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Motor Vehicle Damage Claims

The Personal Injury Lawyers are experts in smash repair claims

Motor vehicle accidents cause injury and damage. Obviously, the more serious concern will always be any injury arising from an accident, however, when an accident causes you injury, the last thing you want to think about is dealing with insurers and other drivers to recover the costs of repair or replacement of your vehicle. This is where we can help.

The Personal Injury Lawyers are experts in motor accident claims and can step in to help you with both your claim for injury compensation and recovery of the repair or replacement costs of your damaged vehicle.

If you have been in a car accident, then you know of the inconvenience that can occur when your motor vehicle is damaged. This is particularly the case where the party at fault has no insurance or will not admit blame.

Whether your vehicle is repairable after an accident or is a write off, the stress that can be involved in getting your car repaired or replaced, can be quite overwhelming, particularly where you are recovering from injuries involved in a traffic accident.

Recovery of motor vehicle repair or replacement costs

There are a number of issues that can arise when seeking to recover the costs of any damage to your motor vehicle following an accident.

Firstly, you should report the accident to police in the area where the accident occurred. Reporting of an accident is now only required where someone suffers injury or death as a result of the accident, but you should report the accident in any event. This will provide you with some protection if the other party tries to blame you for the accident.

You have 6 years from the date of the accident to recover any property damage caused by a road accident. If you are claiming for personal injury from a motor vehicle accident, then you have only 3 years in which to claim.

Claiming for motor vehicle repairs

You will need to obtain a quote for the repair of your vehicle. You do not need to obtain more than one repair quote unless the repair costs are disputed.  If you are claiming under your insurance for the repairs, then many car insurance companies require you provide them with at least 2 quotes for repair costs, and some have their own assessment centres and panel of Smash Repairers who you are required to use to repair your vehicle under the terms of your insurance.  

If the other party involved in the accident has accident insurance however, then you are not bound to use your insurer's Panel Beaters or Smash Repairers.

Claiming for replacement vehicle costs

If your vehicle is so damaged that it is not worth repairing, then you will need to obtain evidence of the market value of the vehicle at the time of the accident. You can do this by obtaining a certificate of the vehicles value from such places as Redbook (www.redbook.com.au) or Glass's Guide (www.glassguide.com.au) for a small fee. The value of the wreck can be obtained froma Wrecker. If you are insured, your insurer will obtain these values for you.

Dealing with your comprehensive insurer

There are 3 types of car accident insurance, Compulsory Third Party Insurance, more commonly known as "CTP insurance", which is part of your vehicle registration and covers injury caused to others,  Comprehensive Car Insurance, which covers the damage caused to vehicles in an accident including your own vehicle, and finally, Third Party Insurance, where the vehicle is only insured for damage to other vehicles in an accident.

Most people have Comprehensive Car Insurance that covers the damage costs caused to their own car and other vehicles when involved in an accident. In such case, when you have an accident all you need to do is put in your claim with your comprehensive insurer and your insurer then handles the claim against the at fault party or their comprehensive insurer, for recovery of repair or replacement costs.

If you have an excess on your comprehensive insurance, and the accident is not your fault, then the excess is to be met by the party at fault and you are not responsible for this.

Problems can arise when dealing with motor vehicle insurers

In some cases, problems can arise when dealing with your comprehensive insurer. You may feel they are not meeting their obligations under your policy of insurance or they are not paying you enough for your vehicle replacement costs.

We can help you with this. We will investigate the insurer's obligations under the terms of your motor vehicle insurance policy and step in to deal with your car accident insurance claim to ensure that you receive all entitlements you have under your policy or from the party who caused the accident.

Major difficulties can arise if you or the party at fault does not have motor vehicle insurance

Where major difficulties usually arise in recovering the costs of motor vehicle repairs from a motor vehicle accident is when one or more of the parties involved in the accident does not hold comprehensive or third party car insurance or where there is argument over who was at fault for the accident occurring.

