Getting your car fixed properly after an accident is supposed to be fairly easy. At least, it is usually far easier than obtaining a settlement when you have suffered physical injuries, which involves subjective considerations like the value of pain and suffering.
However, as many people will discover, you will need a good lawyer to negotiate on your behalf when making a claim for property damage only. The fact is that many insurers will try to minimize either the amount of damage to your vehicle or its value before you were involved in a wreck. If you are struggling to have repairs paid for following a collision, please contact one of our Las Vegas car accident lawyers.
Insurance adjusters definitely follow a process, even if it seems a little mysterious standing on the outside. Generally, the insurance adjuster will ask where the vehicle is and go look at it. Sometimes, the adjuster will send an estimator instead. During the inspection, the adjuster will note any damage that looks unrelated to the accident, such as rust or scratches or a new bumper that has been installed. The adjuster can also pull repair records to see if the vehicle was in an accident before and what kinds of repairs were performed.
The adjuster then needs to come up with a number that signifies your car’s value right before the accident. The adjuster can look at other cars of the same make, model, year, mileage, and options in the immediate geographic area.
Classic cars present a unique problem when it comes to repairs. This is why there is a specific insurance product created for those who own classic cars. If you have this type of insurance, then you should have agreed to the car’s value with the insurer before you were issued a policy.
Unfortunately, some people might not have gotten a classic car insurance policy. Instead, they might have a regular car insurance policy, which might be great for a new Toyota or Chevy but is less helpful with a classic car. Or, if another driver was at fault for the collision, then the owner of the classic car is making a claim on that driver’s property damage policy.
The Blue Book value for a classic car is often lower than what the vehicle is really worth, especially when you have spent time and money keeping your classic car in good condition. An insurance agent with no experience with classic cars might just assign the Kelley Blue Book value, which seriously undervalues your vehicle.
You can discuss having a classic car appraiser look at the vehicle. This person is more knowledgeable about the value of these types of vehicles and can provide a more realistic assessment of the car’s worth. If the insurer won’t budge, however, then it is time to speak with an attorney.
Your options depend on the language of the relevant car accident insurance. This could be another driver’s property damage policy, which would kick in if that driver was at fault for the collision. It could also be your collision or comprehensive insurance, depending on how the car was damaged.
NRS 487.890 states that the cost of repairing a vehicle must be based on the labor and cost of parts needed to “restore the vehicle to the condition it was in immediately before” the collision. This calculation should include most upgrades.
Check with the insurance adjuster, who might have simply overlooked the upgrades. if not, you should consider hiring an attorney with experience in this area of law. Your attorney can reach out to the insurance adjuster and try to get the value of the vehicle increased by considering the upgrades and modifications.
Your car might be totaled by the collision, in which case the insurer can pay for the full value of the vehicle, less any relevant deductible. However, it is then up to you to find a car to purchase.
Often, motorists are unhappy with the value that the insurance adjuster has assigned their vehicle. This means they will have to pay out of pocket to buy another vehicle of equivalent value. Because your deductible will be taken out of the payment, virtually everyone who uses their collision or comprehensive insurance will get less from the insurer than the vehicle is really worth.
One option is to try and increase the value that the insurance adjuster has assigned your vehicle. This would give you more money to then go buy a car.
The insurance company does not know that. Further, that information should play no role in how the insurance company assigns value to the vehicle, which should be based on the fair market value of the car as it existed right before the collision.
There are many reasons why you might think your car is worth more. You should analyze the reasons why. Some reasons are more legitimate than others.
For example, you might think your car was in better shape before the crash than the adjuster does. You might think the vehicle had no dings, scratches, or rust and that all damage present was the result of the crash. This is a valid reason to try and negotiate a higher value. After all, you knew the condition of your vehicle before the accident—you drove it!
But there are some illegitimate reasons why people think their car is worth more. For example, the car might have sentimental value for you because it was your mother’s car, or it was the first car you ever bought for yourself. These reasons will not garner you more money from the insurance company.
Also, you might owe more on the car than the market value. Cars depreciate quickly, and this is a common scenario. For example, you might owe $10,000 on a car that is only worth $7,000. Unfortunately, you are not entitled to get the full amount of the remaining balance on your car loan.
Yes. Some vehicles decline in value even after being repaired. This reflects the reduced value for vehicles that have been involved in accidents. For example, luxury vehicles might decline by as much as 25% simply by being in an accident, even if it has been returned to its “original” condition. This can represent a significant drop in value.
Nevada allows those involved in accidents to bring a claim for diminution in value. Your attorney can explain the evidence necessary and how to go about proving a claim.
Navigating the insurance process can be a big headache, and car owners need someone who can help them when insurers try to stiff them of valuable compensation. At Ladah Law Firm, our team has negotiated on behalf of many car owners to increase the amount of money they receive for repairs. We can work with you whether you have a classic car, luxury vehicle, or an ordinary sedan.
If you have a question, please contact our firm today by calling 702-252-0055. Our consultations are free.