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Who Pays for Property Damage in a Washington State Car Accident?

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    Who Pays for Property Damage in a Washington State Car Accident?

    After a car collision, you likely have many questions, starting with whose insurance pays in a car accident. Car accident claims can get tricky, especially when there is confusion about who pays compensation for car accident damage. If you need help getting proper compensation for your auto accident claim in Washington State, contact Lehmbecker Law for a free consultation.

    What Is Considered Property Damage in a Car Accident?

    The first step to fixing your car after an accident is determining the extent of the car accident property damage and whose insurance you call after an accident. Often, the answer to “If I get in a car accident, who pays?” is “an insurance company,” usually that of the at-fault driver. However, your insurance company and the other party’s insurance company might go back and forth about which driver was at fault. If the police report notes that the other driver is clearly at fault, their insurance company might argue that some of the damage from the car accident was present before the accident.

    Because of this, it’s important to know what is property damage in a car accident. Property damage includes:

    • The cost of fixing your car
    • Compensating you if your car is totaled
    • Cost of a rental car, rideshare service, or other transportation while your car is being fixed
    • Cost of replacing any aftermarket upgrades on your car, like rims or a stereo system

    In addition to compensation for damage to the vehicle, your car accident claim can also include property damage to other items:

    • Groceries or other purchases that were in the car
    • Laptop, cell phone, or other electronics you had in the car
    • Smartwatch, valuable wristwatch, or jewelry
    • Prescription sunglasses or eyeglasses
    • Car seats or booster seats, as they cannot be used after a collision

    Now that you know what is considered property damage in a car accident and whose insurance do you call after an accident, you can provide more accurate information to your car accident lawyer so they can properly value your claim.

    Who Is Responsible for Property Damage After a Car Wreck?

    who pays compensation for car accident

    Under Washington law, the at-fault driver (or, usually, their insurance company) is the one who pays for property damage in car accident events. However, you might need your vehicle back fast, so you may use your collision coverage, paying the deductible. If you do this, your insurance company will contact the at-fault drivers to reimburse your deductible.

    Washington is a comparative fault state, which means that each driver can share some percentage of the blame for the accident; your settlement will be reduced depending on your degree of responsibility.

    How Can You Seek Compensation for Property Damage in Washington?

    You might file a car accident property damage claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, but there are exceptions.

    Filing a Car Accident Insurance Claim for Damage Unrelated to a Collision

    If your car was damaged in some way other than a car collision, then your car insurance claiming process would start with your own auto insurance carrier under your comprehensive coverage policy.

    A comprehensive auto insurance policy covers vehicle repairs or replacement due to non-collision causes, like a natural disaster, theft, or vandalism. If your car was struck while parked and the other driver left the scene, you will likely file this type of property damage claim; car accident damage like this isn't covered under your comprehensive insurance policy.

    Damage Compensation for Car Accident

    whose insurance pays in a car accident

    After your car is damaged in a wreck, filing a car crash claim can go a few different ways; if someone wrecks your car, whose insurance pays depends on who shoulders the majority of the fault for the collision. If the other driver is to blame, you can file a claim directly with their insurance company. The amount you receive is restricted to the maximum limit of their policy, a sum that will also include your medical bills.

    Whose insurance covers a car accident if the other driver is at fault?

    • The Other Driver, More than 50%: Their insurance provider
    • You, More than 50%: Your own insurance policy for your car; your liability for the other driver’s car
    • Shared Fault: Both drivers file claims with their respective insurance providers
    • Uninsured Motorist Hits You: Your uninsured driver policy covers your repairs

    Suppose that your property damage is extensive — for example, an extremely expensive piece of jewelry was damaged in the collision — and the other driver’s liability policy isn’t enough to cover the cost of replacing it. Your other option may be suing for property damage; car accident claims are not limited to the damage to the car.

    In a case where the responsibility for a car collision, and thus the property damage, is unclear, the insurance adjuster for each driver’s insurance provider will conduct independent investigations into the cause of the accident. They will conclude which driver is to blame and by how much, using a scale of 0% to 100% to assign responsibility. If this is your situation, an experienced car accident attorney can help you protect yourself in questions of whose insurance pays for car accident damage.

