FAQs on Motor Vehicle Damage

When your vehicle is damaged in an automobile accident, you will want to have it repaired and on the road again as quickly as possible.

I was told I must take my car to a specific repair facility. Must I do this?

No. You have the right to select a repair facility of your choice. The insurance company decides how much will be paid for the repairs, and it may not be the same amount as the repair shop estimate.

Will the repair shop charge me for storage?

The insurance company of the person who caused the accident will pay towing and storage costs, according to what is reasonable in your area. If the vehicle is declared a total loss, the insurance company will pay to have it moved to a salvage or wrecking yard. If you do not allow the company to move your vehicle, you will be liable for any storage or towing fees. If the vehicle is abandoned at the repair shop, the vehicle is subject to disposal under LA-RS 32:1728.

Who decides if my vehicle is repairable or “totaled”?

The insurance company that is liable for payment can decide that your vehicle is not worth repairing. If the cost of the labor and parts exceeds the market value of your vehicle, the company can declare it a “total loss” and pay you the market value. Market value is determined by the fair market value of similar vehicles in your area, or from an independent source such as the Kelley Blue Book. If you want to keep the vehicle after it has been declared a total loss, you will have to pay the salvage value to the insurance company.  Even if your vehicle is not “totaled,” the liability insurer may owe money for diminished value.

Who pays the bank loan if my vehicle is financed?

You are still liable for any loans on the vehicle. If the fair market value of your vehicle is less than the outstanding loan (you are upside-down on your auto loan), you are still required to pay the entire amount of the loan. If you are upside down on your loan, check the paperwork you received from the dealership where you purchased the vehicle to see if you purchased GAP (guaranteed auto protection) insurance to pay off the full amount of your loan.

Do I get a rental vehicle while my vehicle is being repaired?

You can always get a rental vehicle if you are willing to pay for it. If you want the insurance company to pay for it, while your vehicle is being repaired or replaced, then payment depends on several factors. If you caused the accident, check to see if your insurance coverage includes rental vehicles. Many policies do not include rental vehicles unless it is explicitly stated. If the other driver caused the accident, then you can expect the liable person’s insurance company to pay the costs of providing you with a rental vehicle. If the liable person’s insurer does not pay, attorney fees and penalties may be owed under LA-R.S. 22:1892. The vehicle will be a substitute for your vehicle, that is, a vehicle of similar quality. Be sure to check with your own insurance company about insurance coverage on the rental vehicle.

If you need help or have any questions about your car accident, call me at 866-558-9151 or submit your inquiry online. Please be advised that you may be facing important legal deadlines, so don’t delay.

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