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A Car Accident Attorneys Guide of What to Do if Your Car Was Damaged in a Car Accident

By Robert Allison Subscribe to RSS | August 4th 2012 | Views:
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Here you will find useful information about insurance and some of the steps you should take if your car was damaged in a car accident.

1. If someone was injured or there was property damage over $1,000.00, you must notify the local motor vehicle accident claims or the local/state police AND the Registry of Motor Vehicles within five days of the accident. The accident form can be found at the Mass DOT website.

2. Notify your insurance company or agent promptly of the accident. In addition, you must file a proof of loss with your insurance company within 91 days of the accident.

3. You must allow the insurance company to have your car appraised and you should obtain a copy of the appraisal.

4. Select a repair shop and arrange to have your car repaired. If you learn that the costs to repair your car exceeds the appraisal, notify the insurance company immediately.

When your car is damaged in a collision because of someone else's negligence, contact a car accident lawyer, as you can pursue a claim for property damage against that person's insurance company.

You are entitled to the fair market value of the damaged property including any applicable sales tax and the costs resulting from the loss of use of the damaged property. This includes, storage, towing and rental costs.

If you have comprehensive insurance, you can pursue a claim against your own insurance company by searching for car accident attorneys, and choosing the car accident lawyer you feel best fits your situation. It doesn't matter who was at fault. The insurance company will pay the cost to repair the auto up to the actual cash value (ACV) of the car. The insurer will subtract the deductible. However, you can be reimbursed for the deductible if the other driver caused the accident. Any secured lenders will be paid first.

If the repairs exceed the ACV, the insurance company may purchase it for ACV minus the salvage value. You can negotiate with your insurer to purchase your car for the salvage value. However, your insurer will suspend coverage until the car passes a Motor Vehicle Inspection Test.

The insurance company is only obligated to pay for any storage or rental costs for a reasonable time. So, call the insurance company as soon as possible and find out how much and for how long the insurance company will pay these costs. If you cannot agree with the insurance company on how much it should pay, you may file a Small Claims Action against the insurance company (defendant). The initial amount claimed in a Small Claims Action must not exceed $7,000.00. However, there is no limit for motor vehicle property damage cases caused by a motor vehicle.

A Small Claims Action involves the following steps:

1. Collect all of the relevant information/evidence such as police reports, motor vehicle accident reports, photos of your car, appraisal(s), and repair bills.

2. Contact the Small Claims Clerk in your district.

3. Fill out a Small Claims Complaint. The Clerk will help you with this.

4. File the Small Claims Complaint with the Court together with the filing fee (these range from $40.00 - $150.00 depending on the size of your claim). The Court will fill in the date and time of trial and give you a copy.

5. You should get a trial date within one to four months from the date you file the complaint.

6. The Clerk will serve the defendant.

7. Prepare for the trial. Organize, review and make copies of your information/evidence. Make an outline (preferably in chronological order) of your evidence. You have the burden of proof. In a civil trial, this means you must prove that your evidence is more likely true than not.

8. Call the Court a week before the trial to make sure the defendant was served and the case is still on. If the defendant filed an answer, obtain a copy.

9. Attend the Trial/Hearing. Bring your information/evidence together with copies and, if possible, any helpful witnesses such as the person who repaired your car.

10. The parties are usually given an opportunity to mediate with a mediator before the Trial to see if they can settle their case. If the mediation is not successful, you will have a hearing before a clerk.

11. At the hearing, you and the defendant will tell your side of the story and you should submit any relevant documents to the Clerk, including documents which support the amount of damages you are seeking. These proceedings are very informal, there is no jury, and are usually held in front of a clerk rather than a judge.

12. After everyone has testified and any relevant documents have been submitted to the Court, the Clerk will decide who wins and the amount of the award, if any. If you win, the clerk will include the filing fee.

(Mass Auto Policy, 8th Edition, and M.G.L. Chapter 218, Sections 21-25 regarding Small Claims Actions.)

Robert Allison - About Author:
Personal Injury Attorney F. Robert Allison offers personal injury and real estate law services to people throughout Massachusetts. He has been helping his clients achieve positive results ever since. He concentrates on personal injury law, accident claims,injury Claims and real estate law.

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