    What If the Insurance Company Is Offering Me Less than My Auto Loan Amount for My Totaled Car?

    To find the answer to “How much money can I get from a car accident?” you must determine the extent of the property damage in a car accident. Collision insurance policies pay for repairs, but if the cost of the repairs for your car totals more than its actual value, the insurance company will write the vehicle off as a total loss and reimburse you for the value of the car, not how much you owe. In this case, gap insurance can cover the difference.

    Options If You Disagree with the Insurance Company’s Offer for a Totaled Vehicle

    car accident property damage

    If someone crashes your car, who pays for the difference between the insurance company’s offer and your outstanding loan can become contentious. The insurance adjustor evaluates the property damage; car accident compensation depends on the vehicle’s mileage and the condition of the non-wrecked body, interior, and tires. The adjustor then determines its actual cash value (ACV).

    If the ACV is lower than the car loan or you believe you should get more, your car accident lawyer may ask the insurance adjustor to reexamine the ACV based on local comparisons.

    Can I Receive Compensation for the Diminished Resale Value of My Repaired Vehicle?

    Yes, if the repairs from the car accident property damage caused a substantial decline in the value of your car, you may be entitled to additional compensation, called diminution in value. This compensation is more common for new, high-value cars and can be a consideration for your car accident attorney when valuing your claim.

    How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Compensation for a Car Accident

    compensation for car accident

    If someone wrecks your car, whose insurance pays is often contested. Car accident insurance companies prefer that the at-fault driver carrier pay the claim. You may be left in the middle, simply trying to get enough compensation to cover your losses. Increase your chances of compensation by:

    • Documenting everything about the accident scene
    • Seeking multiple appraisals and expert opinions of the value of your damages
    • Asking your car insurance lawyer can you sue for property damage in a car accident

    Suing may be the last resort, but it is your right — and sometimes, it is the only solution.

    5 Tips for Resolving Your Car Accident Property Damage Claim

    Get an estimate

    If your car can be repaired after your car accident then you can take it to a repair shop of your choice to get an estimate. Even if the insurance company insists you use their repair shop, you have the right to get a second opinion from an independent repair shop.

    Get the fair market value for your car

    You are entitled to the fair market value for your vehicle if the insurance company determines that your car is totaled. Your car is considered “totaled” if it costs more to repair it than its value. To estimate the fair market value of your car use the internet to search for the cost of a comparable vehicle (same age, same condition, same mileage and same options as your vehicle).

    Claim the loss

    You are entitled to claim the loss of your ability to use the vehicle from the time of the car accident until the vehicle is repaired–whether or not you rent a substitute vehicle.

    Don’t let your insurance company use your property damage claim as leverage

    You rely upon your vehicle. Being without it because of a car accident is an extreme hardship. The insurance company has a duty to resolve your car accident property damage claim within a short period of time unless there is a dispute regarding who is at fault for the car accident.

    If you have suffered both property damage and an injury as a result of an car accident, the insurance company is forbidden to delay the settlement of your property damage claim in order to influence you to resolve your injury claim quickly or cheaply. If you are confronted with an insurance company that is attempting to use your property damage claim as leverage, contact us immediately.

    Get an attorney to recover all of your damages

    Insurance companies are becoming more aggressive with property damage claims. In the past, most people were able to resolve their property damage claims with the insurance company on their own.

    However, with insurance companies becoming increasingly difficult it’s frequently necessary to obtain an attorney. Your attorney will assist you with recovering all of the damages you have suffered. This is especially true if you suffered injuries as well as property damage in the accident.

    How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You Secure a Property Damage Claim

    Do you need to know if someone hits your car, who pays medical bills, lost wages, and property damage? An auto accident attorney can help. Experienced car accident lawyers negotiate with the other party’s insurance company and fight to get you the true value of your claim.

    At Lehmbecker Law, we have comprehensive knowledge of Washington laws regarding car accident lawsuits, who pays, and how to get compensation, along with the tenacity to take on even the most complicated cases. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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    Larry A. Lehmbecker
    Firm Founder, Larry Lehmbecker, has nearly 40 year’s of experience fighting for the injured in Washington State. He is always eager to share his knowledge to help those in need.
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