Maryland car and truck accident claims require patience for all involved. Here is why. Chapter One: Property Damage

When you are a victim of another driver's negligence it is inevitable that you will be anxious and stressed out in dealing with the myriad facets of recovery.

Property damage is one suprisingly complicated area. Want a rental car to replace your suddenly compromised car or truck, no guarantee. Repairs or total loss, gap coverage, lost income; there are many things to consider.

We will tackle these issues in a cursory fashion in an attempt to provide some useful guidance.

1). Rental cars. The at-fault driver's insurance company is the first best source for a temporary substitute vehicle. Often this process requires the at-fault driver giving a statement to their insurer and often those at-fault drivers are not very responsive or responsible about providing same.

This drives our clients crazy. Their vehicle is totalled and the at-fault driver clearly was the cause and admitted so at the scene but still Geico ( pick any insurer) insists on the need for such a statement before considering provision of a rental vehicle. Sometimes, at-fault drivers who knew they were responsible at the scene, change their minds afterwards, thinking their insurance rates may be increased.

So the alternatives are be patient and wait for Geico to get its statement, rent a car on your own, knowing you should be repaid by Geico later when it is clear that their insured has no defense or attempt to get a rental through your own insurance. This can be quite frustrating and sometimes there is no satisfactory solution but to call a lawyer.

2). Repair or total loss? This is complicated as well. Your perfectly good paid off  Toyota gets clobbered by someone who runs a red light. It's worth $10,000.00 used and the cost to repair is $7,500.00. The at-fault insurance totals it and offers you the $10,000.00. Do you take the money knowing that either you will need to get a car loan to get a new or newer vehicle or get it repaired, knowing that it might not ever be as good as before the crash?

It is a true dilemma because the best answer may be take the $10,000.00, use it to get the car repaired and pocket $2,500.00 except the insuarnce company wants the car for salvage if they total it.

3). Gap Coverage. Designed to pay off the difference between what you owe on the vehicle and what it is presently worth, it is useful but imperfect. Policies vary and some don't accomplish their objective. Many drivers are unhappy that they have been making car payments for two years and when their car is totalled they have nothing to show for it.

4). Lost Income Attention: Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing drivers. Your custom fitted Uber machine gets damaged and the at-fault driver's insurer gets you a rental the problem is that they don't replace your Four-Runner with a comparable vehicle or worse the rental car company forbids commercial ( ride-sharing) use of their vehicle. Suddenly your income goes poof!

Several solutions can be posited, First many ride sharing companies provide vehicles for their driver's use and perhaps that is a less profitable way to make income while your vehicle is fixed. If your income goes down during this temporary period and you can quantify it you may get this as part of a settlement.

You can also borrow or rent vehicles and build that cost into any settlement demand. The bottom line,be patient and talk to an attorney about your situation it costs you nothing.

Robert V. Clark
Maryland Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer
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