What Happens if You Get into a Car Accident in a Financed Car?
Suffering an injury in a car accident is bad enough. If the wreck occurred in a car you were still financing, your stress levels are probably through the roof. You’re not only in pain, you’re also worried about how you’ll pay off the damaged car and buy a new one.
A car accident attorney can help ease your mind. They can fight for compensation to pay off your vehicle, medical bills, and other accident-related expenses. You can rest and focus on recovery when you have skilled legal representation.
Here’s an overview of complications from accidents involving financed vehicles and how a car accident lawyer can assist in managing them.
Do You Still Have to Pay Your Loan?
Yes. You’re still responsible for paying whatever remains of your original car loan. Whether or not a mechanic can repair your vehicle, you must continue to make payments.
But there is good news. You might not know you have options regarding payments. Here are just a few.
- Claim the at-fault driver – Some states mandate that drivers carry at least $10,000 in liability insurance. This money pays for damage that occurs when a policyholder causes a wreck.
- Rely on your insurance – You might have comprehensive insurance coverage for repairing or replacing your car, regardless of who was to blame for the accident. You’ll more than likely have to pay a deductible.
- Gap coverage – What if you owe more than you get from the at-fault driver’s liability coverage or your insurance? If you have gap insurance, you’re covered – as long as your gap insurer deems the car a total loss. Insurance companies must declare a car as totaled if repair costs amount to 80 percent or more of the car’s value. Your gap insurer will send a check to the lender for the remaining balance of your loan, and you’ll sign the title over to the insurer.
If you owe less on your loan than the car’s value, the insurer will still send a check to the lienholder. However, you’ll receive whatever is left over. Suppose your vehicle has a Kelley Blue Book value of $8,000, but you owe only $4,000. Your insurance company will send the $8,000 to the lender. The lender will then send you a check for the remaining $4,000.
The Insurance Company Claims the Wreck Was My Fault. What Do I Do?
This situation calls for a skilled, experienced car accident attorney. Unfortunately, many insurance companies will make getting the money you deserve challenging. They may refuse to pay the vehicle’s full value or pay for your other expenses resulting from the accident. The legal term for these expenses is “damages.”
The insurance company might cause problems even if you think the other driver’s fault is straightforward. If this happens, your car accident lawyer can investigate to determine what happened.
Your attorney will work to gather evidence to prove you weren’t to blame. They can go to the accident scene to check for fresh skid marks, indicating that the at-fault driver was speeding and slammed on their brakes to avoid your vehicle.
An attorney can also get evidence non-lawyers typically can’t access. For example, your car accident lawyer can obtain footage from surveillance cameras nearby that might have captured the accident. If it appears the at-fault driver was using their phone, your attorney can request their phone records.
Gathering proof is a detailed process that must begin immediately. Critical evidence can quickly disappear if you delay hiring a car accident lawyer. The faster you call an attorney, the earlier they can start the investigation.
Protecting You From Insurance Adjuster Harassment
Adjusters pose another challenge to your efforts to obtain compensation. These highly skilled, highly paid professionals do everything they can to protect their employer’s profit margins. They wield significant influence in the aftermath of a car wreck. Their opinion will go a long way toward whether or not the insurance company pays what they should.
Acting Like Your Friend
Adjusters, known for their strategies, might intensify their approach if you’re dealing with injuries. You need to have a strong advocate by your side to navigate through these complexities and ensure your rights are protected.
One tactic adjusters use is to trick claimants into accepting blame for an accident. They’ll usually take a friendly approach at first. The adjuster assigned to your case may ask how you feel, acting as if they’re concerned for your well-being.
They might then ask if they can record the conversation. If you agree, they’ll begin questioning you about the wreck. The adjuster may claim they want to get your side of the story, but their questions will be misleading. Insurers tell adjusters what to ask. They design questions in a manner that will trip you up. Regardless of your answer, it will look like you were at least partially at fault for the wreck.
Tempting You With a Low-Ball Settlement
Insurance companies are notorious for preying on a claimant’s fear and uncertainty, especially when hurt. Accident victims aren’t only worried about how they’ll repay the loan for their damaged car. They also stress about their medical bills. They can’t work, so they also worry about their lost income.
Insurers see this stress and worry as an opportunity. If they know you don’t have a car accident attorney, they’ll offer you what seems to be an attractive settlement. This offer can be tens of thousands of dollars.
But consider all your damages. If you’re severely injured, your medical bills can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. What about your lost income? You cannot return to work for months. Your paychecks will eventually stop arriving.
