First of all, if you have been in any traffic accident, you should make sure that you or the people in your vehicle are not injured. If injury occurs, you should seek immediate medical attention. If anyone in the vehicle is injured, it would be best for you to immediately consult a Houston Accident Attorney to assess the concrete situation and your rights under the relevant law.
However, injury or not, the following 12 suggestions will be of great benefit to you as you deal with your vehicle damage and deal with the stress caused by a traffic accident.
1. You Should Know The Texas Time Limit Which Determines In Which Timeframe You Can Claim Your Vehicle Damage.
You must ensure that you are legally “still in the game” and that you have not forfeited your right to seek compensation under Texas law. The statute of limitations for vehicle damage in Texas is two years from the date of the accident. What if the vehicle that caused the accident does not have compulsory traffic insurance or if the amount of damage to your vehicle exceeds the insurance limits of the other party? If your own insurance policy has a coverage that covers such situations, you can apply to your own insurance to be able to compensate your vehicle damage. In order for you to confirm whether you have this coverage in your vehicle insurance policies, I also give the English equivalent of this coverage: “uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage.” However,
The statute of limitations gets a little more complicated when you apply for your own insurance under “uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage” on your insurance policy: breach of contract is four years, bad faith is two years, and Texas State Consumer Deceptive Trade Practices Act violations are subject to two-year statute of limitations. However, when these periods start to run varies from case to case. Therefore, it is best to contact a Texas Accident attorney so that you do not forfeit your rights.
2. Get Your Texas Traffic Accident Police Report.
When you are involved in a traffic accident, even if it is a minor accident, call 911 immediately and ask them to write a report about the accident after the police arrive at the scene. (“Peace Officer’s Crash Report – CR-3 Form). The preparation of the accident report by the police is important in many respects. Namely:
- It is important to prepare the accident report in order to record the occurrence of the traffic accident in question.
- When making a claim with the insurance company, you will need the information in the accident report—the other party’s insurance information, driver’s license number, full address, etc.
- If the police officer has also penalized the person who caused the accident, he/she shall state this fact and the factors that he thinks caused the accident in his report. Therefore, the report prepared by the police is data that the insurance company evaluates while conducting a liability investigation.
According to Texas Transportation Code Section 550.062, Texas police are required to file an Accident Report if an injury or death has occurred as a result of a traffic accident, or if damage to the vehicle is $1,000 or more. Texas police are also obliged to submit the accident report they have prepared electronically to the Texas Department of Transportation within ten days from the date of the accident. If the traffic accident in question did not cause injury or death, or the vehicle damage is less than $1,000, the Blue Form Crash Report (CR-2 Form) or Driver’s Crash Report, also called the Driver’s Crash Report, is still available. It will be to your advantage to fill it out. The preparation and keeping of this report by the driver is not a legal obligation. This report is only useful for the driver’s own records and does not need to be submitted to or registered with the Texas Department of Transportation as of September 1, 2017. It is very important for the drivers involved in the traffic accident to fill in the form called Driver Accident Report mentioned in the previous sentence and write all the details about the accident in this report, in case the police did not come or there is no need to keep a report, against the possibility of forgetting the information about the accident in time.
3. If your vehicle is not drivable, record where your vehicle was towed and stored. In order to prevent the daily storage fee for your vehicle from increasing day by day, bring your vehicle to a car service of your choice as soon as possible or have it brought to the relevant insurance company’s own warehouse.
The location of your vehicle is usually given to you by the driver of the towing vehicle and is also stated in the police report. It is important that this information is specific so that when making a claim with your own insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company, you can accurately convey the location of your vehicle to the relevant insurance company. The insurance company needs to know where your vehicle is so that it can send an authorized employee to make an assessment of the damage to your vehicle and have your vehicle towed to the service. Remember that under Texas Law, you have the right to choose which service to repair and replace your vehicle. If your vehicle is stored in a vehicle warehouse, the daily fee for the storage of your vehicle applies and the storage fee may increase very quickly. Even if the traffic accident occurred through the fault of the other party, under Texas law, you have an obligation to minimize your damages as a rightful owner. This means that you must take reasonable steps to reduce your losses and expenses and prevent them from getting worse. If you fail to minimize your losses and allow your vehicle to sit in storage for an unreasonable amount of time, the insurance company will not be responsible for paying the full storage fee. If the insurance company is still investigating to determine who is responsible for the accident, have the insurance company tow the vehicle to its storage facility so that no further storage charges are incurred. As a beneficiary under Texas law, you have an obligation to minimize your losses.
This means that you must take reasonable steps to reduce your losses and expenses and prevent them from getting worse. If you fail to minimize your losses and allow your vehicle to sit in storage for an unreasonable amount of time, the insurance company will not be responsible for paying the full storage fee. If the insurance company is still investigating to determine who is responsible for the accident, have the insurance company tow the vehicle to its storage facility so that no further storage charges are incurred. As a beneficiary under Texas law, you have an obligation to minimize your losses. This means that you must take reasonable steps to reduce your losses and expenses and prevent them from getting worse.
If you fail to minimize your losses and allow your vehicle to sit in storage for an unreasonable amount of time, the insurance company will not be responsible for paying the full storage fee. If the insurance company is still investigating to determine who is responsible for the accident, have the insurance company tow the vehicle to its storage facility so that no further storage charges are incurred. If you fail to minimize your losses and allow your vehicle to sit in storage for an unreasonable amount of time, the insurance company will not be responsible for paying the full storage fee. If the insurance company is still investigating to determine who is responsible for the accident, have the insurance company tow the vehicle to its storage facility so that no further storage charges are incurred. If you fail to minimize your losses and allow your vehicle to sit in storage for an unreasonable amount of time, the insurance company will not be responsible for paying the full storage fee. If the insurance company is still investigating to determine who is responsible for the accident, have the insurance company tow the vehicle to its storage facility so that no further storage charges are incurred.
4. If you are not at fault in the accident, file your claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
If you haven’t hired a Texas accident attorney, when speaking to the insurance agent who filed your claim, make sure you stick to the way the accident happened and are consistent with what you tell the police investigating and reporting your accident. When the insurance company receives the police report later, they will know if there is any inconsistency between what you told the police and what you told them when you were making your claim.
Speak concisely, be honest and consistent, and try not to be emotional. You will often provide the insurance agent with basic information such as your name, address, date of birth, vehicle details, where your car was stored, and the place and time of the accident. They will also ask if you were injured as a result of the accident. If you have been injured in an accident, before talking to the insurance company about your injury, It would be best to talk to a Texas accident attorney and seek advice. Because most people do not know how to properly approach such questions asked by the insurance company.
The insurance representative will then give you the claim number you have filed and the contact details of the insurance employee assigned to your claim, or the number of the department dealing with vehicle damage claims and/or pert vehicle claims.
5. If the accident was not your fault or it was a hit-and-run and the other driver does not have insurance, file a claim for uninsured motorist property damage with your own insurance company.
If the other driver is responsible for the accident but does not have car insurance, you can file a claim with your own insurance company to have your vehicle repaired or replaced. However, you must have purchased uninsured / underinsured driver’s cover for property damage. (“uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage for property damage”). To find out if you have such coverage, you can check your insurance coverage through your insurance company’s smartphone app and on their website, or call your insurance company and ask if you have such coverage. Texas Insurance Code Section 1952.101 All vehicle insurance policies must include uninsured / underinsured driver coverage for both property damage and bodily injury, unless the insurer refuses in writing. Therefore, if you declined this coverage, the insurance company should have sent you a waiver to sign, and they must keep that waiver on their file to prove that you have waived this coverage.
If the insurance company is unable to provide the signed waiver when requested, the Texas Supreme Court in Allstate v. huntIn his case, he ruled that coverage for an uninsured/underinsured driver would be valid within state minimum limits. These minimum limits are $30,000 per person for bodily injury / $60,000 per accident and $25,000 for property damage. In order to use this coverage , there is an exemption fee of $250 under Texas Insurance Code Section 1952.105 . If you have such coverage and you make a claim with your own insurance company, it is your insurance company’s responsibility to determine whether the party responsible for the accident has insurance. ( Texas Insurance Code Section 1952.109). Your insurance company will do a search to find the responsible party’s insurance.
