When you are involved in a crash in California, you will either turn to your own insurance company, or the insurance company of the other driver, in order to seek compensation for the damage to your vehicle. If the other driver was at fault – their insurance is responsible for paying; if you were at fault – you can file a claim through your own insurance company’s collision coverage policy (assuming you carry this coverage type). In some cases, you may have to file an uninsured motorist claim to recover compensation.
Regardless of which insurance company you are pursuing a claim with, the truth is this: many times the insurance companies will try and make a relatively low offer on your car. It’s important to know that you don’t have to accept the offer.
What Should I Do If I Feel the Insurance Company is Making an Unfair Offer for My Vehicle Damage?
Of course, it can be hard to know whether or not the amount that your insurance company is offering for damages to your car is fair if you do not work in the automotive/automotive repair industry or have not met with a professional yourself. However, it is important to note that just because an insurance adjuster says, “Oh, gee – this is what our appraiser says,” does not mean that their appraiser is right. In fact, they may be intentionally low balling your offer in order to save a little cash on their end. Our law firm recommends never accepting a first settlement offer for this very reason; you should always have your settlement offer reviewed by an experienced legal professional before accepting it or signing a release of claim agreement.
And we’re happy to help with that. If we’re representing you in your injury case and they’re not being fair with you on the property damage aspect of the case, we will step in at no additional charge and make sure that you’re treated fairly with respect to the damage to your vehicle.
How We Determine the Value of Your Car
In order to accurately represent you at the negotiations table when it comes to getting you a fair amount for the value of your vehicle, we need to know exactly what that value is. In order to do this, we work with experts, including vehicle appraisers, who can account for not only the cost of damage to your car, but the value of depreciation as a result of the crash based on your car’s specific make, model, and pre-wreck value. It is important to know that you are entitled to receive the difference between the value of your car immediately before the accident, and the value of your vehicle immediately after the accident. You are also entitled to recover for the loss of use of your vehicle, which is a very important consideration that most people overlook when are engaging in negotiations with the insurance adjuster themselves.
Another tricky situation is one in which the other driver totals your car, but the amount that you owe on your vehicle is more than what your car is worth. For example, if the insurance adjuster determines that your car is worth $10,000, but you owe $13,000 on your car loan, you may have serious financial concerns. Our attorneys can help you to understand your options if this happens to you.
What Happens During Negotiations?
When your insurance company offers you a property damage settlement, you have the right to reject that settlement outright and counter with a separate demand. This process can go back and forth multiple times. Depending upon the situation, the process may happen without actually sitting down with the insurance adjuster, although in many cases, negotiations, or even mediated in-person sessions will be necessary to reach a settlement amount.
What Happens if a Settlement Cannot Be Reached?
It is very rare for a property damage settlement to not be reached. This is because property damage amounts usually do not justify taking a case to court. However, if a property damage settlement and settlement for other losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, suffering, pain, etc. cannot be reached, then your case may need to go to court in order to be settled. Our law firm has trial experience, and I personally am very comfortable litigating on clients’ behalf. It is still possible for negotiations to take place up to a trial date, and sometimes trial can be avoided. If a trial is not avoided, then a court will be responsible for determining what your case is worth and what a final settlement will be. Again, this is very, very rare for cases involving property damage alone.
Contact Our Law Offices Today
If you feel as though the insurance company that is responsible for processing your property damage claim after an accident is offering you an unfair settlement, you have options. One of the best options that you have is to contact the experienced car accident lawyers at the offices of GJEL accident attorneys. We have been helping clients negotiate their car accident settlements for years, and know how to determine the value of a car (and other elements of a car accident settlement). To learn more, contact us today for your free consultation.