You hear the sound of metal on metal and your heart sinks. Someone has damaged your car. When your car is wrecked, your life seems to be on hold. So much of what we do depends on having reliable transportation. Therefore, it is essential that your car gets repaired or replaced promptly. When you simply can’t take the time from your busy life to jump through seemingly endless hoops, it makes sense to consult an Arizona property damage attorney to accelerate the process and see that you receive fair value when repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle.
Replace or Repair?
When your car has been badly damaged, you may be unsure if you should repair the damage or replace the car entirely. Under Arizona law, you may not have a choice. In this state, when your car has been wrecked by another driver’s error, that driver’s insurance company gets to decide which way to go. When you have an experienced auto accident attorney working for you, in some cases, your lawyer can assist you in negotiating with the other insurance company so you’ll have a better shot at getting your preference. But insurance companies often have a predetermined limit on how much they will spend on repairing a car, and will make that decision based how the market value of the car compares to the cost of repairs.
Determining the Replacement Value of Your Car
According to Arizona law, the amount the insurance company pays to replace your car is not necessarily the Kelly Blue Book value, but rather the market value of the vehicle before the accident. Market value is determined by finding comparable sales in your area. Your lawyer will help identify appropriate “comps” and make a case for the best possible property damage payout. You can get an idea what your car is selling for on the open market by looking at classified ads for cars of the same make, model, and mileage as yours. When a fair value has been determined for your damaged vehicle, the insurance company will write you a check for that amount, rather than present you with a comparable car.
A common issue arises when you owe more on the damaged car than the market value. This is often the case when you have just purchased the car and are financing it. This is a sticky situation and one in which having a good attorney working for you can often make a difference. Sometimes your lawyer can negotiate a payoff that covers closer to what you owe or can work out an agreement with the lender to accept the amount of the payoff to satisfy the loan.
Having Damage Repaired
You may have a particular repair shop that you trust and with whom you feel comfortable doing business. The insurance company may tell you that you need to have the repairs made at a particular place or that you need to choose a shop from a list they provide for you. As your lawyer will explain to you, you are not limited to the shops the insurance company prefers. You’re entitled to select any reputable shop or have the work done at the dealership. It’s up to you. Your lawyer will see to it that the insurance company doesn’t attempt to force you to use “their” shop and will protect your right of choice
Getting a Rental Car
The insurance company covering the person who caused the accident that damaged your car is responsible for providing you with a rental car while your car is being fixed, or while you are waiting for them to issue your payoff check for a replacement. Sometimes insurers are frustratingly slow to resolve property damage claims. Having a lawyer to help coordinate the repair or payoff and a rental can facilitate the process so you won’t have annoying and expensive “down time” when you’re stuck without transportation.
When your car has been damaged in a Maricopa County car accident, call the Phoenix auto damage attorneys at the law offices of Curiel and Runion. We’ll shoulder the burden of dealing with the insurance company and see to it that you have your car repaired promptly, or that you receive a payoff check for the full value of your loss without delay, and that you are provided with a rental car in the interim.