As tempting as accepting that settlement may be, you can’t do it. If you do, that will end your case. You won’t be eligible for pursuing more compensation. You’ll have to pay for whatever expenses remain once the settlement money disappears.
A car accident attorney can prevent this worst-case scenario. They’ll assess the full extent of your damages and fight to ensure you receive compensation for all of them. A lawyer can also protect you from insurance adjuster harassment.
Seasoned car accident lawyers know how to delve deep into the complexities of a case, leaving no stone unturned in evaluating damages. They comprehensively assess not just immediate losses but anticipate future losses. Your attorney will ensure that your settlement accurately reflects the extent of property damage, medical expenses, and other tangible losses.
By acting as a buffer between you and the insurance adjusters, your car accident attorney will be instrumental in securing equitable compensation.
Communicating with the Lender
A wreck involving a financed car can be complex if the insurer says the car is a total loss. If the lender proves troublesome, a car accident attorney can help.
The insurer may refuse to pay what you owe for the car. If that happens, the lender may harass you for your loan balance. A lawyer can protect you from harassment or threats, protecting your rights at every turn. They can tell the lienholder that you’re taking legal action to force the insurance company to compensate you appropriately.
Your attorney can also negotiate with lenders for temporary relief, understanding that the aftermath of an accident can have lasting financial repercussions. Whether through restructuring loans or negotiating temporary relief, they guide managing ongoing financial obligations.
Their comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of loans ensures that your financial stability remains intact, protecting you from potential long-term financial implications.
Navigating the Personal Injury Claims Process
If you’re severely injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s carelessness, you’re worried about a lot more than just your wrecked vehicle. You want to know who will pay your medical bills and other damages. A car accident lawyer will thoroughly calculate these damages to secure every dollar you rightfully deserve.
Beyond the tangible damages mentioned earlier (medical expenses, lost income, and property damage), you might also have what are known as “non-economic” damages. These are subjective damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and lost quality of life. Experienced car accident attorneys understand the impact of these intangible losses and will go to great lengths to ensure you receive fair compensation.
Negotiating a Fair Settlement
Since the insurance company likely won’t hand you the money you deserve without a fight, you’ll want a car accident lawyer who will be up to the challenge. Seasoned attorneys are excellent negotiators. This characteristic is essential to helping clients achieve the best possible outcome.
Your attorney will make a compelling case backed by solid evidence to secure a settlement that accurately reflects your damages. Skilled negotiators have a strategic mindset. They leverage their deep knowledge of the law and understanding of all the case details.
The following is a look at some of the strategies your attorney will likely use when negotiating with an insurance company.
- The demand letter – Once the attorney completes their investigation, they’ll know how much your case is worth. The demand letter will include the cost of your wrecked car, medical bills, and all other damages. This is the letter your car accident lawyer will send to the insurer.
- Documentation – Your attorney will have all relevant documentation to show why you deserve the compensation outlined in the demand letter. This documentation includes witness statements, medical bills, pay stubs, and anything else required to prove your damages.
- Patience – Insurance company negotiations can be emotional. If an insurer continually denies compensation despite compelling evidence, it can be easy for an attorney to become frustrated. But the best car accident lawyers always keep their cool. They know expressing frustration will hurt their clients’ chances of receiving a fair settlement.
- Willingness to compromise – Effective attorneys are flexible enough to be open to compromise – within reason. You and your lawyer might have a maximum settlement amount in mind. But if you both believe the insurer’s offer is fair, you can accept the offer without going to trial.
What if You Go to Court?
Insurance companies and attorneys settle most cases without going to court. But there are rare instances when an insurer will remain stubborn. When that happens, you need a car accident attorney who can make a compelling case before a judge or jury. Your lawyer must also meet all deadlines set by the court and present expert witnesses if needed.
Expert witnesses are often critical to a case. An accident reconstruction professional, for instance, can spell out how the wreck occurred and why you weren’t to blame. A medical professional can testify regarding your injury’s severity and also confirm how much your treatment will cost. Professionals can, in many instances, make or break a case.
Get in Touch With a Skilled Car Accident Attorney
If you’ve recently been in an accident that has damaged your financed car, take a deep breath – there’s a solution. An experienced car accident lawyer will diligently work to secure the necessary funds to pay off the car and handle all the associated damages.
Conducting thorough research to find the attorney you feel is best to represent you is crucial. Being confident that your case is in the hands of a competent professional will offer you the peace of mind you need during this challenging time.
Seek your free consultation with a Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer today.