages.
But those willing to fight just a little can file a Property Arbitration claim in the appropriate county. Aside from a nominal administrative fee of a few dollars, it costs nothing more than a little time to do this. Arbitration is a way for parties to resolve differences without going to court; both parties agree to accept the arbitrated judgment. Typically, in arbitration you will meet with three attorneys (unless both sides agree that one is sufficient) to argue your position.
Usually, arbitration will result in a better outcome for you, approaching the fair market value for your vehicle. Just simply filing the Property Arbitration claim will often result in an increased offer from your insurance adjuster.
If you’ve had an accident and aren’t satisfied with your insurance company’s offer, you don’t have to take it. Some attorneys will even offer a free consultation to discuss this area of the law.