Category Archives: car accidents

California Comparative Fault Laws

Friday, May 24, 2019

Rodriguez Law Car Accident Attorneys

Most states abide by either comparative fault or contributory negligence laws when it comes to recovery for car accidents. Comparative fault is the norm, with only a handful of states still using contributory negligence laws. California uses a pure comparative fault rule. After an auto accident, the courts may assign a portion of fault to both parties. Even if a plaintiff has some fault, he or she may still recover at least partial compensation under state law.

Comparative Fault vs. Contributory Negligence

States with comparative fault laws allow an at-fault plaintiff to recover partial damages, while those with contributory negligence laws bar a plaintiff from recovery entirely for even 1% fault. Most states have done away with outdated contributory negligence laws for being unfair to accident victims.

Some states use a combination of both types of negligence laws. In Michigan, for example, the courts will only reduce economic damages if a plaintiff is 51% or more at fault, but will bar recovery for noneconomic damages altogether. California is a comparative fault state. After a car accident, both parties may share fault for the crash, and a plaintiff may still recover compensation even with a percentage of fault.

California’s Pure Comparative Fault Rule

States with comparative fault laws follow either pure or modified rules. In pure comparative fault states, like California, a plaintiff can have any degree of fault and still be eligible for some compensation. Even if the courts find the plaintiff 99% at fault for the car accident, said plaintiff could still recover 1% of a compensation award in a pure comparative fault state. In a modified comparative fault state, however, the courts will limit a plaintiff’s ability to recover past a certain percentage of fault.

Modified comparative negligence states often cap a plaintiff’s allowable fault at 49%, 50%, or 51%. If the courts find the plaintiff more than the allowed amount at fault for a car accident, the plaintiff will lose any right to compensation. In all comparative negligence states, the courts will assign compensation according to the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. If a plaintiff were 25% responsible, for example, the plaintiff would recover $75,000 of a $100,000 award ($100,000-[$100,000 x 0.25 = $25,000] = $75,000).

Obtaining the greatest possible compensation award in a pure comparative fault state takes hiring a car accident attorney. Your attorney will work to minimize your percentage of fault to ensure the greatest possible financial recovery. Keeping your degree of fault as close to 0% as possible will lead to the ability to take home more of a settlement or jury verdict award. The courts will only order a defendant to pay for an amount equal to his or her percentage of fault. Fighting to increase the defendant’s degree of fault will result in higher compensation for the plaintiff.

Filing a Claim Against the At-Fault Party

California is also a fault-based insurance state. During the car insurance claim process, involved drivers will seek reimbursement from the at-fault party’s car insurer. In no-fault states, on the other hand, all parties will call their own insurance companies, regardless of fault. To start the insurance claim process after a crash in California, you must identify the at-fault driver. Then, you will call that party’s insurance company to file a claim.

Be careful what you say to another person’s insurance provider. The insurance claims adjuster’s job will be to get you to settle your case for as little as possible. Be truthful with the adjuster, but do not offer more information than is necessary. If you do not feel comfortable negotiating with an adjuster on your own, contact an attorney to handle settlement communications for you. A lawyer will protect your rights and best interests during the car accident claim process.

Posted by highrank at 11:31 pm

What Happens if You Hit a Car that is Illegally Parked?

Friday, May 10, 2019

Many car accident cases are not black and white. It is not always easy to identify who was at fault or what caused the accident. In some cases, both drivers could share fault for the auto collision. In others, one party may be solely at fault. If you strike a vehicle that someone illegally parked in California, you could both share fault – you for hitting the car and the other driver for parking illegally. This does not, however, mean you automatically forfeit the right to file a claim or seek compensation.

Driver Duties of Care

All drivers have the duty to act in a way that upholds general duties of care to other drivers. It is negligent to fail to exercise a reasonable degree of care. Texting and driving, speeding, drunk driving, and parking illegally are examples of driver negligence. Breaking any roadway rule is also negligence. If a person parks illegally, it means the driver failed to follow regulations and traffic laws. Thus, the parker negligently put his or her vehicle in danger. The driver will therefore at least share some of the fault if someone else strikes the illegally parked vehicle.

The other driver, however, also has certain duties – including a duty to drive diligently to avoid collisions. The driver must pay attention to the road, drive at a reasonable speed, and prepare to stop unexpectedly. Hitting a parked car, even if someone illegally parked it, is negligence if a reasonable and prudent driver would have avoided the collision. Thus, if someone hits a car that is illegally parked, both parties could share fault for the damages.

Comparative Fault Laws in California

California is a pure comparative fault state. Both parties may share fault for an auto accident, and the plaintiff could still recover compensation. Under the state’s pure comparative fault laws, if the courts find the plaintiff partially at fault for an accident – such as for striking the parked car – they will reduce the plaintiff’s recovery award by his or her percentage of fault. For example, if the courts assign 90% of fault to the defendant for illegally parking, but 10% to the plaintiff for negligently striking the parked car, the plaintiff would receive $90,000 of a $100,000 award.

In a modified comparative negligence state, the courts will cap the plaintiff’s ability to earn at a certain percentage of fault (usually between 49% and 51%). In California and other pure comparative fault states, however, no fault cap exists. A plaintiff could be 99% at fault for an accident and still recover 1% compensation. Navigating the state’s pure comparative fault laws may take help from an attorney. A car accident lawyer can work to minimize your degree of fault to maximize your compensation award.

Optimizing your financial recovery after hitting an illegally parked car takes proving that the defendant was more at fault than you were for the collision. An attorney can revisit the scene of the collision, take photographs, and help gather evidence of the other driver’s fault. Then, the attorney can present the case before a judge or jury on your behalf. A convincing argument from an attorney could be what you need to minimize your own fault and obtain greater compensation from the other driver.

Recovering After Striking an Illegally Parked Car

If you hit an illegally parked car in California, remain on the scene and do your best to notify the owner of the vehicle. If you cannot wait on the scene for the owner to return, the law requires you to leave a note in an obvious place on the vehicle with your full name and contact information. You and the other driver will exchange insurance information.

Then, you will call the other driver’s insurance company and he/she will call yours. The insurance companies will conduct their own investigations and may offer settlements according to the stipulations of each policy. If settlement negotiations do not work, hire an attorney to help you take your claim to court.

Posted by highrank at 11:22 pm

California Collision Repair Laws and Regulations

Friday, May 3, 2019

After an auto collision, one of the main goals for victims is to repair the damage to their vehicles. In California, collision repair laws and regulations determine how and when a vehicle owner can get auto repairs. As a California car accident victim, you must comply with regulations through your insurance company and state laws to receive repairs as well as reimbursement for the costs. Here is a breakdown of some of the most important related laws.

Mandatory Repair Estimates

Most states require auto mechanics to provide consumers with a price estimate before beginning any work. Some repair shops charge a fee to provide an estimate, but if so, they must notify customers about these fees. Receiving an estimate beforehand can allow the consumer the choice to go to a different shop for a better price. Many states also require that the final cost of the repairs do not exceed a certain percentage over the original estimate. This helps to prevent any major cost surprises.

Unauthorized Repairs

As a consumer, you have the legal right to approve or deny proposed mechanic services on your vehicle. If the auto shop calls and sends you an estimate and you tell them not to proceed with the repairs, the shop must comply with your wishes. Should the shop proceed to make the repairs and then demand payment, you do not have to pay for the unauthorized repairs – as long as the repairs rendered were not vital to another repair you ordered. If the mechanic refuses to release your vehicle, you may be able to file a lawsuit against him or her.

Mechanic’s Lien

If a vehicle owner refuses to pay for repairs already rendered, the auto shop has the legal right to keep the car. The shop owner could take out a mechanic’s lien against the owner of the car. A mechanic’s lien states that the shop owner will be the legal owner of the vehicle if the original owner fails to pay what he or she owes the owner. A lien is any legal claim against property that someone else has serviced or improved. A mechanic will have the right to keep and sell a vehicle with a lien, even if the car is a $35,000 luxury vehicle and the owner only owes $50 in repairs.

Consumer Protections From Unfair Practices

All consumers, including vehicle owners, have the right to fair business dealings in the U.S. It is against the law for an auto shop to engage in unfair or deceptive acts and practices. This includes deceptive automobile sales and the intentional selling of lemons (defective vehicles). Repair shops legally have to disclose certain information to customers, including details of a price estimate and whether replacement parts were new or used. Some federal laws also require same-day repairs on simple jobs, as well as cost-free corrections if the mechanic performs low-quality work.

California-Specific Laws

California’s automotive repair laws require a written price estimate for any repair work, a detailed invoice including a breakdown of all work done and parts used, and a return of replaced parts, if the consumer requests it at the time of placing the order. If the actual repairs will cost more than the estimate, someone from the shop must contact you, describe the situation, and get your permission before proceeding.

If you are unhappy with the quality of work, you have the right to demand better repairs by speaking directly to the repair shop. Remain calm and courteous, and explain your problem in detail. If you are willing to negotiate, do so on your own. Otherwise, if the shop cannot resolve the issue in accordance with your rights under the Automotive Repair Act, you may have the right to file an official complaint with the Bureau of Automotive repair. A lawyer can help you with your complaint and a subsequent lawsuit, if applicable.

Posted by highrank at 11:14 pm

What to Do When Someone Hits Your Parked Car

Thursday, April 25, 2019

when another car hits your parked car

Many low-speed, low-value auto accidents happen in parking lots and garages, and any parked vehicle on the street is potentially susceptible to damage from passing negligent motorists. If another driver hits your parked car, you should know what to expect from the situation. In the event you happen to be in or around your parked car when another driver hits it, you should have the opportunity to take down the at-fault driver’s contact information and insurance details so you can file a claim.

Unfortunately, Allstate Insurance reports that about 70% of all hit-and-run accidents involve parked vehicles, so the owner of a parked vehicle that sustains damage from a hit-and-run may not know what to do about recovery.

When You Witness the Accident

If you happen to be in the area and see the accident with your parked car, or if the at-fault driver takes responsibility and waits for you at your car after the collision, follow the same procedure you would with any other car accident. Take the at-fault driver’s contact information and insurance details, try to take photos of the damage to your vehicle and the surrounding area, and make sure your vehicle is fit to drive before leaving the scene. You should also contact the police so there is a record of the incident, but only if the accident resulted in damage beyond a minor ding or dented bumper. Most states require drivers to report any accident that results in injury, death, or significant property damage.

After obtaining the necessary information from the accident scene, file a claim according to your state’s laws for car accidents. In a fault-based state, an injured driver files a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, and the insurance carrier pays for damages up to the coverage limits of the policy.

In a no-fault state, an injured driver’s first step toward recovery is to file a claim against his or her own auto insurance policy for personal injury protection coverage. The photos from the accident scene and the proof of the other driver’s liability will be invaluable to any insurance claim.

When the At-Fault Driver Leaves the Scene

When a driver hits a parked car, the legal and ethical thing to do is to remain at the scene until the owner of the parked vehicle arrives so the drivers can exchange information and document the incident. The responsible driver may opt to leave a note with his or her information on the damaged vehicle’s windshield, and this is acceptable in most situations.

However, some drivers may simply flee out of panic or to avoid liability. In these situations, it can be very difficult to track down the responsible driver. However, if the police locate the hit-and-run driver, he or she will face criminal charges from the state in addition to civil liability for your accident.

If you return to your vehicle to find another driver has hit it but failed to leave his or her insurance information, you should contact the police to report the hit-and-run. The police may have access to traffic cameras to help identify the responsible driver. If the accident occurred in a busy area near businesses, those establishments may have CCTV footage outside their stores that may help prove liability. It is vital to report the hit-and-run to the police as soon as possible so they can begin an investigation.

When it comes to recovery for a hit-and-run, you may need to rely on the police to identify and apprehend the at-fault driver to hold him or her responsible for your damages. Depending on the terms of your auto insurance coverage, your insurer may provide coverage in the interim. If you identify the at-fault driver, your insurer will likely seek reimbursement for coverage for the accident by negotiating with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier or taking legal action against the at-fault driver.


Posted by highrank at 11:09 pm

How Long Does Subrogation Take?

Monday, April 15, 2019

When a driver causes an accident with another driver resulting in injuries and other damages, the injured driver will likely file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. If the at-fault driver does not have auto insurance, the injured driver’s insurance policy may cover the damages. Insurance companies have the right to pursue damages from negligent drivers and they do so to limit the losses paid out on claims.

For example, an uninsured driver hits another driver and causes $30,000 in total damages. Since the at-fault driver does not have insurance, the injured driver must file a claim against his or her own policy. The insurance company pays out the claim to the injured driver in accordance with the policy’s terms, and then the insurance company starts the subrogation process against the at-fault driver. The time required to complete subrogation typically hinges on the complexity of the claim.

What to Expect From Subrogation

A basic subrogation process in a simple car accident usually involves an injured driver, an at-fault driver, and each driver’s insurance company. The injured driver’s insurance company will typically expect the at-fault driver’s insurance company to pay for the damages in the claim, but if the two insurers cannot reach a mutually agreeable settlement, they will typically resort to covering their own policyholders’ damages. Next, the injured driver’s insurer will likely sue the at-fault driver’s insurer or look for a mediator or arbitrator to settle the matter.

Simple claims for accidents like rear-end collisions or other accidents where fault is obvious may still take up to 30 days to settle. The at-fault driver’s insurance carrier will either pay for the injured driver’s damages directly or reimburse the injured driver’s insurance company if necessary. Complex claims, such as those involving multiple drivers, can take a year or more to complete depending on available evidence. Each insurer will want to minimize liability, and they may move to litigation if they cannot reach a mutually agreeable settlement.

Ultimately, the time required to complete subrogation usually hinges on the complexity of the accident case and clarity of fault for the accident. If the drivers involved in a claim disagree on fault, or a claim involves several drivers that may all share some fault for an accident, the subrogation process can take quite a long time to finish. However, most drivers will have at least some protection available from their insurers during this process, and subrogation could potentially lead to reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred during the subrogation process.

Benefits of Subrogation

The subrogation process may seem overly complex but in reality, this system is very beneficial to all drivers. Primarily, subrogation helps keep premium payments lower for insured drivers. Since auto insurance carriers can limit their liability through subrogation, there is less risk for the insurer when it comes to insuring a driver. Without the subrogation process, insurance carriers would likely raise premium rates to cover the cost of losses from third parties.

When a driver must file a claim against his or her own collision coverage during the subrogation process, the driver usually has a deductible he or she must pay out of pocket before his or her collision coverage applies. However, the injured driver’s insurer will seek reimbursement for the policyholder’s paid deductible during subrogation.

If you or a loved one recently had an accident and are unsure about how long the subrogation process will take in your case, a car accident attorney or a representative from your auto insurance carrier are likely the two best resources for more information about the subrogation process and how long it will take for a claim.

Posted by highrank at 10:55 pm

What is Personal Injury Protection?

Friday, April 5, 2019

Every state in the U.S. has unique laws for handling car accidents. Most states follow fault-based systems that require drivers to determine fault for accidents and file claims for coverage against at-fault drivers’ auto insurance policies. However, several states use no-fault systems, and personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage is the standard for auto insurance coverage in these states.

In the 12 states requiring PIP coverage, state laws determine how and when drivers may pursue legal claims for auto accidents. For example, a no-fault state may require drivers to use their own PIP to cover damages after an accident. However, if an at-fault driver caused a catastrophic injury or the incident otherwise meets the criteria for legal action under state law, the injured driver may file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Ultimately, states that uphold no-fault standards for car accidents do so to curb the number of lawsuits filed against at-fault drivers.

How Does PIP Work?

PIP coverage is an extension of auto insurance that can cover medical expenses and lost wages for the policyholder after an accident, and this type of coverage applies regardless of how the accident happened or who was at fault. In no-fault states, drivers must purchase and maintain auto insurance policies that include the state’s minimum PIP coverage. For example, one state may require $20,000 in minimum coverage while another may require $25,000 or $30,000. In most fault-based states, PIP is an optional form of coverage that may augment an auto liability policy.

Fault-based states usually require drivers to purchase auto insurance that includes bodily injury and death liability coverage for a single person in an accident caused by the policyholder, total accident liability coverage for a single accident caused by the policyholder, and property damage coverage. While a driver may legally drive with just a minimum policy, the coverage included in minimum auto insurance policies only covers damages the policyholder causes. If the policyholder sustains injuries and other losses, he or she may need additional coverage to pay for those expenses.

Purchasing Auto Insurance

Drivers with minimum coverage policies should strongly consider purchasing additional insurance coverage that allows for a decent buffer in the event of an accident. In fault-based states, this may mean adding comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, underinsured driver coverage, and/or PIP to a minimum policy. In no-fault states, PIP is mandatory, and each state determines how much a driver must carry and what types of medical treatment qualify for PIP coverage.

Every driver should strive to secure an acceptable amount of coverage with a reasonable monthly premium. More extensive coverage will lead to higher premiums, but offer a better buffer for an injured driver in the event of an accident. For example, if a negligent driver without insurance causes an accident in a fault-based state, the injured driver would file a claim against the negligent driver’s auto insurance policy. Since the at-fault driver is uninsured, the injured driver would need to file a claim against his or her own policy but may only do so in most cases if the driver purchased underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.

PIP may be optional in fault-based states, but every driver should consider the potential value of purchasing this type of coverage. PIP does not consider fault, so an injured driver can secure coverage for medical expenses and other losses after an accident no matter how the accident happened.

Additional coverage on an auto insurance policy can help a driver by providing peace of mind when an accident happens, but more expensive coverage will cost more in monthly premiums. Drivers should try to strike a healthy balance of coverage and affordability. While other drivers may face mounting economic pressure from an accident due to lack of coverage, a driver with PIP can use this coverage for immediate medical bills and other expenses while he or she determines his or her next steps.




Posted by highrank at 10:46 pm

What Is Actual Cash Value?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Imagine purchasing a new vehicle for $20,000 and then getting into an accident one year later. You prepare your insurance claim and expect coverage for the price you paid only for the insurer to respond with a much lower settlement offer than you anticipated. This may seem unfair, but the reality is that most standard auto insurance policies only cover a vehicle’s current market value at the time of an accident to determine settlement amounts. The “actual cash value,” or market price of a vehicle, can lead to a significantly lower insurance payout than a driver expects. To learn more, speak with an experienced Bakersfield car accident attorney.

How to Determine the Actual Cash Value of Your Vehicle

Most vehicle owners know that a brand new vehicle starts losing its value as soon as it leaves the dealership or seller lot. The Insurance Information Institute reports that the average vehicle loses about 20% of the initial sale value within the first year of ownership. To determine the value of a vehicle, analysts will look at other cars of the same make and model in the area and estimate the average price. Different factors like damage, age, options, and even the vehicle’s color may alter the value. One of the most common valuation systems used by car buyers and sellers is the Kelley Blue Book.

If a driver files an insurance claim and receives a much lower settlement offer than expected, the insurance claims adjuster will likely mention the “actual cash value” of the vehicle. The driver should be sure to ask how the adjuster arrived at the reported actual cash value. It’s also possible to do independent research to confirm the actual cash value as reported by an adjuster. The adjuster may have forgotten to add the value of special options or safety features your vehicle has that most others of the same make and model do not.

Possible Problems with Actual Cash Value

Since most vehicles lose value very quickly after purchase, the “actual cash value” of a vehicle can pose problems after an accident. If the car owner only made a small down payment, financed the vehicle over a period longer than 60 months, or purchased a vehicle that depreciates faster than average, an accident could leave the car owner with a remainder between what he or she still owes on the vehicle and the amount insurance covers.

Many car sellers, dealerships, and private auto insurance carriers offer Guaranteed Auto Protection (Gap) insurance that covers the “gap” between what a driver owes on a vehicle and the actual cash value of the vehicle at the time of the accident. Leasing a vehicle almost always requires gap insurance; this is mostly because the driver doesn’t actually own a leased vehicle and the leasing company will want some guarantee of the vehicle’s value for the duration of the lease.

In the event that the replacement cost of a damaged vehicle exceeds the actual cash value of the vehicle, the damaged vehicle is considered a total loss — or “totaled.” An auto insurance policy generally includes a disclaimer concerning a totaled vehicle and will stipulate how the insurance company will handle a total loss claim. Some insurers will cover the average price of an equivalent vehicle based on current market values while others may even guarantee to replace a totaled vehicle with a version that is one model year newer.

Drivers should carefully read policy terms before agreeing to a policy. If there are discrepancies concerning the actual cash value of a vehicle involved in an insurance claim, the driver can consult an attorney about the terms of his or her auto insurance policy and how to approach the claims process.

Posted by highrank at 10:47 pm

Safe Driving Tips for Seniors

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Senior drivers may have more experience on the road than younger drivers but they are more likely to have medical issues that may interfere with driving ability. It’s crucial for all seniors to keep careful track of their medical conditions and speak with their doctors about any concerns as soon as they arise. If a senior relies on driving every day, it’s important to keep close tabs on any changes in vision, reaction time, memory, coordination, or other physiological issues that may impact driving ability.

