Repairs and Total Loss
One of the first issues that arises in the aftermath of a Florida Automobile Accident relates to property damage, vehicle repairs, or total loss of the vehicle. For many injury victims, the vehicle that is involved in the crash is the sole source or main source of transportation. When the motor vehicle is damaged, the daily routine of the injury victim is disrupted. The property damage and operability of the motor vehicle can affect the work routine, day care, school, and other transportation needs. Because of this, time is of the essence in either getting the motor vehicle repaired OR resolving the issue of the total loss of the vehicle.
Property damage claims can be processed or pursued under Property Damage coverage with the at-fault driver's or at-fault owner's insurance policy OR under the Collision coverage under the injury victim's insurance coverage. It should be noted that some insurance policies allow for or cover rental car expenses. Some automobile insurance policies do not cover rental car coverage. It all depends on the insurance company and the amount / type of insurance purchased by the vehicle owner.
Before an insurance company will approve the payment for the repairs or total loss of the vehicle, the automobile insurance company will conduct its own investigation. The police report will be requested and reviewed. The insurance company will also obtain a statement from the named insured, witnesses, and other drivers (if possible). The automobile insurance company will not approve the payment of repairs or the total loss unless it is clear that the insurance company under the terms of the insurance policy and based on the facts and circumstances is obligated to pay for these damages.
Many injury victims are confused as to the difference between Property Damage insurance coverage and Collision insurance coverage. There is also some confusion or question as to which insurance company to speak to and how the process works. As such, it is helpful to consult with Florida Personal Injury Attorney as to the rights and responsibilities as it applies to property damage, vehicle repairs, and total loss claims. Some Florida Personal Injury Attorneys will not handle the property damage aspect of the claim or crash. David A. Wolf, an attorney with 30 years of experience, will discuss and guide you through the issues and maze involved in pursuing the property damage, motor vehicle repairs, and when applicable the total loss claim for the vehicle.
It should also be noted the the State of Florida has adopted a comparative negligence form of law regarding automobile accident claims for personal injuries and / or property damage. In other words, fault can be assessed to more than one of the drivers involved in the Florida automobile accident or crash. If an insurance company takes the position that the accident or crash was partially the fault of the injury victim, the insurance company may only agree to pay for a portion or percentage of the property damage claim. It should be noted that the police report and investigation are important; however, the police report and investigation are not necessarily binding or controlling on the insurance company or the other driver.
If the automobile insurance company determines that the repairs will exceed 80 % of the value of the vehicle, then the insurance company will most likely determine the vehicle to be a total loss. Then, the insurance company will attempt to resolve the claim for the total loss value of the vehicle. Keep in mind the value of the vehicle is different than the amount owed on the vehicle. Let's say that a vehicle is totaled in a crash. The vehicle is worth $7,000 but has an outstanding automobile loan of $9,000 on the vehicle. Under this general fact scenario, the automobile insurance company will attempt the resolve the total loss claim or case for $7,000 which is the value of the vehicle rather than $9,000 which is the outstanding loan on the vehicle.