You were involved in a car crash, and your car is severely damaged or totaled. You can’t get to work. You can’t use it for everyday things, but you still have a bodily injury claim you would like to settle, too. Can you settle one before you settle the other? Yes, you can settle your car damage before you settle your bodily injury claim.
While the two different claims come from the same accident, you can, in fact, resolve one while the other one is still in the process of being resolved. Clients come to me all the time. They’re still treating for injuries they have from the car crash claim, but the damage to their car has been done, and they need a car to get to work, take their kids to school, pick up their errands, do their grocery shopping, what have you. In California, everybody needs a car to get somewhere, so you want to get that car claim resolved as quickly as possible. And guess what, the other driver’s insurance company does, too. If there’s coverage, they want to get it resolved for you as quickly as possible because it keeps down your loss of use claim. In other words, the amount of time you would have to rent a vehicle to replace it.
So, what do you do in that instance? Well, you arrange for the other driver’s insurance company to come out and inspect your vehicle. They will tell you if the vehicle is what’s called a total loss, meaning it’s going to cost more to repair it than it would to replace it, or if the vehicle can in fact be repaired. This is one of the few instances where it’s okay to communicate with the other driver’s insurance company and give them an opportunity to come out and inspect the vehicle. When they do inspect the vehicle, make sure you discuss nothing about the underlying facts of the case, nothing about your injures, nothing about the other claims and damages that you might have from the case, but strictly focus on the vehicle or the car that was damaged in the crash. After the inspection you will receive either an estimate or a letter from the other driver’s insurance company telling you if they’re going to pay to replace or repair the vehicle – whichever is lesser of the two.