A major concern for anyone who’s been involved in a car accident caused by another driver is their damaged vehicle. In the legal world, that is referred to as property damage. If you were injured in the accident, please consult with your lawyer before doing anything. Too often, while trying to deal with their damaged vehicle, people make statements to insurance adjusters that create unnecessary issues with their injury claim.

Step 1 – Call either the at-fault insurance or your own to report the damage.

A – Via the at-fault driver’s insurance. Pros: You don’t need to pay a deductible. Cons: They may legally take up to 30-days to accept responsibility and start the claim.


B – Via your own insurance. Pros: The claim is processed faster. Cons: You’ll have to pay the deductible, at least until the at-fault insurance accepts responsibility for the accident.

When talking with the insurance company about your damaged vehicle it’s important to only talk about the property damage. Don’t give a recorded statement about the accident or discuss your injuries if you suffered any. Do tell the insurance company where the damaged vehicle currently is. If it’s in a tow yard, you will need to sign a document for the insurance to get it out.

If your vehicle was not safely drivable from the accident scene, you will soon face issues of how to get your belongings from the vehicle if it is in a tow yard.  The towing company will charge you for the tow and storage fees for every day your vehicle has been there until the at-fault insurance company accepts fault or your own auto insurance policy kicks in to cover those fees. If you pay any of those fees out of pocket, they’ll be reimbursed to you once the property damage claim is settled.

Step 2 – Fix your vehicle or get a fair offer if it’s a total loss.

A – The insurance company via their adjuster determines the vehicle is repairable.

You’ll receive an estimate on repair costs. Decide which repair shop to use and remember that you don’t have to use the one recommended by the insurance company. Once the vehicle is fixed, sign the insurance property damage release from the adjuster.


B – The insurance company via their adjuster determines the vehicle is a total loss.

The insurance will make you an offer for the totaled vehicle. Make sure it’s a fair offer by comparing vehicles (same year, make, model, and accessories) on www.kbb.com, www.carfax.com, www.edmunds.com, or other sites. If the offer appears to be fair, accept it, and you’ll receive a check from the insurance.

If the offer is below comparable vehicle prices, send the insurance evidence. If they still won’t make you a fair offer, try the other insurance involved (the at-fault, or your own), and accept the better offer. If you want to keep your totaled vehicle, talk to the adjuster and pay the determined salvage value.

Step 3 – Get a rental car until your vehicle is repaired or replaced.

A – Rent through the at-fault insurance.

Pros: They’ll give you a rental until your car is repaired or the offer for a total loss is made.

Cons: They won’t give you a rental until they accept responsibility for the accident, which may take up to 30 days.


B – Rent through your own insurance.

Pros: It’s usually faster than waiting for the at-fault insurance.

Cons: Depending on your policy you may need to pay the deductible and then be reimbursed later on.


C – Rent out of your own pocket.

Pros: This is the fastest option.

Cons: You’ll have to pay out of your own pocket and then wait to be reimbursed once the at-fault insurance accepts responsibility.

If you choose option C, you will be faced with whether to purchase the extra insurance offered by the rental car company and which “level” of rental car you are entitled to and how long you may keep it.  You should consult with your lawyer about which options are best for you.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by someone else, get in touch with the experienced car accident attorneys of Craig Swapp & Associates. Unfortunately, there’s no easy step-by-step guide for anyone to get through a personal injury claim. Our attorneys will take care of the claim so you can focus on healing.

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp