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Who Pays For My Car Repairs After a Florida Car Accident?

June 25, 2023 – Michael S. Herman, Jr., Esq.

Who Pays For My Car Repairs After a Florida Car Accident? Britto & Herman Injury Lawyers

After Florida car accident you want to get your car repaired quickly and without any added stress. Here are the steps you can take to get back on the road as soon as possible following a Florida car accident.

First, you will have to decide whether to repair the damaged car under the at-fault driver’s automobile insurance policy “property damage” coverage OR under your own automobile insurance policy “collision” coverage following a Florida car accident.

Most car crash victims wish to proceed under the at-fault driver’s property damage insurance coverage following a crash rather than make a claim under their own auto policy’s collision coverage. However, the at-fault driver’s property damage coverage will not always pay for repairs following a Florida car accident.

In fact, Florida law only requires car owners to carry $10,000.00 in minimum property damage coverage and many drivers buy the minimum coverage for various reasons.

Even worse, some Florida drivers are uninsured and have no property damage coverage at all despite the legal requirement to carry at least $10,000.00 in property damage coverage.

Therefore, if your elect to proceed under the at-fault driver’s policy you will need to next determine if there is enough property damage coverage for your car repairs.

Is There Enough Property Damage Coverage to Pay for My Repairs?

If the at-fault driver’s property damage coverage limit is less than the cost of your repairs, you may want to repair your car through your own collision coverage (if you purchased that coverage) after a Florida car accident.

For example, if your repair costs are $12,000 and the at-fault driver’s property damage limits are only $10,000 you may want to proceed with repairs under your own car insurance policy to avoid paying the repair shop out of pocket for the difference.

Likewise, if other vehicles were also damaged in a crash caused by one driver with a low property damage limit, there may not be enough property damage insurance to cover everyone’s repairs.

For example, if the negligent driver caused significant damage to two or more vehicles, there may not be enough property damage coverage for all the necessary repairs depending on the applicable property damage limit. Again, you may wish to proceed under your own collision coverage to avoid extra out of pocket costs in a limited coverage, multiple vehicle crash scenario.

Property damage coverage is not just limited to car repairs, it can pay for the repair or replacement cost of all physical property damaged in a Florida crash including light poles, traffic signs, landscaping, walls/barriers or other physical property such as personal items inside your car (computers, tools, etc) damaged in a Florida crash.

Keep in mind that there may not be enough property damage insurance coverage for your car repairs if your crash involved damages to multiple types of property that when added together exceed the property damage coverage limit.

Is There a Dispute about Who Caused the Accident?

Additionally, if there is a dispute about who caused the car accident you may not be able to convince the other driver’s insurance company to accept responsibility and pay for your repairs. Again, you may wish to proceed under your own collision coverage in a disputed liability Florida car accident.

What If There Is Plenty of Coverage and the at-fault Driver Accepts 100% Fault?

If there is enough property damage coverage on the at-fault driver’s policy to pay for all the repairs and the insurance company accepts 100% liability (fault for the crash) on behalf of their insured driver, you will likely be able to proceed with your car repairs through the at-fault driver’s insurance company following a Florida car accident.

You’ll likely have the right to take the vehicle to the repair shop of your choice and have reasonable and necessary repairs covered along with a rental car for the reasonable period of repair (up to the coverage limit of course) when proceeding with car repairs under the negligent driver’s property damage insurance.

What If There Is Not Enough Property Damage Coverage or the at-fault Insurance Company Refuses to Accept 100% Fault?

If there is not enough property damage coverage on the at-fault driver’s policy to pay for your car repairs or the insurance company refuses to accept 100% liability (fault for the crash) on behalf of their insured driver, you may wish to proceed under your own collision coverage for car repairs.

Collision coverage is a type of insurance coverage that you purchase on your car insurance policy in case of a Florida car accident. Collision coverage is an optional car insurance coverage meaning it is not required under Florida law. Collision coverage pays for your car repairs regardless of who caused the accident or how many cars were involved.

If you financed or leased your car in Florida, collision coverage is often required by the loan company or car dealership even though it is not required by law. Otherwise, many drivers decide not to purchase collision coverage in order to save money on their policy since it is not required by law. Declining collision coverage is usually a huge mistake, especially given all of the issues that arise when making a property damage claim against the other driver’s automobile insurance policy.

