While your most immediate concerns after a serious auto accident will always be the medical needs of anyone who may be injured, you will also have to address your vehicle damage at some point. In the fortunate cases where there are no injuries, the vehicle damage might be the only concern. You should be able to recover compensation for your property damage from the at fault driver, but this is not always a simple task, and it may take time.
Still, the auto insurance policy of the at-fault driver, and in some cases, your own auto insurance policy will still be your best resource for recovering the compensation you require to fix or replace your vehicle. In most cases, working with a South Carolina auto accident attorney can make all the difference in establishing fault and getting compensation for damages.
Who Caused the Auto Accident and What Insurance is Available?
The first step in pursuing an auto accident claim is to establish who was responsible for the accident. This means that you need to identify the at-fault party and determine where the negligence occurred. Each driver owes everyone else on the road a duty of care to behave in a safe manner that will prevent most auto accidents. If someone has failed to uphold that duty of care, caused an accident, and thus caused injuries and property damage, then this person is the negligent or at-fault party in your auto accident claim. You’ll want to turn to their auto insurance policy for coverage of your damages. In some cases, you may be able to turn to your own auto insurance policy instead of or in addition to the policy of the at fault driver.
Many auto accidents are caused by drivers who either don’t have enough auto insurance to cover the associated damages, or worse, don’t have any auto insurance at all. You can pursue a lawsuit against an at-fault driver without auto insurance, but you may not ever see any of the money awarded to you. This is because a lot of people who fail to carry the legally required coverage for their vehicles don’t have enough money for the insurance policy, much less the compensation that they owe to the victims of the accidents they’ve caused.
If you have UIM coverage, or Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage, then you have a resource on your own policy to make up the difference or to cover the full value of your damages, as the case may be. If you have collision coverage on your auto insurance policy, then this can help with covering your damages if you were partially or fully at fault for the incident. If you have comprehensive coverage, then any vehicle damages that are caused by factors other than auto accidents or while the vehicle is parked will be covered.
When Your Vehicle Damage is Determined to Be a Total Loss
Your vehicle damage after a South Carolina auto accident may be so severe that it becomes more costly to repair the vehicle than the vehicle is actually worth. If you have a car that is worth $5,000 (based on Kelley Blue Book Value) with $6,000 worth of damage, the car is totaled. In such a situation, the auto insurance policy that you turn to may declare your vehicle to be a total loss. In such cases, they will not cover all of your damages, but will cover the value of the vehicle. So, if your car was worth $5,000 with $6,000 worth of damage, you can only recover compensation for the $5,000 value. Having said that, you might still owe $8,000 on a vehicle that is only actually worth $5,000. In this situation, the auto insurance policy covers the $5,000, but you have to pay that and then some on the outstanding car note.
This can make it very challenging to get a new vehicle when you’re out more money than you’ve got, even after the auto insurance policy of the at-fault driver pays what is owed to you. It is at this point that you may wish to enlist the help of a South Carolina auto accident attorney if you have not already done so. This is because, as an alternative to accepting the auto insurance company’s decision, your attorney can assist you with renegotiating the settlement.
When it comes to addressing property damage and facing the total loss of a vehicle, you’ll need all the help that you can get and all the compensation that you can be awarded. Here, it may be helpful to point out that auto accident victims who seek legal representation receive, on average, more than 3.5 times the compensation of those who do not. This can certainly make a major difference when you’re trying to get back on the road.
Schedule Your Free Consultation with the Connell Law Firm Today
The South Carolina auto accident attorneys at the Connell Law Firm know exactly what you’re going through. We have represented many victims of auto accidents and assisted them to resolve their claims through fair settlements that allow them to get their lives back on track and their wheels back on the highway. There are many mistakes that can derail an auto accident claim, and we know how to make sure that you don’t make any of them.
For example, to accept the auto insurance company’s first settlement offer is almost always an unwise decision that you’ll regret down the road when you realize that your expenses are much greater than what they offered. The best thing to do to ensure that you get fair compensation is to wait until your injuries are stable and your future medical care can be predicted, and to get an accurate estimate on the cost of repairing your vehicle or at least the accurate value of the vehicle. If your vehicle can be repaired, you’ll want to shop around for the best price.
If it is a total loss, then you’ll want to make sure that you recover as much compensation as possible, both to be able to pay back whatever you may owe on the vehicle, and hopefully, to be able to replace your vehicle as well, while also affording your medical care. Call the experienced car crash attorneys in Columbia at the Connell Law Firm to schedule a free consultation today and learn more about your options.