GA’s Ultimate Guide to Auto Property Damage Claims 2021
One of your next steps should be to obtain a copy of the Georgia Motor Vehicle Accident Report from the law enforcement agency that investigated the wreckage.
When you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, there are generally two types of possible complaints.
At the law firm Butler, we only deal with personal injury cases – in other words, we only represent people who have been involved in car wrecks for their injury or death claims, not just for damage to the car.
But over the years, many people have called us for help dealing with the damage to the car, even though they were not injured in the accident. We put that Georgia Car Damage Manual to help these people. Now we are putting it on the web for anyone to use. Georgian law allows property damage claims to be treated separately from personal injury claims. To see OCGA § 51-1-32. This means that if you’ve been injured, you can settle your car damage claim and get back on the road while still getting the medical attention you need. Although personal injury cases often require a lawyer, sometimes if there are no injuries and the only problem is your car is damaged, you may be able to handle the claim on your own. (To see Should I hire a lawyer after a car accident). If this is the route you decide to take, we hope this Georgia Car Damage Manual will help you. If you or anyone else involved in the accident was injured, please contact us or apply online. But if you haven’t been injured and the only problem is your car is damaged, click the blue button below and read on.
1. Contact the police and see a doctor.
If you or someone else involved in the accident is injured, your first priority should be to seek medical treatment. Even if there are no injuries, it is always a good idea to contact the police to report the accident. Without a police report, it can be more difficult to prove what happened.
2. Take pictures of the vehicles and the accident scene, if it is safe to do so.
One of your next steps should be to obtain a copy of the Georgia Motor Vehicle Accident Report from the law enforcement agency that investigated the wreckage. Usually the officer will give you a case number with instructions on how to get this report. It can often take several days for the police report to be available.
3. Contact the insurance company listed on the at-fault driver’s report to report the claim.
Often the police report will state which driver was suspected of being at fault, and may also show that this offending driver received a citation. After reporting the claim to the insurance company of the driver at fault, the insurance company must appoint a claims adjuster who will contact you to assess your vehicle. If you are injured, there will likely be a separate adjuster who will handle your injury claim. The claims adjuster who deals with damage to your car will usually identify himself as a “property damage adjuster” or tell you that he only deals with the property damage claim. This expert may ask to see the vehicle in person to assess the damage. Depending on the extent of the damage, the vehicle may be declared a total loss (or “totalized”), or it may be repaired.
If you have collision coverage on your own car insurance, your insurance company will pay for the repair, replacement, or rental of your vehicle and then seek reimbursement from the responsible driver’s insurance company. However, you will need to pay your deductible at this time. Your deductible will ultimately be refunded to you as part of your property damage settlement once the offending driver’s insurance company accepts responsibility.
When they ask for a recorded statement. . .
Sometimes adjusters ask you to make a recorded statement. Sometimes they will pretend you have no choice and can even be pushy about it. Corn there is absolutely no obligation under Georgian law for you to provide a registered statement to the insurance company of the offending driver. Know your rights and defend your positions.
The only time you might be required to report is when using your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (meaning the driver at fault either did not have insurance or did not have sufficient assurance). In this situation, you may have a contractual obligation to cooperate with the request, but you can always consult a lawyer before making a statement.
The adjuster may tell you that the claims process cannot begin until you provide a statement. It can be a trick to get you to say something that can be used against your case later. You have the right to speak with a lawyer before making a statement, whether registered or not, to the insurance company.
If your car can be repaired, congratulations! This will save you from having to negotiate with the insurance company how much they should pay you for a total car. However, there are a few other issues you need to think about.
This is an excerpt from a larger article which can be found here.