If you failed to purchase collision coverage on your Florida car insurance policy, you’ll be stuck with whatever you can recover from the at-fault party’s insurance company or the at-fault party themselves (including the negligent driver and the vehicle owner).

What Is a Collision Deductible?

If you did purchase collision coverage, you may have selected a deductible to lower your policy payment. A deductible is the amount of money you are required to pay towards car repairs following a Florida car accident before your insurance company will begin paying. The car insurance company pays only for reasonable and necessary repairs that exceed the deductible you selected.

Common collision deductibles on Florida car insurance policies are $250, $500, or $1000. If the cost of your repairs falls under your deductible, you will be responsible to pay for the repairs. Keep this in mind when determining whether to proceed under your collision coverage or the at fault driver’s property damage coverage.

If you do not have collision coverage or your repairs do not exceed your deductible, you may wish to proceed with your car repairs under the at-fault driver’s property damage coverage.

How Do I Start the Repair Process Once I Decide Which Insurance Company to Use?

Once you decide which insurance to use for repairs, you’ll want to contact the necessary insurance company to begin the repair process. For many people, this is the point at which they contact a Florida car accident lawyer.

However, if you wish to handle your own repair claim you should make sure you discuss only your property damage and repairs with the insurance company. Never discuss your injuries or how the accident occurred without first speaking to an experienced Florida car accident lawyer.

Once the appropriate insurance company has been contacted they will send someone out to inspect the vehicle (or have you submit damage photographs) so that they can prepare an estimate outlining the repair costs. Once the repair estimate is complete, you’ll take your vehicle to a body shop to begin repairs.

What Happens If the Body Shop Finds Additional Vehicle Damage that Needs Repairs?

Often a body shop will find additional damage when they take the car apart to begin repairs. If additional repairs are needed beyond what the insurance company initially estimated, your body shop should obtain insurance company approval before performing the additional repairs. This is called a “supplement” and happens regularly enough that a good body shop will know how to handle it without much work on your end.

Typical repairs can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. One major factor is whether parts need to be ordered. Another is whether a supplement was needed as they can take up to a week or more for the insurance company to approve. We regularly see car repairs take up to thirty days at Florida body shops.

What If My Car Is Declared a Total Loss and Cannot Be Repaired?

Of course, your car may not be repairable at all after a Florida car accident. Instead, the insurance company may declare your vehicle to be a total loss. A vehicle is considered a total loss when the cost to repair the vehicle exceeds the value of the vehicle.

For example, if your car was worth $25,000 but now needs $30,000 in repairs it will likely be declared a total loss since the repair costs exceed the car’s value.

In a total loss scenario, you’ll want to consult online resources like Kelly Blue Book, Auto Trader, NADA Guides and others to make sure you are receiving a fair offer from the insurance company after a Florida car accident. You’ll also want to ask the insurance company for their appraisal or valuation report to make sure they are comparing your vehicle with similar vehicles and aren’t missing any features or information about your vehicle that would increase their appraisal. You may wish to obtain your own total loss appraisal if you do not agree with the insurance company’s total loss appraisal.

Who Pays for My Car Repairs after a Florida Car Accident?

In summary, after a Florida car crash first decide whether to proceed under the at-fault property damage coverage or your own collision coverage. Next, begin the repair process with your chosen insurance company by calling to open a claim following a crash. They’ll assign an appraiser and prepare an estimate. Next, you’ll take your car to a body shop to begin repairs. If the body shop finds additional damages, they should request insurance company approval before completing the additional repairs. Generally, the repair process can take up to thirty days or more.

Of course, we always recommend consulting with a Florida personal injury lawyer prior to speaking with any insurance companies about your Florida car crash. If you need help after a Florida car accident, contact the experienced Florida law firm of Britto & Herman Injury Lawyers at (561) 835-5555(561) 835-5555 for a free consultation.

Injured in a Florida car crash? We can help. Click here to learn more about our lawyers and click here to learn more about our results. We have a winning track record and the experience needed to help you after a Florida car accident.

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