Automobile Property Damage Claims — Representing Yourself

If you’ve been in a car accident, many personal injury attorneys will not want to deal with the property damage part of your claim (paying to repair your car). This is due to the fact that property damage claims force attorneys to make a choice between: a) charging you their contingency fee (usually at least 33%) for the property damage claim, which will almost always result in you getting less money than if you negotiated it on your own; or b) not charging you any fee for the property damage claim, in which case the attorney is doing several hours of work for free. Neither option is appealing to most attorneys. Even if your attorney chooses option “b,” he will likely not put forth the same amount of effort in maximizing your property damage recovery as he would if he were negotiating over his own car. So what can you do to get the maximum automobile property damage settlement?

Maximize Your Property Damage Claim — Help Yourself!

Because your car’s property damage claim is not going to have any real impact on your injury claim, this is one you can risk handling on your own. If you are dealing with your own insurance company under your collision coverage, find out if they will be pursuing a recovery from the at-fault driver’s insurance company (this is called a subrogation claim). If they are, see if they will recover your deductible for you as part of their negotiations. If they are not pursuing a subrogation claim (they should be in almost all cases), or if they will not try to recover your deductible for you, make sure you tell your attorney the amount of your deductible so he can make that part of his settlement demand. He will have no problem adding this amount to his settlement demand, as it will be a fixed number ($250, $500, whatever your deductible is). You should be able to get him to do this part for free, because it will not involve any significant work. If your insurance company seeking reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurer and will recover your deductible for you, the process is even easier — and will get you paid faster.

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If you have to negotiate directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company on your property damage claim, there won’t be a deductible. However, be sure to only speak with the insurance adjuster handling the property damage claim. In almost all cases, this will be a different person from the adjuster handling your injury claim (under the at-fault driver’s “bodily injury” coverage). If the at-fault driver’s insurer tries to use the same adjuster to handle both property damage and bodily injury, tell your attorney immediately, as it is unlikely he will want you to speak with this person outside his presence. In those rare cases, you need to work out with your attorney how to handle the property damage claim. In all other cases, you’re ready to negotiate!

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Learn How To Handle Property Damage Claims!

When you’re ready to negotiate with the collision adjuster (from your own insurer) or property damage adjuster (from the at-fault driver’s insurer), you may ask yourself: how do I do this? How do I know how much my car is worth or when I’m being offered fair value? Luckily, there is a cheap and excellent e-book available that can teach you how to get the most from your negotiations: The Claim-Buster E-book. As of the writing of this article, it only costs $12.95, and the wealth of information it contains will more than pay for itself in increasing the value of your property damage settlement. I didn’t write this book, but at only $12.95 I can easily recommend it. It sure beats paying your lawyer 33% of your property damage settlement. Good Luck!

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