Who Will Pay for My Car Repairs After a Collision?
If your car was recently damaged in a wreck, you’re probably wondering who’s responsible for the repairs. Even if you have auto insurance, you shouldn’t have to worry about filing a claim under your own policy and covering the deductible to fix damage that someone else caused. Thankfully, the state of Nevada agrees.
Unlike states that expect motorists to cover repairs regardless of whether they contributed to the accident that caused the damage, Nevada does not deviate from tort law when it comes to motor-vehicle collisions. In the Battle Born State, auto insurance claims abide by a fault system. That means those to blame for a crash are generally responsible for the associated damages.
Assuming they have auto insurance, however, at-fault drivers aren’t expected to cover the repairs out of pocket. Instead, their carrier will handle the expense, up to their policy’s applicable limits.
Put another way, if you wish to seek compensation from a reckless driver for property repairs, you must file a third-party claim with their carrier, and you must support it with lots of compelling evidence.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on what doing so entails:
1. Gather Evidence from the Scene
While the most valuable evidence that contributes to your case will depend on the circumstances, it will likely include at least a few of the following items:
· The official police report,
· Statements from first responders,
· Eyewitness testimony,
· Dash camera footage,
· Black box data,
· Surveillance recordings from security systems overlooking the scene, and
· Photographs of the wreckage.
If you could not gather one or more of the items listed above, don’t worry; a resourceful car accident attorney can help. As long as you turn to a reputable firm, your legal team should be more than happy to conduct a thorough investigation into the collision. Along the way, they’ll compile the evidence needed to help you pursue the maximum payout available.
2. Write Down What Happened
As soon as possible after the crash—ideally later that same day—write down everything you can remember about the incident. There’s no way to predict how the situation will unravel, so you want to record everything you can while the event is still fresh in your mind, no matter how irrelevant certain details might seem.
Later during the proceedings, one of those seemingly insignificant details you noted could provide the foundation on which you build your entire claim.
3. Reach out to the at-Fault Party’s Carrier
Chances are you need your car virtually every day, so you’re going to want to get the repairs underway as soon as possible. This starts with reaching out to the carrier who will be processing your property damage claim.
If you did not get the at-fault motorist’s insurance information at the scene, reach out to the local police department. They should have everyone’s contact details on file.
While you’re entitled to proceed independently, it’s wise to call an attorney before advancing beyond this point. A seasoned lawyer can put together a strong property damage claim on your behalf and then handle all correspondence with the opposing party in the ensuing weeks.
More specifically, you can rely on your legal team to:
· Obtain the evidence needed to convince the insurance adjuster of their policyholder’s liability,
· Serve as a liaison between the body shop and the carrier if any disputes arise,
· Confirm the repairs were completed by the body shop as promised,
· Ensure the repairs were paid for by the carrier as promised, and
· Advocate for your rights as a third-party claimant every step of the way.
If you were hurt in the accident, an experienced lawyer can also help you build a personal injury claim. By filing such an action, you can seek additional compensation for medical bills, lost wages, diminished quality of life, and other associated damages.
4. Bring Your Vehicle to a Body Shop
Once the carrier has been made aware of the situation, have your vehicle towed to a body shop. Keep in mind that pursuant to Nevada Revised Statute 690B.016, car accident claimants have the right to choose which body shop works on their vehicle. The insurer cannot require you to use a specific shop, nor can they demand that you get several estimates before choosing the most affordable one.
5. Confirm the Sourcing of Any New Parts
If the repairs include any new parts, ask the mechanic where the shop will be getting them. When repairs can be performed with aftermarket parts, they likely must be used; however, if there are no available aftermarket parts that meet the vehicle’s specifications, the insurer must cover the cost of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.
Generally speaking, carriers have an obligation to restore vehicles to as close to pre-loss condition as possible. That often means using OEM parts, which tend to cost more than the aftermarket options.
6. Request Documentation of All the Work That Was Performed
When picking up your car, ask the body shop for paper copies of all associated documentation. These records will come in handy if you ever want to sell the vehicle. They could also help if the carrier later decides to challenge your claim.
Make sure you don’t leave the shop without:
· An itemized repair bill,
· A comprehensive list of all the parts that were replaced,
· A copy of the shop’s warranty, and
· Any relevant spec sheets regarding adjustments that were made.
7. Inspect Your Vehicle Closely
Once you get your car back from the shop, scrutinize it from all angles, paying particular attention to the areas that sustained the most damage in the collision. Were all the dents removed? Does the paint match? Are there any imperfections in the trim?
You should also take your vehicle for a drive in a quiet neighborhood and observe how it handles. Is it operating how it should? Do you hear strange noises coming from the engine?
If there are any issues, call the body shop to discuss your concerns. If they’re uncooperative, your attorney can apply the legal pressure needed to have them make things right in conjunction with the insurer.
Speak with a Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney
If you want to hold a reckless driver responsible for the damages they’ve caused, turn to Maier Gutierrez & Associates. A full-service civil litigation firm, we provide the resources of a large practice while still offering the personalized and attentive counsel you’d expect from a small law office.
Our team is composed of experienced trial attorneys whose distinctions include Super Lawyers, Martindale Hubbell AV ratings, and Top Attorneys by Nevada Business Magazine. To set up your free case review with a car accident lawyer in Las Vegas, submit our Contact Form or call 702-629-7900.