The Legal Information You Need to Negotiate Your Phoenix Car Accident Total Loss Figures With the Insurance Company
Negotiating a Total Loss
If you're a driver, and chances you are, then chances are you'll be involved in a collision at some point in your life. In fact, most drivers are unable to escape being involved an Arizona traffic accident at least once or twice in their lives, if not more often. According to statistics, the same driver will file a claim for a car crash at least once every 17.9 years.
If you don't experience a collision in your earliest driving years, just after you get your driver's license, you'll likely still be involved in a car crash by the time you hit your mid-30s. Not all accidents are serious ones. The majority of drivers will experience a fender bender that causes very little damage to the vehicle, and minimal or no damage to the people inside the vehicle. But even if there is a small amount of damage, if your deductible is less than the amount of the damage, you'll likely file an insurance claim. Other common collisions include crashing in a parking lot, and collisions at intersections and stop signs, especially where one driver is turning left and the other is continuing straight through the intersection or four-way stop. If you're a driver right now, you likely have either experienced or seen one of these incidents in your lifetime already.
When you find yourself involved in a traffic accident, the hardest part will be figuring everything out. It's not easy to deal with all of the paperwork, the confusion, and the stress that comes with a collision, especially if you have sustained injuries as a part of your losses. For the majority of car crash victims, assistance from a skilled Phoenix car accident attorney is necessary to get your life back on track and to get access to the compensation you deserve for the damages that you sustained in the collision.
An experienced Phoenix injury lawyer can help you ensure that you get what you deserve from your insurance company and from the insurance company of the other person involved. If you're not ready to contact an attorney, or don't know how to proceed just yet, it's important to remember these tips for keeping your claim on track and ensuring that you get all the compensatory damages you deserve.
File Your Claim With the Insurance Company As Quickly as Possible
If you've been involved in a collision, one of the most important things you can do, other than going to the doctor and speaking with the police, is to call your insurance company and file a claim for your accident. It's important to note that there are things that can go wrong during this process and you need to be on your guard to ensure that everything goes smoothly in this step to avoid problems down the road.
- Avoid being the person to make the first phone call to the insurance company. Instead have a family member or close friend make the call to open the claim. When you are injured, you want to believe that everyone is out to help you, but sometimes the insurance company is searching for statements that could make you seem at fault or could cause detriment to your case.
- Do your best to get accurate information from the at-fault party, and always make certain you involve the police. If the information you have is inaccurate the police will have accurate, or more accurate information and will be able to help you.
- When you are speaking with the at-fault driver's insurance company you should ask them to search with multiple criteria, not just name and phone number. If the other insurance company cannot find the person you are looking for, it is okay to call an attorney to get help with your case. In this type of case it is better to call an attorney than to try to proceed on your own.
- Do whatever you can to mitigate the damages you will be seeking. This means moving your car out of the tow yard in a timely fashion to keep storage fees low, and working with your attorney to ensure that you are doing everything necessary to keep costs low and to help yourself through recovery as quickly as possible. Nothing is worse than having an insurance company find a loophole where they could claim that you caused the damages to increase and then not have to pay a dime.
Know How To Handle the Loss of the Use of Your Vehicle After a Collision
If you are involved in a serious collision, chances are that you are going to lose the use of your vehicle for an extended, if not indefinite, period of time. If the insurance company provides you with a rental vehicle, then you will be perfectly fine. However, you may be able to claim "loss of use" damages if you are not provided with a rental vehicle. Loss of use describes a situation where you have no access or ability to use the vehicle that was damaged in the accident and you have not been provided with alternate transportation by the insurance company.
In Arizona, the rates for loss of use vary depending on the type of vehicle you owned that was damaged in the crash. The rates can vary between $15 and $30 per day. In many cases, the insurance adjuster will offer you only $15 per day, despite the type of vehicle you were driving, but this number will not help you pay for a rental vehicle on your own as it is incredibly low. It is okay to point out to the adjuster that if you are unable to use your own vehicle and they are unwilling to provide you a rental car that you are entitled to fair loss of use compensation for every day that you are without a vehicle.
If the insurance company is unwilling to budge on the $15 per day loss of use fee and will not provide you with a rental car, you should have them provide the names of rental car companies that will accept $15 per day for a rental car. You may want to ask that they be sure to take into account taxes and other fees when they make their recommendations.
Don't Feel That the Financial Figure You Are Told Is the Only Offer You Can Get
Don't feel that the financial figure you are told is the only offer you can get because, in reality, property damages can be negotiated to help place you in a better position.
When you are involved in a car crash, you send the information about the claim to the car insurance company and they make a determination as to how much your vehicle was worth. They will also make a determination as to how much parts and repairs are worth for your vehicle, which helps them to decide whether or not your vehicle is repairable. You are entitled to a copy of the report that was used to determine these financial figures. You can also request a copy of the repairs statement so that you have a chance to determine whether or not you agree with the determination made by the insurance company.
Most importantly, it is critical to remember that in some cases, not all of the damages will be included in these reports. When you speak with an insurance adjuster you should ensure that they have added the tax that is associated with the loss of your vehicle. Additionally, if you lost property in the collision, such as computers, cell phones, etc. you are also likely entitled to compensation for the loss of these properties.
If you don't agree with the insurance company, do your research and come back to them with information detailing where you feel that a mistake was made. If you are able to find information that contradicts the insurance company you may be able to have the value of your losses increased and receive more compensatory damages.
If you were injured in the collision, your Phoenix insurance negotiation attorney will negotiate the total loss figures of your property damages as a part of your case. If you were not injured you can still call an attorney for a free evaluation and assistance.
Remember To Write Down Everything That Happened
Remember to write down everything that happened, keep a copy, and give a copy to the insurance company.
Just because you call the insurance company on the phone and tell them about your losses, doesn't mean it happened. What? Whenever you speak with an insurance adjuster about your claim, you should always send a followup email or letter to confirm what you talked about. If you send an email you will have a time-stamped, tracked record of what was said.
Many people choose to get an attorney who will help them document every conversation and all other information pertaining to their case. The most important thing to remember whether or not you have an attorney is to make certain that you don't ever write anything that could cause detriment to your case.
Even if Your Vehicle Is a Total Loss, That Doesn't Mean That You Have To Give It Up
When you ask for a valuation report on your vehicle, if it has been "totaled" by the insurance company, you will see a line that states the "salvage" cost of your vehicle. This is the amount that you can "pay" to buyback your vehicle from the insurance company. In reality, what occurs is that the insurance company deducts this amount from your total loss compensation settlement package.
It's important to remember that just because the insurance company says the vehicle is totaled does not mean that this is true. It simply means that the cost to repair the vehicle is more than the insurance company is willing to pay by their own estimation of costs. You may be able to get your vehicle repaired elsewhere for a lower cost. You may also know that many of the parts in your vehicle may sell for a high amount to fund the purchase of a new vehicle. If this is the case, it's your choice to keep the car!
Remember, it is the job of your insurance adjuster to settle your claim for as little as possible so that the insurance company can make a profit. This is why having an experienced attorney on your side to help with your property damage claim is so critical. Especially if you were injured, having an attorney can help take the onus off of you to deal with your claim so that you can instead focus on healing. Let the attorneys at The Husband & Wife Law Team deal with the insurance companies while you get better and move on with your life. Call today at (602) 457-6222.
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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer