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Car Accident Damage Appraisal

After a car accident, victims may be entitled to file an insurance claim to recoup expenses for injuries and property damages. Knowing how much to ask for in a damage claim depends on the appraisal amount of the property which was damaged. There are several factors to keep in mind when seeking an appraisal of car accident property.  

Property damage payments differ from medical bill payments or pain and suffering payments. Insurance claims adjusters can also disagree with an auto body shops estimate of property damage, refuse payment or refuse payment of the vehicles residual depreciation and other costs. It is imperative to fully understand the appraisal process and the role the auto accident attorney plays within it.

Property damage appraisers use an assortment of means to assess the value of property damaged in a car accident. Most often property assessors are concerned with the appraisal of auto damage but it can also pertain to fences, mailboxes, cattle and other damaged property.

Appraisal of damaged property begins with photographic evidence. Usually, the victim or sometimes, the insurance adjuster, will photograph the damages to the vehicle and send them via email, snail mail or smartphone app, to the insurance company. From there the property is sent to a company approved by the insurance company for an assessment of the damages and estimate of cost to repair them. The insurance company must approve the companies claim before work can begin. Once approved and repairs made, the insurance company pays the bill.

Sadly, it does not work as in this stream-lined example. Often, the insurance adjuster will not agree with, and will engage in some squabble over, the estimate provided by the repair company. Another factor pertains to the value of an undamaged vehicle of the same type. A vehicle that has been wrecked will never be of the same value, no matter how good the repairs, as one of similar make and model that has never been wrecked. This factor is expected to be included in the payment but rarely is unless the victim specifically asks for it. Adjusters will also offer to pay book value of the car as opposed to the payoff which could be significantly more. Unsuspecting victims have no idea. Taking out gap coverage on a vehicle will circumvent this problem. If a vehicle is totaled in an accident, gap coverage pays out the monetary difference in the payoff amount and the value of the car.

Payments for property damage are completely different and separate from payments for other parts of the accident such as medical bills and pain and suffering.

A big part of property assessment in a car accident is the evidence gathered at the scene. Photos and witness statements are important. Gather witness personal information as soon as possible, if not from the scene, from police reports. Keep all the documents related to the accident in a safe place. The help of a car accident attorney can only help at this point.