When Are You Liable For Vehicular Damage

If you have been in a car accident, your first priority should be taking care of any physical injuries that you have acquired. If there was damage to your vehicle, you are probably wondering where to take your car for repairs, how much the repairs will cost and who is responsible for paying the bill.

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The liability for vehicular damage will depend largely on what state you are in. If you are in a tort or fault state, then the person who caused the accident is responsible for all of its related bills. There are far more fault states than there are no-fault states. In fact, only 12 states and the District of Columbia follow the no-fault rule.

Exceptions to the No-Fault Rule 

Drivers in no-fault states are required to carry Personal Injury Protection and insurance for damage to property. Each state has a minimum amount of insurance that they must carry in order to be able to drive legally. For example in Florida, a driver must carry $10,000 for damage to property and a driver in New Jersey must carry $5000 in damage to property. 

If damages to a person’s vehicle exceed the amount of insurance for which they were covered, they may be able to sue an at-fault driver for damages.

There are other exceptions to the no-fault rule. If a person suffers a permanent injury or loss of a bodily function, they might be able to sue an at-fault driver in an accident. The family of an accident victim can also sue an at-fault driver for wrongful death. If a person has lost an exceptional amount of time away from their job due to an accident, you may also be able to recover money from an at-fault driver.

How the Value of the Car is Determined

If your car is merely damaged in an accident, an insurance company must pay for the repairs. If the car is totaled, they must pay to replace it.

A car will be considered totaled if the cost of repairing a car exceeds the value of the car.  Some states have a threshold that determines when a car is totaled. For example, in Florida, if the cost of repairing the car would be over 80% of the value of the car, the vehicle is considered totaled.

An insurance company should pay you for the value of your car one second before the accident. In some states, they only have to pay you a percentage of that value. The value is determined by the make, model, and age of the car and any preexisting damage.

What to do if You Have an Accident

If you are involved in an accident. You should call the police and wait at the scene for them to arrive. Take pictures of the damages to your vehicle and get the names of any witnesses. Exchange information with the other driver and request a copy of the accident report.

Save the repair bill for your car. If the car was totaled give the insurance company the pink slip or loan information. Insurance companies are trained to keep their money in house so be sure to hire a knowledgeable and experienced injury attorney to help you.

Damage to your property is not as serious as damage to your body, but a fair settlement is still worth fighting for.

Authoritative Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/advisor/car-insurance/pip-guide/

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