Matthew D. Dubin: You've been in a car accident, you've seen a doctor and you've got an appropriate treatment plan. Now you're asking yourself, how do I get my car fixed? I'm Seattle personal injury attorney Matt Dubin. Join me now as I discuss the mechanics of a property damage claim in the state of Washington.
When your car's damaged in an accident, there are two primary types of insurance that will cover the damage - your own collision coverage or the other driver's liability coverage. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Your own collision coverage is no-fault, which means you don't need to establish who was responsible for causing the accident. However, collision coverage generally carries a deductible or an out of pocket amount you need to pay before the insurance will cover the damage to your car. Now if the other driver or their insurance is disputing liability for causing the accident, and you need to get your car fixed right away, it might make the most sense for you to go through your own collision coverage, pay the deductible out of pocket and get your car fixed. Later, when you establish that the other driver was responsible for causing the accident, you should be able to recover any out of pocket payments you made. On the other hand, if the other driver and their insurance is accepting responsibility for the accident, it might make more sense for you to go through their liability coverage. When you use the other driver's liability coverage there is no deductible or out of pocket expense to you, and they should repair your car to exactly the condition it was in before the collision took place.
Now regardless of whether you use your own collision coverage or the other driver's liability coverage, the procedure is essentially the same. You'll get a call from an insurance rep to schedule an appointment, either to have an inspector come to your car or to have you drop off your car in a shop so they can assess the damage and write up a repair estimate. If the damage is above a certain threshold, it may be determined that your car is a total loss, in which case the insurance company will make you an offer for the value of your car. Now you're not stuck with the offer that the insurance company makes to you. They base that offer on a database of sales of comparable cars within a geographic area. However, if you can establish that your car is worth more, you may be able to get more than what the insurance company initially offers you. It's important to remember when you're talking to the insurance company to discuss only the damage to your car and the arrangements to getting your car repaired.
You should never discuss the details of the accident, your injuries, or your medical treatment without a qualified personal injury attorney at your side. And once you've got your car repaired, or if you've got the arrangements made to get your car repaired, you should have a little more peace of mind so you can focus on your medical treatment and getting your life back to normal.
And that's how a property damage claim works in the state of Washington. If you have any more questions, check out our website or give us a call. We'd love to hear from you.