You've been in an accident. You've seen the doctor and you have an appropirate treatment plan. Now you're asking yourself "How do I get my car fixed?"
In Washington, the most common insurance coverage to take care of damage to your vehicle is your own collision coverage or the other driver's liability coverage. Each has advantages and disadvantages, but as the person with the damaged car, you have the option to select either insurance to pay for the repairs.
The advantage of using your collision coverage is that it is a "no-fault" coverage, meaning it will pay for the damage to your car without the need to prove who caused the accident. This is especially useful where the other driver or their insurance company is denying that they caused the accident.
The downside of using your collision coverage is that there is usually a deductible, which is an amount you have to pay out of pocket before the insurance company will pay to fix your car. However, if you later establish that the other driver was responsible, their insurance should reimburse you for your out of pocket expense.
Unlike you collision coverage, liability is based on a determination of fault for the accident. If the other driver and their insurance company accept responsibility for causing the accident, it is generally advisable to use their liability coverage to pay for your repairs.
Liability coverage has no deductibles or out of pocket expenses, and they should repair your car to the condition it was in before the accident.
If the damage to your car is extensive, the insurance company may deem it a total loss. At that point, they will make you an offer for the value of your car. They determine their offer from a database of sales of comparable vehicles within a specific geographic area. You absolutely have the right to negotiate with the insruance company, and if you can establish your car is worth more than their initial offer, they should pay it.
It is important to be careful any time you are speaking to an insurance company following an auto accident. It doesn't matter if it's your insurance or the other driver's. When dealing with your propperty damage claim, you should discuss only the damage to your car and the necessary arrangemens to get your car repaired or replaced.
You should never speak to any insurance company about the details of the accident, your injuries or your medical treatment without having an experienced personal injury attorney at your side.
Following these simple guidelines will help you navigate your property damage claim, and let you focus your energy on your medical treatment and getting your life back to normal.