Q: What about getting my car fixed?
A: Shocking and as traumatic as an automobile accident is, adequate insurance coverage and competent legal representation can help turn a seemingly devastating accident into a minor inconvenience. If your car cannot be driven away from the accident scene, it may be impounded and towed away immediately to clear the roadway. It may be taken to a storage facility and held there until you designate where it should be taken for repairs. The involved insurance companies are responsible for the payment of towing and storage fees. You may choose whatever mechanic, body shop or repair facility you wish to fix your car. You are not required to get more than one estimate. You are not required to use a mechanic or body shop designated by the insurance company. It is your car, and it is your decision where and how it will be repaired to your satisfaction. Since insurance companies are footing the bill to repair your car, they want to have the work done as economically as possible and are in favor of lower estimates. However, a lower estimate may overlook details such as proper alignment, headlight adjustment, correct matching of paint colors, etc. After choosing your mechanic or body shop, and working out the details with them as to the type of work to be done, you can then present the insurance company with the estimate. Most mechanics are willing to discuss the necessary repairs with the insurance adjuster. If the adjuster can negotiate a lower price with your mechanic, that is his privilege. But you do not have to compromise quality for economy and you do not have to be involved in the haggling between the insurance company and the mechanic. Do not sign any releases until you are sure that the insurance company will cover the cost of all repairs to your satisfaction; and that they will give a check to the repair shop in a timely manner so that you can get your car back as soon as possible with no out-of-pocket expense to you. It is in your best interest to have an experienced personal injury lawyer review any releases before you sign them. If the cost of repairs is greater than the value of your car, the insurance company will offer to reimburse you only for what they consider to be the "fair market value" of the car. This figure will quite often be much lower than the purchase price of the vehicle because the insurance company: 1) will deduct for depreciation of the automobile; 2) will not reimburse you for finance or preparation charges, and 3) may use a schedule which does not reflect a current fair and equitable value for the car. Check out the different periodicals (Kelly Blue Book, Auto Trader, Reader, want ads, etc.) to find the best comparable price for your car. Also factor in items like towing, storage, inconvenience for loss of the use of your car, etc., in order to obtain a better offer from the insurance adjuster.