So, you just got into an accident and luckily you received the other driver’s insurance information—you have now started a third-party claim and the insurance company has just accepted full liability on behalf on their insured (the other driver). What do you do now? What damages are you entitled to? What things should you keep in mind when working with insurance? Do you need an attorney?
Car insurance companies tend to over-estimate cost of repairs and under-estimate the value of your vehicle pre-accident. In order to meet the definition of a “salvage vehicle” under the Texas Transportation Code (declaring total loss), the insurance company must show that total cost of repairs exceeds the actual cash value of the motor vehicle immediately before the damage. You, as the third-party claimant, have the right to provide your own repair estimate and your own vehicle appraisal.
Other Tangible/Intangible Damages
In addition to repair/replacement of the vehicle, and regarding the third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance, you are ultimately entitled to both intangible and tangible damages. These damages can be itemized and organized as follows:
- Lost wages
- Out-of-pocket medical expenses
- Rental car expenses
- Diminished value of the vehicle
- Future out-of-pocket medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of use
- Permanent impairment
Once you are ready to settle (basically when you feel like you did prior to the accident, both physically and mentally), there are important strategies to keep in mind during your recovery:
- Document/assess how you suffered intangible damages every day since the accident
- Request the offer in writing; never agree to anything over the phone
- Formulate a written counter-response to provide the narrative of your experience.
- Keep a daily journal of your intangible damages
- Document and record receipts regarding any tangible expenses
- Expect the first offer from insurance to be low (they know this)
- Never settle until you feel like you did before the accident happened
- Remember the 2-year deadline to bring suit
Remember, you can always retain the services of a personal injury attorney to directly represent you, if necessary.
Every accident is a little different, and Fears Law is happy to speak with you if you have any questions or need representation. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joseph Higgins is an attorney for the Business Law Division of the firm, specifically serving the ARAG legal plan. Joseph loves assisting clients on a variety of legal issues and loves working with his fellow colleagues to help and serve. When he’s not working, you can find him enjoying the outdoors and travelling with his wife and dog.