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Car Wrecks And Car Repairs: What Are Your Rights?

When you are in a car wreck, sometimes the most pressing issue is your personal injuries. Other times after car wrecks, the priority is on your car repair issues. When you are in a car wreck you need your car to be fixed or replaced. You need a car to drive while you are waiting on your car to be repaired. Because you need to be aware of your car repair rights, this article will attempt to answer a few of these questions. 

Car Wrecks: Who Pays For Car Repairs?

Generally, whoever caused the car wreck is responsible for the damages. If you are insured, your insurance company assumes this responsibility. These damages include damages to property, like an automobile, as well as the costs associated with pending repairs such as towing or storage. North Carolina law currently requires motorists to carry at least $25,000 in coverage for property damage liability. The at-fault driver (and his insurance company) must pay for the cost of repairs or the actual cash value of the car if the car is determined to be a total loss. Property liability coverage is separate from collision coverage. Collision insurance covers damages to your car regardless of who is at fault. You are responsible for carrying your own collision insurance, but it is not mandatory in North Carolina. Collision insurance may be required, however, by the terms of a car loan.

Car wrecks

The Insurance Company's Preferred Body Shop

You are not required to us an insurance company's preferred body shop. In an effort to save costs, some auto insurance companies partner with body shops to repair vehicles following an accident. They do so often because the preferred body shop has agreed to perform the car repairs at a lower rate. According to Edmunds, this relationship can lead the preferred body shop to cut corners. The body shop cuts corners in order to maintain its profit margins. In North Carolina, persons involved in car wrecks have the right to choose their own body shop. You should request references from friends and relatives and select a body shop with an established and honest reputation in their community.

Aftermarket Parts In Car Repairs

An After Market Part (AMP) is any part that is not sourced from the vehicle's manufacturer. Original equipment manufactured parts (OEM), on the other hand, are sourced from the car manufacturer. These OEM partsshould match the car perfectly. For example, a new Honda Civic bumper placed on a Honda Civic is an OEM part. AMP tend to be far less expensive than OEM parts, but quality can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, whereas OEM parts should be more consistent. According to Edmunds Parts Comparisons, approximately 80% of body shops use after market parts.

In North Carolina, an insurance company cannot require persons involved in a car wrecks to use after market parts. However, if an older car has depreciated in value, the value of replacing the parts with OEM parts may not make economic sense. In those situations, where the car's value is not diminished by the use of non OEM parts, after market parts may be more appropriate. If you insist on OEM parts, you may be required to pay the difference in price.

Car Wrecks And Diminished Value

North Carolina law sometimes allows for diminished value. In some situations after a car wreck, your car may have a lesser value. In North Carolina, a seller of a vst that is five years old or less and that has sustained at least 25% of its value in damage must disclose the damage to potential buyers. (North Carolina Diminished Value Law). Further, with on-line research tools like Carfax , buyers can easily discover a vehicle's accident history. These disclosures would obviously affect the vehicle's value.

North Carolina law requires that the owner be compensated for this loss in value. "It is a well settled rule with us, and in other jurisdictions, that the measure of damage for injury to personal property is the difference between the market value of the property immediately before the injury and the market value immediately after the injury." Smith v. White, 712 S.E.2d 717 (2011) You should obtain opinions from qualified persons (car dealers) regarding the car's post-wreck value and pre-wreck value.

Totaled Cars

If car repairs will be more than 75% of the car's value, the car must be declared totaled. A car with this much damage must be retitled as a salvage, or total loss, vehicle. (NCGS 20-71.3). If the car is totaled, the insurance company is responsible for the actual cash value of the car. The actual cash value is the amount for which it could be sold. The NC Department of Insurance recognizes two methods for determining value. First, a comparable car may be found in the local market. If a car cannot be found, the valuations of two auto dealers in the area used. Unofficially, online tools such as Edmund, Consumer Reports, and Kelly Blue Book are helpful. If you wish to keep your salvaged wrecked car, you can do so. If the insurance company has paid you for the salvage value, you must return this amount.

Actual Car Value Less Than Car Loan

The insurance company only has to pay the actual car value, not the debt amount on the car. If you are in a car wreck and owe more on your car than the total value, you may owe money to the lender. However, some auto insurance policies include gap insurance coverage. If you purchased gap insurance, the difference between value and debt would be covered by your own insurance company.

Car Rental After A Car Wreck

North Carolina courts have held that the at-fault driver (and their insurance company) are responsible for car rental costs. This car rental must be for a similar vehicle during your car repair. If the car involved in the car wreck cannot be repaired, the at-fault driver is responsible for your costs while you find a replacement car. Gillespie v. Draughn, 283 S.E.2d 548 (1981)

Filing With My Insurance Company

Sometimes, it may take time for the at fault driver's insurance company to investigate a car accident and determine liability. Sometimes, car insurance companies deliberately delay accepting a claim in order to frustrate the claimant or avoid paying a claim. The N.C. Insurance Commissioner regulations allow an insurance company 30 days to investigate the claim. During this time, you may have trouble getting to and from work and other places without the use of a car. In these situations, it may make sense for you to file the claim on your own collision insurance. You will have to pay the insurance deductible. Your insurance company will still pursue its own claim against the at-fault driver's insurance company. Often, in these cases, you will get the money for your deductible.

According to the N.C. Department of Insurance, your insurance company cannot charge points if you file a collision claim and you were not at fault. However, you should consult your insurance agent regarding how the claim could affect your policy and your coverage.

Insurance Company Refuses To Pay

Some auto insurance companies will refuse to pay all of the damages associated with a car wreck. For example, the insurance company may refuse to pay for a rental car, for the total costs of repairs, or for diminished value. Other times, the insurance company might deny that their insured driver was at fault. In these situations, a complaint to the N.C. Department of Insurance may help. Claims filed under a collision provision are especially helped by filing with the N.C. Department of Insurance. However, if the issue cannot be resolved, the matter may need to be handled in court. You should consult with an attorney if the N.C. Department of Insurance is not of assistance.

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