If your car or truck has been damaged or totaled in an accident, you probably want to file an insurance claim. Here are some answers to some questions you may have about that process in the State of Washington.
Do I need an attorney or lawyer to file my property damage claim with an insurance company?
No, you do not need a lawyer to file a property damage claim. In fact, most accident victims deal with the property damage issues without representation by a lawyer.
We present this information here as an aid to anyone who is attempting to deal with insurance companies regarding property damage claims.
It can, however, be very advantageous to have an attorney represent you for the personal injury portion of your claim arising from an accident. If you have been injured as the result of an accident, please contact our office so that one of our auto accident attorneys can speak with you regarding your potential claim for personal injury.
Do I have a choice about which insurance company to file a claim with?
Yes, in certain situations. If the accident was caused by the negligence of the driver of another vehicle, you have two choices: (1) file your property damage claim with your own insurance company; or (2) file your property damage claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
Which insurance company should I file my property damage claim with?
Your choice here depends on several factors (explained in more detail below):
What if I file my property damage claim with my own insurance company?
First, your insurance company will require you to pay the deductible amount on your policy’s collision coverage. If the other driver is at fault, your insurance company can recover that deductible amount from the other driver’s insurance company, and then will repay it to you. The main problem with this situation is that you may have to wait weeks or months to get reimbursed for the deductible amount.
Second, your insurance company is not required to pay for a rental car for you … unless you have that specific coverage on your policy. You can call your insurance agent to find out if you have that coverage.
Personal Injury Claim
Third, it is important to understand that there is often a relationship between the extent of your property damage and the amount you can recover for personal injury. Insurance adjusters often reason that “If the property damage was so minimal, then you must not have been injured.”
If you file your property damage claim with the other driver’s insurance company, they may work to minimize the dollar amount of your claim, knowing that a lower property damage amount will be in their favor when it comes time to negotiate your personal injury claims. In cases where you are not at fault, your own insurance company does not have that motive. The other insurance company will ultimately pay for both your property damage and personal injury claims.
Finally, a big advantage to filing a claim with your own insurance company is that you already have a contractual relationship with them through your insurance policy. This means that your own insurance company is held to higher legal standards to protect your interests. If they don’t live up to those standards, you have a much stronger case for legal recourse against them than you might have against the other driver’s insurance company. Moreover, because of the enhanced legal duty of “good faith,” it is less likely that your insurance company will place its interests above your interests.
What if I file my property damage claim with the other driver’s insurance company?
You don’t have to pay any deductible to the insurance company of the other driver.
The insurance company of the other driver will likely provide you with a rental vehicle while yours is being repaired, or until a settlement offer is made on a vehicle that is a total loss.
Personal Injury Claim
As stated above, it is important to understand that there is often a relationship between the extent of your property damage and the amount you can recover for personal injury. If you file your property damage claim with the other driver’s insurance company, they may be motivated to try to minimize the dollar value of the property damage to your car. This can later help them make an argument for a lower personal injury amount.
Unlike the situation with your own insurance company, the other insurance company has no contractual relationship with you. That is, they have no “duty of good faith” to protect your interests. They are looking out for themselves and the other driver, with whom they have a contract (policy). With regard to you, they are simply interested in resolving your claim and moving on. It is virtually impossible to successfully bring suit against another person’s insurance company.
Not sure which insurance company to file your claim with?
We can help you with that decision. Just contact our office to speak with one of our auto accident attorneys who can help you understand how to make the best choice.
Do I have to file my personal injury claim along with my property damage claim?
Absolutely not! In fact, this is a very important point for all victims of motor vehicle accidents to understand. Your property damage claim is handled separately from any personal injury claim. As a rule, the property damage is taken care of first, and then later any personal injury claims are settled.
Because personal injuries may not manifest completely until some time after the accident, it is important that you don’t rush into any settlement for a personal injury claim. If you have injuries or other losses resulting from the accident, it’s a good idea to get some legal advice from a personal injury attorney. Just contact our office to speak with one of our auto accident attorneys who can discuss your claims for personal injury and other losses.
