After being involved in a car accident in Louisiana, you are likely to have damage to your vehicle and need to make a property damage claim. Sometimes the damage to your car is so severe that it is not drivable, which can cause big problems, including stopping you from getting to work, bringing your children to school, or making doctors appointments.
In order to get an insurance company to pay for your vehicle damage after a car accident, you need to start an insurance claim. After a car accident that is not considered to be your fault, you have two choices: you can make a claim against your own insurance company or you can make a claim against the insurance company of the driver who caused the car accident.
In this blog post, we try to answer some of the most frequent questions our clients have about the process for getting their vehicle repaired after the accident.
How Do I Make a Claim to Repair My Property Damage Following an Accident?
In order to start a claim with the insurance company for the other driver to institute an adjustment for your vehicle damages, you need to first find out who their insurance company is. Then, contact that insurance company to open a claim. You should have all of the information on your vehicle available to you, such as the Make, Model, VIN number and vehicle location. The adjuster may ask you questions about your vehicle or the facts of the loss. If you were injured in this accident, we recommend contacting us immediately and not discussing the accident with the insurance company at all. They will likely record the conversation and use it against you later. You are NOT required to cooperate with someone else's insurance company by doing a recorded statement.
To make a claim against your own insurance company, just give them a call or use their app on your phone if you have one. They will walk you through the process. Even if you are not planning to make a claim against your insurance company, it is wise to alert them that an accident occurred. They cannot raise your rates if you are involved in an accident that was not your fault.
How Do I Make a Claim to Repair My Property Damage Following an Accident if I am Also Injured?
It is very important to understand that your property damage claim is SEPARATE from any bodily injury claim. You have an entire year from the date of the car accident to formally bring a personal injury claim for injuries from a car accident in court. Do NOT let any insurance company trick you into taking a settlement for your injury claim while discussing your property damage. In fact, if you are injured in any way in the accident, we recommend you consult a personal injury attorney to help you with this process. We have seen too many clients come to us to pursue a claim only to have to tell them that they actually settled it already because they were tricked by the insurance company. We will give you a consultation for free and help you through your property damage claim for free as well - just fill out the form below and we will contact you or call our office at 504-828-3313.
How Long Does the Insurance Company have to Pay me for My Property Damage After a Car Accident?
For a driver who is at fault, their insurance company has 14 days after the accident to initiate loss adjustment. In other words, an insurance company must inspect the vehicle and provide an estimate within 14 days of the accident (30 days in catastrophic loss cases). See La. R.S. 1892(A)(2).
After the estimate is complete, the responsible insurance company “must offer to settle any property damage claim, including a third-party claim, within 30 days of receipt of satisfactory proof of loss. Unreasonable failure to make an offer subjects the insurer to penalties and attorney fees under La. R.S. 22:1892(B)(1).”
If the insurance companies do not pay you within the time frame without a reason, you will have a right to pursue penalties and bad faith damages. See: https://www.kieferandkiefer.com/blog/2019/2/14/what-happens-if-the-insurance-company-fails-to-pay-my-vehicle-damage
Should I Go Through My Insurance Company for My Property Damage Following a Car Accident?
After reading the above paragraph, you will know that even if the other insurance company does “everything right”, it still can be almost 44 days before the insurance company for the other driver decides to deny your claim, which will seem like a lifetime. Is there any way to shorten this process?
If you have insurance that covers the property damage, going through your insurance following the accident rather than the other driver's insurance is typically faster. If the accident was caused by another person, that person's insurance company will have to open up a “liability investigation”, which means that they have to investigate who was at fault in the accident before they will pay your property damage. This could mean taking statements from the owner of the car and the driver of the car to make sure they had permission to drive the car, that the accident was their fault, and that they were not using the vehicle for an improper purpose that would cause the insurance company not to pay. Sometimes, the insurance company cannot reach their insureds or the people involved in the accident give a version of the accident that differs from you and the insurance company will want to wait on the police report, which can take weeks.
You insurance company, in contrast, may have pay for your damages whether the accident was your fault or not, depending on your coverages, so they will institute a loss adjustment immediately after the accident. They also have an added incentive to help you because you are their customer and they want you to be happy. Almost every time, this will be faster than using the other person's insurance company. If the accident was determined to be the fault of the other driver, your insurance company will go get reimbursed from the other driver's insurance company through a process that is known as subrogation.
