Who Pays For My Car Damage After an Accident?
After a car accident, a lot of people wonder who is responsible for paying for the damages to their vehicle. The answer depends on a number of factors, including which party was at fault and the available insurance coverage.
If you are at fault for an accident and you have collision coverage in your auto insurance policy, then your insurance company is typically responsible for paying for your car repairs, subject to any applicable deductible. There are, however, exceptions to this rule. For instance, many insurance policies contain a "crime exception," which means that if you were in process of committing a crime at the time of an accident, your insurance company is not responsible for any damages. If you are at fault for an accident and do not carry collision coverage, then you will likely have no coverage for property damage to your vehicle.
Who Pays When the Other Party Is At Fault?
When you have have collision coverage and are not at fault for the motor vehicle accident, you have a couple options. The first is to have your own insurance company pay for the vehicle damages. The second option is to try and go through the other driver's insurance company.
Usually, it is best to deal with your own insurance company. This way, you are dealing with the insurance company that you pay to serve you as a client. While you may have to pay a deductible, you can always seek to recoup that out-of-pocket payment from the negligent driver's insurance company. Your own insurance company will certainly seek reimbursement from the negligent driver's insurance company for any amounts paid out on your behalf through a subrogation claim.
The other option is to attempt to adjust your property damage claim through the other driver's insurance. If they are willing to cooperate, this insurance company will have an adjuster from their company inspect your vehicle to determine whether it can be fixed or is a total loss. If it is determined that the vehicle can be fixed, this insurance company may either offer you money for the repairs, or offer to have it repaired at one of their "approved” repair shops. In the event of a total loss, they may just cut you a check for the estimated value of the vehicle at the time of loss.
So, which option is better? The argument in favor of having the other driver's insurance company pay for your vehicle damage is that you will not have to pay a deductible. Plus, the other company may pay for a rental car during the repair process. However, the key argument for having your own insurance company pay for the damages is that you have specific rights under your insurance policy - for instance, a quick and affordable process for resolving disputes - that you won't have when dealing with someone else's insurance company.
What Happens When Neither Party Has Insurance?
This is a difficult situation, where the at-fault driver is responsible for the damages, but may have little or nothing to offer. As a practical matter, you cannot collect from someone who has nothing to offer. In such a situation, you might end up paying. The key takeaway here is to maintain sufficient collision coverage on your auto insurance policy to protect yourself and your family. For help with your claim contact our New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at The Reinartz Law Firm today.