If the Accident Wasn’t My Fault, Who Will Pay for My Property Damage?
If another driver hits your vehicle, causing damage, and that driver is at fault, his/her liability insurance coverage is generally responsible for repairing the damage to your automobile. Unfortunately, there are certain challenges that people face when this occurs. The number one problem people face is the lengthy amount of time it takes to get the adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company to actually compensate you for your car or to actually have your damages repaired.
The first thing you have to do is wait for the police report. Generally, in Georgia, it takes a police department three to five days to issue the report. The police report contains important information about the other driver and his/her liability insurance information. Often, people do not report accidents that they cause to their own insurance company. This is probably because most folks hope that the other driver might repair their own vehicle or simply go through their own collision coverage.
When most of my clients get their own police report and contact the at-fault driver’s insurance, it is often the first time the other driver’s insurance has heard about the accident. The other driver’s insurance then has to set up a claim, which takes time. They also have to contact their own insured, who caused the accident, to confirm what actually happened.
Guess what? Often, their own insured will not call them back, or will take many days before calling their insurance company back. Then, guess what? Sometimes, they lie and say that the accident was not their fault, even though the police report clearly has their driver listed as the at-fault driver. Believe me, these delays can go on for a long time, even though it’s very clear from the police report that another driver caused damage to your vehicle.
Why Should I Use My Own Car Insurance First to Fix My Property Damage?
You may be wondering why a lawyer would tell you to go through your own insurance first to fix your property damage, especially when the accident wasn’t your fault. Let me explain…
I would advise going through your own insurance to fix your car damage, but only if you have collision coverage. Collision coverage will repair your vehicle, irrespective of who is at fault in causing damage to it. The major benefit of going through your collision coverage is that you can have the repairs made quickly through your own insurance. Your insurance company can then go after the other driver’s insurance for reimbursement on the cost of the repair. This should not affect your insurance rates, because you were not at-fault in causing the accident and your insurance company is getting reimbursed from the other driver’s insurance company. This may take a while, but at least you are not having to wait on the other driver’s insurance to repair your vehicle. Of course, this only works if you have collision coverage to pay for your vehicle’s repair.
What Should I Do If the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Won’t Call Me Back About Fixing My Car?
This is one of the most frustrating things that folks have to deal with after an accident. You have been trying to contact the other driver’s insurance company, but they will not call you back. We see this quite often, insurance companies delay in contacting you to avoid paying on your claim. Maybe they think you will just give up, as some people do.
Fortunately, under Georgia law, there is a provision, O.C.G.A. §33-4-7, which provides for penalties against an insurance company if they stubbornly refuse to repair your vehicle when it is obvious from the police report that their driver is responsible for causing damage to your vehicle. We usually send a letter by certified mail to guarantee that the insurance company receives it. This is the remedy that you have when the insurance company stubbornly refuses to repair your vehicle. Unfortunately, sometimes you just have to take them to court.
Disclaimer: It is important to note that this is general information, and should not be considered “legal advice.” I have been handling personal injury cases for many years, and can offer general answers to common questions, but please do not construe anything on this website to be legal advice about YOUR CASE. Each case is different! An attorney can only give legal advice when he or she understands the facts involved in your case.