What happens after I file my property damage claim?
An insurance adjuster will examine your vehicle to determine the extent of the damage. At that point, an important decision is made that affects the rest of the process of settling your property damage claim.
If the adjuster determines that your vehicle is repairable, then you are ready to start the repair process. For information on the steps in this process, see Getting Your Vehicle Repaired.
If the adjuster determines that your vehicle is a total loss, then you need to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. For information on dealing with this process, see Dealing with a “Total Loss” Vehicle.
"Wiener & Lambka always kept me up to date with my case. I'd certainly suggest them to a friend." - J. Trujillo“I was satisfied by the timely manner with which my case was handled. I would definitely recommend Wiener & Lambka to a friend in the future.” - D. Yusuf“The service and the staff were great. I was happy with everything, and would refer Wiener and Lambka to someone else in the future.” - I. Aleman“Wiener & Lambka get the job done. I appreciated their concern and interest in my case, and would definitely recommend them to a friend.” - Y. Martin“Everyone was great. The staff at Wiener and Lambka make a good thing out of a bad situation, and for that, I am very thankful.” - D. Grami"It was a stress free experience. I particularly enjoyed when, on my initial call, they sent someone out to my house to speak with me in person. I would certainly use or recommend Wiener & Lambka in the future." - M. Randall“A job well done! The staff at Wiener and Lambka made a point of explaining everything to me and if necessary I’d work with them again in a heartbeat.” - O. Yusuf“You minimized my stress levels on a process foreign and scary to me. Very professional, caring, and patient with me.” - A. Maas“Wiener & Lambka took care of the leg work for me and even managed to get a larger settlement than expected.” - J. Hanson“Calls were returned in a timely manner, and the office staff is friendly. I’d recommend Wiener and Lambka to a friend in the future.” - T. Their“Wiener & Lambka helped me through the process, always discussing all of the available options. In particular, I was happy about the ease with which I was able to access my attorneys.”- B. Froton“Everything was great. It was the best legal experience I have ever had!” - T. Hoskins“In my moment of Crisis Wiener & Lambka lent me a helping hand. Their dedication to my case was outstanding. They stuck by my side and fought for my rights. Thank you!” - K. Tuazon“The Staff at Wiener and Lambka are friendly and understand customer needs. They reduced their fee on my case and didn’t even take any on my son’s.” - M. Ngo“Wiener and Lambka did a good job of keeping me up to date on my case, and I’d definitely suggest their services to someone looking for an attorney.” - L. Lafond
Personal Injury Firms Seattle
Personal Injury Lawyer Bellevue
Personal Injury Lawyer Burien
Personal Injury Lawyer Sumner
personal injury lawyer auburn
personal injury lawyer covington
personal injury lawyer everett wa
personal injury lawyer fife
personal injury lawyer issaquah
personal injury lawyer kent
personal injury lawyer lakewood
personal injury lawyer bonney lake
personal injury lawyer enumclaw
personal injury lawyer federal way
personal injury lawyer kirkland
personal injury lawyer north bend
personal injury lawyer redmond
personal injury lawyer lynnwood
personal injury attorney in tacoma
personal injury lawyer puyallup
personal injury lawyer renton
personal injury lawyer seatac
personal injury lawyer south hill
personal injury lawyer tukwila
personal injury lawyer white center
personal injury lawyer woodinville
Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Seattle
Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Bellevue
Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Tacoma
Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Burien
Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Sumner
Pedestrian Accident lawyer auburn
Pedestrian Accident lawyer everett wa
Pedestrian Accident lawyer fife
Pedestrian Accident lawyer issaquah
Pedestrian Accident lawyer kent
Pedestrian Accident lawyer lakewood
Pedestrian Accident lawyer federal way
Pedestrian Accident lawyer kirkland
Pedestrian Accident lawyer north bend
Pedestrian Accident lawyer redmond
Pedestrian Accident lawyer lynnwood
Pedestrian Accident lawyer puyallup
Pedestrian Accident lawyer renton
Pedestrian Accident lawyer seatac
Pedestrian Accident lawyer tukwila