What Happens to My Vehicle After an Auto Accident?

If you are in a car accident in Seattle, you may wonder how you will receive repairs for your vehicle. Whether your vehicle was damaged beyond repair or you suffered a minor fender bender and you can still drive around, the insurance company will take certain steps to evaluate your vehicle’s damage and determine a place for you to receive repairs.

Washington State Car Insurance Requirements

The state of Washington follows a fault system when it comes to determining financial responsibility for vehicle damage following a car accident. The person who was at fault for the car accident is the one who is responsible for paying for any damages. The money for this compensation will come from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. When you suffer injuries in a car accident, your Seattle personal injury attorney can file a claim with your insurance company or directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

All drivers in the state of Washington must carry the following amounts of coverage.

  • $10,000 for damages to any person’s property in an accident caused by the policyholder
  • $50,000 for total injuries or death to all people in an accident caused by the policyholder
  • $25,000 for injuries or death per person in an accident caused by the policyholder

Consideration of Your Car’s Drivability

The first decision the insurance company will make after an accident is whether you can still drive your car. If the damages are not enough to impact your ability to operate the vehicle, you will have to contact the insurance company and request an estimate for the repair costs. The insurance adjuster may schedule an appointment to inspect your vehicle or bring your car in for evaluation. You will receive a cost estimate from the insurer, after which you should bring your vehicle to a repair shop for a second opinion. You may have to visit multiple repair shops to find the lowest repair estimate.

If you cannot drive your car due to the damage, you may have to have your car towed to a repair shop or salvage yard. The insurance adjuster will evaluate the damage. He or she will estimate the total damages and issue you a check for repair. You will take your vehicle to a body shop of your choice for these repairs.

What Happens if the Accident Totaled Your Car?

Sometimes, the damage can be so severe that it would cost less to replace your vehicle than to repair it. The insurance company will evaluate your car’s damages and calculate the potential cost of repair. If the cost of repair exceeds the cost of your car’s fair market value, they will declare your vehicle a total loss. At this time, your insurance company will give you two options.

  • You can accept payment for the total loss value of your car minus the value of its parts, known as the salvage value. In this situation, you get to keep your vehicle and you can sell the vehicle to a scrapyard, after which you receive the salvage value.
  • You can accept payment for the total loss of your car plus the salvage value. You will have to sign your car’s title over to the insurance company and you will give up the rights to your vehicle.

If you are unsure of what to do with your vehicle after your car accident, contact a Seattle car accident attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can evaluate whether your insurance company is offering an appropriate settlement and negotiate for a higher payment if necessary. In addition, your attorney can advise you on the best path to take for your vehicle repair or replacement. Contact Washington Injury Law today for a free consultation.