Keep Track of Physical Changes

Many older adults suffer from arthritis and other types of muscle and joint pains. These issues may make it difficult to operate a vehicle’s controls, especially during an emergency situation where the driver needs to shift, brake, or swerve to avoid a collision. Muscle and joint pain can potentially make it difficult to safety check rear-view mirrors and blind spots before turns and lane changes.

Stress and fatigue can also pose more risk to older drivers than younger ones. Stress can aggravate other medical conditions in senior drivers and make driving more difficult. Depending on how long the driver will remain behind the wheel, fatigue can also pose a major problem and significantly increase the risk of an accident. Senior drivers should plan carefully before making any long trips.

Be Careful with Medications

Many senior drivers take prescription medications for at least one medical issue. Some medicines can impact driving ability, so it’s crucial for older drivers to keep close track of the potential side effects of their medications, when they take doses, and how long doses last. Medication can cause problems if a senior driver stays behind the wheel too long without access to a necessary medication, misses a dose, accidentally double-doses, or takes medications that cause adverse side effects right before driving.

Schedule Regular Hearing and Vision Tests

Our sensory faculties are often the first bodily systems to experience deterioration from aging. Hearing and vision are very important for drivers to avoid accidents, and some states have even adopted laws mandating hearing and vision checks for drivers over certain ages. These drivers will need to undergo the required screenings before they can complete a driver’s license renewal. Senior drivers who use contacts or eyeglasses should always wear them while driving.

Deteriorated hearing and vision can make it more difficult to navigate the road at night, during inclement weather, or during heavy traffic congestion. Poor hearing may lead to a senior driver failing to notice an emergency siren or car horn in time to avoid a collision. Poor vision can make it unsafe to drive at night or during low-light conditions.

Drive Defensively

Defensive driving is a wise choice for drivers of all ages but senior drivers should be as realistic as possible about their driving abilities and use extra caution. “Defensive driving” refers to a driver taking a passive, anticipatory approach to driving rather than an aggressive one. This means braking early, maintaining awareness of the vehicle’s surroundings, and being more passive in busier areas.

Senior drivers also benefit from avoiding busy areas. Traffic congestion can make it very difficult to maintain situational awareness. An older driver struggling with hearing or vision loss may have even more trouble navigating traffic jams. Defensive driving and avoiding busy areas are great ways for senior drivers to avoid car accidents.

Older drivers may not enjoy the idea of surrendering a driver’s license, but it is essential for drivers of all ages to be realistic about their driving ability and acknowledge when it may be time to accept that it is too dangerous to keep driving. However, senior drivers may also be able to make a few changes to their routines that make driving safer, such as avoiding driving at night, planning routes in advance, and keeping close tabs on medical issues that impact driving ability. This helps senior drivers stay on the road longer and more safely.

Posted by highrank at 10:36 pm

What Is Gap Insurance and What Does It Cover?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Buying a new vehicle entails much more than paying a large down payment and arranging financing options. New vehicles require registration and insurance, and generally cost more to insure than older models. Vehicle owners need to carefully shop for auto insurance that not only meets their state’s requirements for coverage minimums but also provides the policyholder with a good balance of coverage at an affordable premium.

Most vehicle owners know that as soon as a person purchases a vehicle and drives it off the dealership lot, the vehicle starts losing value. The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that most vehicles lose about 20% of their initial value within the first year of ownership. Despite this, most standard vehicle insurance policies only cover the depreciated value of an insured vehicle. This means if a policyholder has an accident, the insurance coverage will refer to the value of the vehicle at the time of the accident, not when the owner bought it. To learn more, speak with a car accident lawyer in Bakersfield.

Gap Insurance Offers Peace of Mind

When a driver purchases or leases a new vehicle with only a small deposit, he or she finances the vehicle and makes monthly payments to pay it off in full over time. The vehicle continues to depreciate in value as the owner makes these payments over a few years. Gap insurance can help a new car owner feel more at ease and soften the financial blow after an accident. When an accident happens involving a vehicle the driver hasn’t fully paid off, gap insurance covers the difference between the current market value of the vehicle that the insurance policy will cover and the amount the driver still owes on the vehicle.

For example, John buys a new car for $20,000. One year later the market value of the vehicle has dropped to $13,000, but John has only paid $3,000 off the full price, owing a remaining $17,000 on the vehicle. If John gets into an accident with gap insurance coverage, the gap coverage will apply to the $4,000 difference between what John still owed on the vehicle and the current market value of the vehicle at the time of the accident.

