Let’s face it: an auto accident is a huge hassle. Along with your injuries, you will be forced to either repair or replace your vehicle, potentially be without your vehicle while it is being repaired, and be forced to deal with the insurance company to finance all of this.
But all is not lost. There are a number of protections you, as the owner of the damaged vehicle, are entitled to in the car accident claims process. You may be able to recover damages from the person responsible for the accident or receive payments from your insurance company to cover the costs of repair or replacement.
El Paso car accident attorney Clark Harmonson has helped clients from all over the Southwest use the protections the law allows to get they need to get their life back on track. Let’s take a look at some of these protections for the owner of the vehicle.
Vehicle Repair after an accident in Texas
In Texas, if another person causes the auto accident, there are a couple of different ways for you to recover the property damage loss:
- You can recover the difference in the fair market value of the car before and after the accident.
- You can recover the reasonable cost of repairing the vehicle, if it is economically feasible to do so.
- You can choose to pay for the repairs through your own insurance company, if you have full coverage.
- Or, if the driver responsible for the accident doesn’t have insurance, you can pay for the repairs through your insurance company if you have uninsured motorist property damage protection.
Most people in this situation choose to have their vehicle repaired by the wrongdoer’s insurance company. If you choose this option, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- First, you have the right to choose any shop for the repairs of that vehicle. The insurance company is not allowed to dictate to you where you take your vehicle to be repaired.
- Second, you have the right to choose the type of parts to be used in the repair. (However, the insurance company only has to pay a reasonable amount for the repairs and the vehicle parts.)
On some occasions, it is best for the vehicle owner to use their own insurance to make vehicle repairs when they have purchased full coverage. At the Harmonson Law Firm, we counsel people to use this option when the negligent party’s insurance is being unresponsive or the investigation of the accident is causing unreasonable delays and hardship on our client.
If you choose to go through your own insurance, you will have to pay a deductible for the repairs. Then your insurance company will be responsible for getting reimbursed for the repairs from the negligent driver’s insurance company, and for getting your deductible back to you. The technical term for this process is called subrogation.
If the driver who caused the accident does not have any insurance, your insurance company should pay for the repairs if you have uninsured motorist property damage protection. In Texas, there is a mandatory $250 deductible to pay for repairs through this method.
Loss of Use (Rental Damages)
Texas law allows the owner of a repairable vehicle damages for loss of use of the vehicle while it is being repaired. What this usually means is that the cost of renting another car while yours is in the shop will be covered.
You are allowed to recover the reasonable rental value of a similar vehicle for a time reasonably required to make repairs to the vehicle. If the vehicle is a total loss, Texas law allows for a vehicle rental until a reasonable time has passed, to allow the insurance company to make a settlement offer for the value of the vehicle.
You also don’t have to actually rent a replacement vehicle to make a claim for loss of use. The cost of losing the use of your vehicle could be bus fare, Uber or Lyft fare.
Total Loss Damages
If it is not economically feasible to repair your vehicle, or if your vehicle cannot be safely repaired, then the insurance company will declare your vehicle a “total loss.”
For instance, a vehicle is often declared a total loss when there is frame damage to the vehicle or if it will cost more to repair your vehicle than the vehicle is worth.
If your vehicle is declared a total loss, then the insurance company must pay you the fair market value of the vehicle before the accident.
Most people choose to let the insurance company keep their vehicle, but you can choose to keep the totaled vehicle, if you prefer. If you choose this option, the insurance company will pay you the fair market value of the vehicle, minus the money that the insurance company could have made if the vehicle was sold for scrap.
Hire a car accident attorney in El Paso today
If all of the options above seemed overwhelming to you, don’t panic. The confusing world of the car accident claims process can be a lot easier when you have an experienced car accident attorney at your side. Contact Clark Harmonson Law Firm for a consultation, so we can make sure you are getting the full amount you are owed. At Harmonson Law Firm, we don’t charge our personal injury clients any fee for helping negotiate their property damage claim.