A car accident will leave you with unforeseen stress and burdens. You may have injuries, medical bills, car repair costs, and even suffer emotional anguish after a car crash. You might feel even more frustrated if the accident was not your fault and your car is damaged.
While some people can drive away from the accident scene, sometimes damages are too extensive. If that’s the case, your car might be deemed a total loss following the crash. As a result, your car may have to be towed to a repair shop. You’ll likely wonder who will pay to fix your car when the adrenaline wears off.
Who Pays to Fix or Replace My Car?
“Who will pay for my car repairs?” might be one of the most critical questions following a crash. But, first, you must determine liability or who was at fault.
As a general rule of thumb, the other driver is liable for your damages if you were not at fault for the crash. That includes damage to your car and personal injury (any injuries you or passengers sustained).
Since Colorado law requires drivers to carry auto insurance, most property damage and personal injury claims can go directly through the at-fault driver’s insurance.
If the at-fault driver is insured, their insurance is responsible for the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle. This holds true even if your car is deemed a total loss.
What if My Vehicle Is a Total Loss?
Under Colorado law, if your car is totaled after an accident, you are entitled to recover the fair market value of your vehicle. To determine the fair market value of your vehicle, you can use sources like:
- Kelley’s Blue Book
- Certified appraisals
- Computerized valuation services
- Dealer quotes
- Comparing similar vehicles on the market through Craigslist, etc.
If you spent money on improving your car (e.g., new tires, sound system, upgraded shock absorbers), you can present those receipts for consideration. Then, theoretically, the at-fault party’s insurance company should also reimburse you for those costs.
What if My Vehicle Needs Repair After the Accident in Colorado?
After an accident, the best thing to do is take your car to a trusted car repair shop and get an estimate. Your attorney will recommend going to a body shop you feel comfortable with and know does good work. It’s best to get a second and even third estimate.
If the at-fault party has insurance, you don’t need to pay a deductible for any repair costs. However, there are circumstances when it could be faster and easier to go through your insurance company.
Will the At-Fault Driver Pay for All of My Repair Costs?
Colorado drivers must carry a minimum of $15,000 in property damage coverage. But sometimes, accident victims deal with the at-fault driver’s insurance refusing to pay for all the repair costs. As a result, the repair cost is often more than the at-fault driver’s policy coverage.
For example, this is a common scenario with clients who own a luxury vehicle, but the person who hit them only has minimum coverage. When this happens, the at-fault driver is considered “underinsured.” In that case, you may have to default to your underinsured motorist coverage if you have it. That would cover the difference between the at-fault driver’s coverage and the total cost to repair your vehicle. However, your underinsured motorist coverage would still only cover up to the limit you have on your insurance policy.
Can My Own Insurance Pay for Car Repairs in Colorado?
When you go through the at-fault party’s insurance company, processing a property damage claim can take longer. There are numerous accounts of insurance companies ignoring phone calls, returning calls at odd hours, or being generally unresponsive.
In situations where the at-fault party’s insurance company is challenging, you may use your own insurance company. This can sometimes be faster and easier than going through the other party’s insurance. Unfortunately, many Colorado insurance companies will purposely stall the process, especially if they insure higher-risk drivers. Larger insurance carriers generally don’t have as much of an issue with significant delays, but it sometimes happens.
Do I Need to Pay a Deductible?
You will pay an initial deductible if you go through your insurance. Once the repairs are complete, your insurance company and the other party’s insurance will determine who was at fault for the crash. Then, the insurance companies will determine liability through arbitration or mediation.
The other insurance company will reimburse your carrier if they determine that you were not at fault. They are responsible for covering the cost of repairs and reimbursing you for the deductible. However, if the at-fault driver does not have insurance or you are found liable for the accident, you will not be able to recover your deductible.
Contact a Denver Car Accident Lawyer
We feel your pain and have experienced lawyers who can answer your questions. Whether you were involved in a car accident, truck accident, pedestrian accident, or motorcycle accident, we are happy to review your case. In addition, we will give you tailored advice for the unique circumstances of your case.
If you were in a car accident in Colorado, contact our attorneys today for a free, no-obligation consultation, or call (720) 500-HURT.