How Much Property Damage will the Insurance Company Pay for?
In short: it depends. The insurance policy will govern what damages are covered and under what circumstances. In Louisiana, drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of $25,000 of insurance to cover damage to your vehicle.
Does the Insurance Company Need to Provide me a Rental Car After a Car Accident?
Yes. If you are without your vehicle for 5 days because it is not driveable, the insurance company of the at-fault driver must pay for a rental car for the plaintiff. See La. R.S. 22:1892(B)(4).
Do I Have to Get My Vehicle Repaired at a Certain Shop?
No! The insurance company cannot require you have repairs to your damaged vehicle performed at a specific shop; you have the right to choose where repairs are made and the right to choose to take the money and not repair the vehicle at all. La. R.S. 22:1892.
What Do I Do About Towing and Storage Fees?
If you were involved in a serious accident, it is possible that your car was taken by a tow truck from the scene of the accident to a storage yard. The insurance company of the will be responsible for paying towing and storage costs. If the vehicle is declared a total loss, the insurance company will typically pay to have it moved to a salvage or wrecking yard and out of the storage yard. If the insurance company requests the vehicle to be moved and you do not allow the company to move your vehicle, you will be liable for any storage or towing fees, which can be substantial in Louisiana. If the vehicle is deemed abandoned . If the vehicle is not moved after 45 days, it will be considered under La. R.S. 32:1728 and the storage yard can dismantly or sell it after complying with the statute.
What Property Damage is Covered after a Car Accident?
When we say “property damage” after a car accident, most people assume we are just talking about damage to the actual vehicle. While this is typically the main thing that is damaged or destroyed after a car accident, some policies allow you to recover for damage to fixed items in your vehicle, such as an updated stereo system or subwoofer, or other things, such as personal property that happened to be in your vehicle, such as a laptop or a car seat.
What is a Diminished Value Claim?
If your car is relatively new or more expensive and is severely damaged but not totaled, you may have a diminished value claim. This means that prior to an accident, you were driving a car that had not been involved in a serious accident and now, because of the accident, you are. Should you wish to sell your car, that accident will likely appear on CARFAX or a similar website and so now the resale value of your car has gone down. You are entitled to be compensated for that.
Louisiana Revised Statute § 9:2800.17 is the source of diminished value claim. It allows you to recover additional damages for the “reduced value of the vehicle” when the vehicle was damaged, but not totaled, due to third party negligence.
In order to make these claims, we hire an expert to issue a report on the total reduced fair market value of your car to make you whole.
What if my Car was Totaled in the Accident?
A car is generally considered to be totaled if there is so much damage to your car that it is not worth repairing it compared to the value of the car. In Louisiana, an insurance company and you have the right to deem your car a “total loss” and “total” your car if the damages amount to 75% of the total value of the vehicle. In order to determine the total value of your vehicle, the insurance company will look to the National Automobile Dealers Association Handbook.
If your car is totaled, you still can seek additional compensation above the totaled amount of your vehicle if you have made any recent repairs to it, such as putting on new tires, a new soundsystem, etc.
If your car has not yet been paid off, the insurance company will seek information about the lienholder who you pay your car note to and likely send a check to pay off the remaining amount directly to them and send you a check for the amount.
You are typically given the option to keep the car for the salvage value of the car, but the insurance company will pay you less and deduct the salvage value of the car from the amount.
Who Pays my Property Damage after an accident if the Car Accident was My Fault?
If the car accident is your fault, you can make a claim against your own insurance company assuming you pay for collision coverage.
If you have been involved in a car accident, read our blog about the five mistakes to avoid after an accident:
The attorneys at Kiefer & Kiefer have been working on car accident and trucking accident cases for 60 years. The secret to our continued success in this city is that we know the law and we care about our clients, not just their cases. Almost all of our cases come from referrals from former clients who were happy with how we treated them and our results and reviews speak for themselves: https://www.kieferandkiefer.com/case-results. We are happy to give you a free consultation on an accident claim and give you as long as you need to ask us any and all questions you may have about how we can help you following a car crash.
Fill out the form below and we will contact you to schedule you for a free consultation on your car crash injury claim: