What should you do when your car was damaged in a car accident in Georgia and it was the other driver’s fault? Let’s assume that the officer cited the other driver and your car is driveable. What should you do? Everyone knows that you exchange information at the scene. What next?
You should contact the other driver’s company that day and you should contact your own insurance company and provide them with notice of the accident. If the other insurance carrier is not a fly by night operation, they will schedule an appointment for either an adjuster to come out of a location for you to take your vehicle to for a damage appraisal. You should take photos of the damage before you leave your vehicle with anyone. When I am hired as an Atlanta personal injury lawyer, I take great pains to lock down the photographic evidence from the police officer’s dashboard camera, satellite photos and other evidence to assist with arguing liability. However, unless you take pictures of your own vehicle, you will be at a serious disadvantage if you try to handle the property damage on your own.
If you took it to a shop, you will get an estimate on cost and time to repair from the shop. The other carrier should provide you with a rental car for the duration of the rental. If the other insurance carrier is being a jerk about these things and you have collision coverage, you have the option of turning it over to your own company.
If you do have your car insurance pay for the damage, you will be out the deductible. If the other person’s carrier is a large company, they are probably a signor to the Intercompany Arbitration Agreement which is a forum where the insurers argue over who caused disputed wrecks. They will try to get your deductible back but there are no guarantees and it can take a while. Use your own coverage if the other company is dragging their feet and you cannot afford to wait. Otherwise, file the claim with the other company.
Be careful to look at the estimate and ask if OEM parts are being used.
Now lets assume that your car was damaged to the point that it cannot be driven. Understand that the other company may not make up their mind on responsibility for a few days. Be prepared to have to catch rides or get your own rental in the interim. Be firm but polite in your efforts to get them to make up their minds.
If they decide to total it out, you will only have the rental until the time you get the settlement check. After that, it is incumbent upon you to replace the vehicle. If you want them to total it and they want to fix it, there is little you can do. What I have done for clients in the past is advise them on filing a magistrate court suit seeking the repair costs and combining that with the Georgia diminshed value claim. This will sometimes force their hand.