Therefore, if the other party does not have insurance or does not have sufficient insurance to compensate you for your vehicle damage losses, you are covered by your own insurance policy for uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage for property damage. If your insurance company finds the responsible party’s insurance, you can file a claim with the insurance company of the person who caused the accident.
Most of the time, Texas accident victims are worried about using this coverage with their own insurance because they don’t want their premiums to increase. However, there are three good reasons to show that this approach is not quite right, that concerns are unfounded:
- First of all, you are wasting your money if you do not already intend to use the uninsured / underinsured driver coverage (“uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage”) that you purchased by paying a higher premium. This guarantee is not required under Texas law. So why pay a higher premium to purchase non-essential coverage and never use it?
- Your insurance company is unlikely to increase your premiums if you have made a single claim for an accident that was not your fault.
- Your insurance company cannot refuse to renew your policy for any accident or claim that is not your fault if you have been involved in two or more accidents within a one-year period and you have not filed a claim.
6. If the accident occurred as a result of your fault and you want to have your vehicle repaired, you can make a claim with your own insurance company.
If you have “collison” coverage, you can make a claim against your own insurance. The coverage we call “Collision” is an additional type of coverage that covers damage to your own vehicle due to a collision with another vehicle or object. When you use your “Collision” coverage, you have to pay an amount ranging from $500 to $1,000 from your own pocket, depending on the “deductible” amount you choose when purchasing your car insurance policy.
7. Rental car: You can rent a car through your own insurance company or the insurance company of the responsible party.
Depending on the stage at which the party causing the accident is in the insurance company’s liability determination process, you are entitled to a rental car until the insurance company offers you a quote about your vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired or your vehicle is being inspected for permeability. If you’re pretty sure that the damage to your vehicle is sufficient to take your vehicle out, start shopping for a new vehicle right away.
If your car has been removed, you can ask the insurance company to extend your rental car period for 2-3 days after you are quoted on the value of your car. If you are waiting for the insurance company of the party that caused the accident to investigate liability, you can rent a car by paying out of your own pocket, and after the other party’s insurance determines that their driver is at fault, you can request a refund from the insurance company by submitting your car rental receipts. Or, if you have a rental car coverage under your policy, you can use this coverage by applying to your own insurance company. If you are not sure whether you have rental car coverage, confirm this by calling your insurance company.
8. You may be entitled to “Loss of Use” even if your vehicle has the curtain removed.
As long as you do not have a vehicle and you are not given a rental car, you may be entitled to what is called “loss of use”. The insurance company will pay you the reasonable rental price for a vehicle of the same or similar size as your car. Reasonable rent is between $20.00 and $30.00 per day, until your vehicle is repaired or, if your vehicle is dead, you are quoted. Texas Supreme Court, J&D Towing, LLC v. American Alternative Insurance Corporationin his case, the owner of the vehicle whose vehicle is pert has the right to indemnify the damages related to the loss of use and to compensate the market value of the vehicle at the date of the accident. This means that you can get paid not only for the market value of your vehicle at the time of the accident, but also for the duration of your car-free stay, from the party that caused the accident or from that party’s insurance company. However, this time is limited. According to J & D Towing , the court ruled that reimbursement for “loss of use” could not be for an unreasonably long period. In other words, as the rightful owner, you have an obligation to minimize your losses. In particular, you do not have the right to claim loss of use beyond the reasonable time required until you buy a new vehicle.
