If you're in an accident, insurance will often cover the cost of vehicle repairs. But what happens if your vehicle had pre-existing damages? Things get a little trickier, and the insurance adjuster will likely pay you less on your claim.
What Counts As Pre-Existing Damage?
Simply, any damage that existed before the time of the accident. Typically, collision repair experts can examine damage on a car and indicate how old those dents and scratches are. The opinion of a trained expert can be used as poof if there was (or wasn't) damage before the accident.
What If the Wreck Damages My Car in the Same Spot as Old Damages?
If the new damages from the accident are located in the same area as previous damages, the insurance company may deem the car in no worse condition than it was before the accident. Because of this, they won't compensate you for the cost of repairs. If you think the damage now is worth more than any pre-existing dents or scratches, you'll need to negotiate with the insurance adjuster.
What If Evidence Is Damaged in the Wreck?
Let's use an example. Say Sally was driving when Joe suddenly merged into her lane. He didn't use his blinker because his tail light was out, and Sally rear-ended him. However, when Sally's car hit Joe's, it smashed the back, destroying the tail light (and any evidence that the light wasn't working).
Sally says Joe's at-fault because he was driving with a broken tail light. Joe says, "Prove it."
As you might expect, this situation is complicated. Since neither party wants to admit fault, a lawsuit will be filed. At that time, it will be up to a jury to decide who's "right." Like the court cases you see on TV, each side will have the opportunity to present evidence, and much of the result will depend on the evidence presented.
What's the Next Step?
After a wreck, you're going to need to file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company. Whoever caused the wreck will also be responsible for paying for the damages and injuries that resulted. Not sure who's at fault? Read my article on the subject here.
Were you hurt in the wreck?
If so, insurance can also cover the cost of your medical bills. Often, people choose to hire an attorney to handle their claim for them and to make sure they're getting the money they deserve for their damages and injuries. Personal injury attorneys don't charge by the hour.
If you were hurt in addition to your vehicle's damages and want to discuss your options, please don't hesitate to contact me to set up a free consultation at 817-294-1900.