When to Consider Gap Insurance

New drivers or drivers purchasing a second or third vehicle generally have many options when it comes to insurance coverage. A few indicators that a driver should consider gap insurance coverage with an auto insurance policy include:

  • Down payment amount. If the driver paid only 20% or less of the vehicle’s value as a down payment, it is a very good idea for the driver to purchase gap insurance for at least the first few years of owning the vehicle.
  • If the buyer finances the vehicle for more than 60 months, it will take quite a while to pay off the remaining balance. The vehicle will likely depreciate significantly during this time, so gap insurance can be very helpful for an accident in the first few years.
  • When a driver leases a vehicle, he or she doesn’t technically own the vehicle, so the dealer or seller will need some guarantee that the driver will take good care of the vehicle. Gap insurance is usually a requirement for leasing a vehicle.
  • Rapid devaluation. Some vehicles lose their value more quickly than others. Well-built vehicles in high demand typically retain their value longer than models discovered to have defects or common issues.
  • Negative equity. Some drivers will roll the negative equity leftover from a previous car loan into a new loan. This could increase the effective cost of the vehicle beyond its actual value, but the vehicle will still depreciate over time. Gap insurance offsets the financial risk of an accident significantly in such cases.

Some dealerships and car sellers will offer gap insurance for a new vehicle purchase or lease, but many private insurance carriers also over gap coverage. This type of coverage may only cost about $20, added onto the policyholder’s existing policy, but every insurance carrier offers different rates and package options.

Posted by highrank at 10:12 pm

How to File a Car Insurance Claim with Mercury Insurance

Monday, June 25, 2018

The moments following a car accident can be chaotic, but the actions you take are essential in protecting your car insurance claim. First, call emergency medical services to care for any passengers or other drivers who sustained injuries. Next, start collecting information for your claim with Mercury Insurance.

Gather Information at the Scene

After you call emergency medical services (if needed), you can begin the process of filing your insurance claim. Mercury Insurance offers the option of filing a claim by phone, and the company requests that you collect as much of the following information as possible:

  • The date, location, and time of the accident
  • The number of the police report, name of department responding (i.e. the sheriff’s office or city police department)
  • Description of the damage to all vehicles, with photos, if possible
  • A description of how the accident occurred
  • The makes, models, and years of all vehicles involved in the accident
  • Insurance policy numbers of all motorists involved in the accident
  • Names, license plate numbers, and driver’s license numbers of all drivers in the accident
  • Owner of the vehicles involved, if different from the driver
  • Identifiable information such as name, date of birth, and address

The more information you have, the easier it will be to follow the claims process. If the accident already occurred and you neglected to collect this information, don’t stress. You can fill in the details as you file a claim with the insurance company.

While at the accident scene, never admit fault – even if you think it was yours. Be polite to other drivers and passengers at the scene, but never apologize or insinuate that you were responsible for the injuries.

Know the Extent of Your Coverage

California law sets certain minimum requirements for all policyholders within the state. However, your coverage may exceed the minimum. For example, you may have rental reimbursement coverage, which will provide a rental car for transportation while your vehicle is in the shop. Read the terms of your policy to learn more about coverage limits before renting a car.

Most insurance policies also require a deductible before your insurance company will kick in to pay for repairs. The amount of your deductible may range from $100 to $500 or more, depending on the terms of your policy. You must meet your deductible before your insurance company will compensate for any damages. If, for example, you incurred $1,500 in damages in collision following an accident and your deductible is $500, insurance will likely offer to pay $1,000.

Observe All Requests for Documentation and Follow Deadlines

Mercury Insurance, like many other insurance companies, often requires additional documentation to investigate and complete the claims process. Observing all these instructions is essential to completing your claim. If you neglect to provide requested documentation within a set deadline, it could lead to a denial of coverage – even if you only miss it by a day or two.

In certain situations, however, it may be beneficial to wait instead of providing documentation right away. A common example is a request for release of medical records. A claims adjuster might ask you to sign a release to view your medical records to evaluate a claim, but it’s best to wait until your health care provider records the full extent of your injuries before consenting.

In car accidents involving extensive property damage or injury, consider hiring a Bakersfield car accident lawyer to help you with the claims process. He or she will serve as your advocate and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to attain fair compensation for the full value of your car accident claim.

Posted by highrank at 8:24 pm