Where you don't have Comprehensive or Third Party Insurance

If you are in a traffic accident and you do not have comprehensive insurance on your vehicle, and it was not your fault, then you need to seek recovery directly from the party at fault or their insurer for the costs of repair of your car, motorcycle, bicycle, truck etc.  This is most likely when you will need the assistance of The Personal Injury Lawyers.

The process usually involved in such cases is:

  • Firstly you will need to obtain a quote for the repair of your vehicle from a reputable smash repairer or panel beater. You do not need more than one quote unless the costs are disputed. If your vehicle is to be replaced, then you will need to obtain a certificate of the value of the vehicle at the time of the accident and the value of the wreckage as indicated above.
  • A claim is then lodged with the at fault party's comprehensive motor vehicle insurer or third party insurer, or if they do not have insurance, then a letter of demand is sent to the at fault party, seeking the costs of repair or replacement along with the quotation or value certificate and wreckage quote confirming the repair or replacement costs.
  • If the insurer or at fault party refuses to meet your demands, then steps will need to be taken to enforce their compliance, via the litigation process. 

Where the party at fault holds comprehensive or third party car insurance covering the costs of damage to other vehicles, then normally the insurer will step in to meet your claim. Usually, the party at fault will advise of their insurer at the time of the accident, so you can lodge your claim directly with the insurer, rather than send letters of demand to the at fault party. 

Where the party at fault does not have Comprehensive or Third Party Insurance

In the case where the party at fault holds no insurance for damage to other vehicles, then this can be a real problem in recovery of the costs of motor vehicle repairs or replacement. Obviously, if you have comprehensive insurance over your vehicle, then you will be able to recover your repair or replacement costs from your insurer, in accordance with its obligations under your insurance policy. But where you do not hold insurance, then this can be a real concern.

Your demands for payment for your motor vehicle damage may not be met because the negligent driver just does not have the funds to pay for the car repair or replacement costs.  In such cases, litigation to enforce compliance with payment of your repair costs will be necessary, but it will only be viable if the at fault party holds some means of meeting the car repair/replacement costs and the legal costs involved in pursuing recovery of them.

The Personal Injury Lawyers can help you out in such circumstances. We can investigate whether the at fault party holds assets to meet your property damage claims and advise you as to whether it is worth bringing a claim for such recovery.

Disagreement as to who caused the accident can cause problems in recovering repair costs

In circumstances where there is disagreement over who caused the accident, then again, this can cause problems with recovery of car repair/replacement costs following a car accident. In such case you will need the assistance of experts in motor accident claims to help you understand whether any claims that you contributed to the accident occurring are valid or not and, if so, what apportionment of liability is appropriate, as well as what this means to you in recovering the costs of the damage to your motor vehicle.

What property damage am I entitled to claim for?

Generally, the property damage caused in a motor vehicle accident, that you are entitled to claim for, can include:

Smash repair costs / market value of vehicle if written off

You can claim for repair costs of your damaged vehicle, and where your motor vehicle repairs come in at more than the value of your motor vehicle at the time of the accident, then your right to recovery from the party at fault is limited to the market value, or "Blue Book" value of your vehicle at the time of the accident, less the value of the wreckage.  If you had made improvements to your vehicle prior to the accident that increased its Blue Book value, then this should be taken into account when assessing its market value.

If your car is written off, then you should take the number plates from the vehicle to the Main Roads Department and seek a refund of registration remaining on the vehicle that will no longer be required.

Towing costs

You can also claim for towing costs you have incurred as a result of the accident.

Property damage other than to your motor vehicle

Property damage caused by a motor vehicle accident is also not limited to damage to vehicles, but can include damage to property within or outside the vehicle (eg. homes or fences), as long as there is adequate evidence of such damage and it can be reasonably connected to the motor vehicle accident. 

Hire car costs

Often when car accidents occur, people are left without means of transportation and this can be a huge inconvenience, especially if injured from the car accident and you need transportation to attend on doctors appointments and for treatment.  

Recovery for the reasonable costs of car hire may also be sought for the period your vehicle is being repaired or until vehicle replacement costs are met.  And if you are injured in the accident, then you will also be entitled to claim back travel costs incurred in attending medical appointments for treatment or rehabilitation, from the CTP insurer of the at-fault vehicle, if you lodge a motor accident claim.

What if I still have finance owing on my vehicle?

Often, when a car is written off in a motor vehicle accident, it may still have finance attached to it, that is, the vehicle is still subject to a motor vehicle loan and was in the process of being paid off when the accident occurred. If the outstanding loan and interest at the time of the accident is greater than the value of the vehicle when written off, this can be a problem. However, there are often insurances attached to motor vehicle finance agreements to deal with this.

If you are in this situation, The Personal Injury Lawyers can look into this for you, and you should not take any steps in agreeing to any write off amount for your vehicle until you speak to us. This is because investigations may be required to identify whether the shortfall insurance includes any terms and conditions that need to be met before any shortfall is paid out, eg. whether the shortfall insurer has to be in agreement with any write off amount being paid for the damage to your vehicle.

See a doctor about any accident injury - no matter how minor you think it is

If you are in a motor vehicle accident, then you may very well have sustained injury. Sometimes injuries are not immediately obvious following an accident but can take days or even weeks to show themselves. If you are involved in a car accident or road accident of any sort, you need to take notice of this and be alert to any pain or discomfort you experience following an accident. If you do experience any pain or discomfort, no matter how minor it may be, you need to see a doctor about this as soon as possible and report the accident and the pain or discomfort you are experiencing so it is recorded.  

Minor accident injuries can become major injuries later on

We at the Personal Injury Lawyers often see cases where clients advise us of experiencing some minor discomfort in their lower back or neck following an accident, and then, within a few months or year after the accident, they suffer serious problems with these injured areas. In some cases we have seen people requiring back surgery from an accident months afterwards, where they suffered only minor pain in their lower back immediately following the accident and thought nothing of it. Unfortunately the trauma of an accident can cause degenerative conditions to develop, which can worsen over time, resulting in significant injury and disability months or years later.  

Don't assess your injuries yourself - see a doctor.

Failing to report minor injuries early can cause problems 

If you fail to report any pain or discomfort you experience following an accident, it can be very difficult to claim for the significant financial loss and damage you suffer should those minor injuries escalate down the track, because the insurer will question whether the injuries are accident related. That is why it is very important you see a doctor following an accident and report any pain or discomfort as soon as possible, no matter how minor you think your injuries might be.

Don't take risks - investigate whether you need to bring a personal injury claim

If you suffer injury in an accident and that injury causes you problems undertaking your work now or is at risk of doing so in the future, then this can result in real problems for you, including being unable to properly support yourself and your family financially in the future.   That is why it is so important that you investigate whether you have a personal injury claim to pursue following a motor vehicle accident with experts in motor accident claims - to ensure you are not at risk because of any injury sustained in the accident, and if you are, then you have the right compensation to fall back on if you need it.

Contact The Personal Injury Lawyers

If you are in a motor vehicle accident, you need to contact The Personal Injury Lawyers as soon as possible to discuss your accident and to ensure that you are taking the right steps to ensure you and your family are protected.  Your initial consultation with us is totally FREE and it is without any obligation and completely confidential.  Contact us on 1300 783 303 now, or send us a FREE enquiry form via our website by clicking on the following link: Free Appraisal Form or ask for one of our FREE Claim Information Packs, including a Guide on Recovery of Smash Repair Costs at the link: Request for Claim Information Pack. We also have a FREE Livechat service on our website if you would like to Chat.

Please be aware that time limits do apply to motor accident claims and so it is very important that you contact us as soon as possible to ensure you are not missing out on bringing a claim and significant compensation that you will need in the future.

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