This is a follow-up to our recent blog on Car Accidents: Property loss, which we encourage you to read to learn more about how the property loss portion of an accident claim are handled. This blog will provide some insight as to how the property loss is handled when the vehicle is not a total loss and can be repaired.
Should I send my car to the mechanic that the insurance company recommends?
In the strongest possible wording – BEWARE! Many times, following an accident, the innocent party does not know what to do or where to send their car for repairs. The negligent person’s insurance company may recommend an auto body shop to you where you can take your vehicle to get repaired. Sounds like a good neighbor, right? Unfortunately, as Houston Injury Lawyers has seen over the years, many insurance companies have “preferred” auto body shops or “Direct Referral Program.” The dirty secret is that these auto body shops have agreements in place with the insurance companies to make repairs in a certain way to keep the costs low to the insurance company. More jobs, less profit per job for the mechanic. But still more profitable because of the quantity of vehicles that will be referred to the auto body shop. The problem with these agreements is that it allows the insurance company to dictate and expedite repairs – often deviating from manufacturer recommendations for the specific repairs. In fact, repairs are often rushed, and the use of “refurbished” or “remanufactured” parts can be prevalent. Even if the parts are new, aftermarket parts are frequently used. At Houston Injury Lawyers, we had a case where a client’s side view mirror was damaged in an accident. The auto body shop glued it back on with a JB weld-type substance. A few good rain storms later and the mirror fell off their car as they were driving on the highway and caused damage to a vehicle following close behind it. The client had taken their vehicle to the insurance company’s recommended mechanic for repairs following an accident. Repairs are often rushed (more on why below) and the use of inferior, not original equipment manufacturer parts, can cause a dangerous situation.
Can I use my own mechanic for repairs?
YES! And not only yes, you absolutely should take your vehicle to a mechanic of your choice that you trust, to have the repairs made. And it is okay to ask your mechanic if they are a “preferred” vendor of the insurance company that is paying for the repairs. They don’t have to tell you, but be wary of any mechanic that won’t answer your question with a simple “No.” Insurance Companies want t make it seem like you have no choice when it comes to where to take your vehicle to be repaired following an accident. But you absolutely have the right to choose your own mechanic in Texas.
Insurance Companies like to make it seem like you have no choice as to where to take your vehicle to get repairs made after an accident. But in Texas, the law is clear that within 3 business days following the report of an accident, the insurance company is supposed to send you a notice in writing that states that you have the right to choose your own mechanic following an accident. However, the insurance company only has to pay the “reasonable” cost of the repairs. So it would be of benefit to get several quotes for the repairs prior to choosing a shop for the repairs.
Loss Of Use
In Texas, you can also request additional damages from the insurance company for loss of use of the vehicle as a result of the accident. Traditionally, this is seen when the insurance company provides you with a rental vehicle while your vehicle is being repaired. However, it sometimes can take the form of bus money, uber, lyft, etc. for those who may not be able to rent a vehicle or for other extenuating circumstances. Sometimes, in commercial vehicles, the company must lease another vehicle temporarily – say a delivery truck for example. This would be a loss of use damage.
Also in Texas, you should recover from another insurance company, in addition to the cost of the repairs, diminished value. When a car is involved in an accident and repaired (vs. a total loss), it will inherently lose value due to the accident and repairs. There is no set way to prove this loss in value and it will be a negotiation. One way of obtaining evidence as to the loss in value is to run a Kelly Blue Book value on the vehicle as if it was not in an accident, and then run again with the accident reported. This will give some indication as to the loss in value – but it is “some” evidence – not “conclusive evidence.” It will be a negotiation.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is important to speak with an experienced Houston personal injury attorney like the lawyers at Houston Injury Lawyers. We assist our clients with the property portion of their claim in addition to the injuries. And don’t delay. Get a free consultation today! We don’t recover until you recover.
* At Houston Injury Lawyers, our clients are our family. As personal injury attorneys in Houston, Texas, we work to help our clients and their families recover from their injuries. Tip the balance of justice into your favor by hiring us. For a free consultation, contact us at (713) 366-HURT or visit us at www.houinjurylawyers.com.