9. If your vehicle has been damaged and repaired, you may be entitled to a “Vehicle Depreciation”.
If your vehicle has been damaged as a result of an accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to loss of value due to the damaged vehicle, even if it was repaired perfectly. There is uncertainty not only as to whether repairs have been made correctly, but also whether it is still safe to drive even if it has been repaired, and whether the vehicle has been repaired with original equipment manufacturer parts. These uncertainties undoubtedly affect the market value of the repaired vehicle. To file a claim with the insurance company for vehicle depreciation, you must provide evidence that there is a difference between the vehicle’s pre-accident and post-accident market value. Other factors that will strengthen your claim for vehicle depreciation are as follows:
- A total of at least $1,500 in repairs to your vehicle
- If your vehicle has not been in an accident before or does not have a scrap registration certificate (“salvage title”) (If the vehicle is above the market value before the accident date, including the repair of the vehicle, parts and labor costs, this vehicle is considered as a scrap vehicle).
- Your vehicle is not on high mileage
Obtaining a vehicle depreciation valuation report from an auto appraiser and submitting it to the insurance company will strengthen your Texas vehicle depreciation claim. These reports cost around $500. If your claim about the depreciation of your vehicle is higher than the cost of the report, it is worth getting the valuation report in question. Also, if you are leasing your vehicle, you should contact the company you rented your vehicle from before making a claim regarding the depreciation of the vehicle. You may need the written permission of the rental company to file a claim for loss of value for the vehicle you rented. The attitude of the car rental companies regarding the loss of value may differ.
10. If your car is pert and the insurance company refuses to pay off your car loan, you may have some options:
- Option 1: GAP Insurance – GAP insurance covers the difference between the cash value of your vehicle at the date of the accident and the car loan you owe as of the date of the accident or the total amount of car rental remaining if you are renting your vehicle. Often, when you buy or lease a vehicle, the bank requires you to take out GAP insurance to protect its interests in case the vehicle fails later. You can find out if you have GAP insurance by calling your insurance company or the bank from which you took the car loan. If you have GAP insurance, if your vehicle is dead, if the balance you have to pay is more than the cash value of the vehicle on the date of the accident, you are covered.
- Option 2: You can add the negative net asset to the new car loan – If your remaining car loan is more than the value of your car, you can add this negative value to the loan of the new car you bought. This will, of course, depend on your credit history and whether you can afford the higher payments. Banks usually require you to have GAP insurance in order to add the negative net asset of your Pert car loan to the loan amount you have taken for the vehicle you have just purchased.
- Option 3 – Make a claim with your own insurance under your collision coverage – If the party’s insurance gave you a low bid for your vehicle, you may have a chance to get a higher offer from your own insurance company within the scope of your collision coverage. When you choose to use your own “collision” coverage and pay the exemption fee required within the scope of your coverage, your insurance company may collect this exemption fee from the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident.
- Option 4: Negotiate – See tip 11 (hint) below.
11. Negotiate with the insurance company the offer of the insurance company regarding your pert car.
Insurance companies’ initial offer for your pert car isn’t usually their best or final offer, even if they tell you it’s non-negotiable. Provide them with a list of similar vehicles where you live, that is, vehicles that are the same year, make and model as yours, have similar options, and are, on average, the same mileage as yours. You can find these similar tools on websites like Kelly Blue Book , Autotrader , or Car Gurus . You can even obtain a written report of your vehicle’s fair market value from an authorized dealer. You can also obtain an appraisal report from an auto expert, if it makes sense in the case.
12. Do not accept the insurance company’s offer regarding your vehicle damage, if your injury claim is still open, the insurance company’s release to you, and the check containing the payment for the vehicle damage without the Texas accident attorney reviewing it.
It is likely that the release or the check containing the payment for vehicle damage will contain a “wide-ranging” statement that you have released the person who caused the accident and the insurance company of this person from all responsibilities including your treatment expenses, loss of salary/income, moral compensation and all other damages.
Also, be careful when discussing your claim with the insurance professional on the phone. Verbal releases to a car insurance professional in Texas are binding. Dallas Court of Appeals, Windell Gilbert v. In the case of Cherish Fitz , Texas ruled that the survivor would be bound by the insurance company’s verbal offer of payment of $500 and medical bills resulting from the accident. Therefore, when you are involved in a car accident, be sure to consult a Texas accident attorney first to make sure you protect your rights.