Call Now To Learn More About Your Legal Rights

(479) 337-7077

OR Text Us:

(479) 358-1998
Mullins & Blake Attorneys

Text Us:

(479) 358-1998

Property And Personal Injury Claims

Two crashed cars on a road, damaged and in disarray after a collision.Filing A Personal Injury Claim Versus Filing A Property Damage Claim In Arkansas

The process of filing a property damage claim differs from filing a personal injury claim after an auto accident, primarily in the type of evidence and documentation required. When filing a personal injury claim, you’ll typically need to gather medical bills, records, proof of lost wages, and evidence of injuries to your body.

In contrast, a property damage claim is more straightforward. I often explain to people that while you can’t purchase a hurt back or a sore neck at the store, you can buy parts for a car. With a property damage claim, you collect evidence on what it will take to restore your vehicle to its pre-accident condition or determine its value if it’s deemed totaled. Usually, you’ll work with a body shop that advocates for you, as they’re interested in either securing the business to repair your car or helping you obtain the compensation you’d need for a replacement vehicle.

Common Challenges When Dealing With Property Damage Claims

One of the most common challenges people face when dealing with property damage claims after a car wreck is the delay in determining fault. This delay often leaves them without a rental car and compensation for their damaged vehicle. This may cause them to experience delays in getting their car repaired or receiving a total loss offer – but this is just the beginning.

Nearly as common but much more difficult to undergo is how Insurance companies oftentimes deny property damage claims for various reasons. This frequently leads to disputes between the party involved in the car accident and the insurance providers, whether it’s third-party or first-party insurance. These frequently express themselves as:

Estimate Discrepancies

Disputes often arise over what the insurance company is willing to cover based on the estimate provided by the body shop for car repairs.

Aftermarket Vs. Original Manufacturer Parts

There may be disagreements regarding the use of aftermarket parts versus original manufacturer parts in the repair process.

Labor Rates

Insurance companies may contest the hourly rates for labor charged by the body shop.

Disputes Over Unrelated Damage

Insurers commonly try to argue that certain damages were pre-existing or unrelated to the accident. The goal here is to minimize their liability.

Preference For Repair Over Total Loss

Many people prefer their vehicle to be declared a total loss rather than repaired. However, the insurance company is more likely than not going to aggressively resist this, especially if the cost of repair is close to but below the threshold for totaling the vehicle.

In Arkansas, there’s a specific rule regarding when an insurance company must declare a vehicle a total loss. If the cost of repairs exceeds 70% of the value of the vehicle before the accident, the insurance company is obligated to total it and compensate the owner for the pre-accident value.

However, situations often arise where the cost of repairs falls below the 70% threshold but is still significant, say around 50% of the vehicle’s value. In such cases, the insurance company will most likely strongly resist declaring a total loss to save money, voicing a desire to proceed with repairs rather than paying out a full total loss settlement.

This dynamic especially can lead to negotiations and disputes between the vehicle owner and the insurance company regarding the best course of action for the damaged vehicle.

Hiring an attorney and initiating the investigation process as soon as possible can help expedite the property damage process. Attorneys can navigate the complexities of determining fault and advocate for their clients to ensure timely resolution and compensation for property damage claims. Lawyers can help clients gather evidence to challenge the insurance company’s denial, including providing pictures of the vehicle pre-accident, affidavits from body shop professionals, or assessments from auto experts to prove the extent of damage and the necessity for a total loss settlement. This assistance ensures that clients receive fair compensation and can make informed decisions about their vehicle’s repair or replacement.

Our firm is prepared to take your case to court should you experience any of these challenges, but before reaching that stage, we focus on gathering the evidence required to present a strong case against the insurance company’s offerings for car value or repairs. This is essential for countering the insurance company’s claims and presenting a compelling argument to a jury to ensure fair and proper compensation for our clients. In doing so, we aim to achieve the best possible outcome for our clients whether inside or outside the courtroom.

Weighing Up Filing A Lawsuit

Depending on the value of your car and the extent of repairs needed, pursuing legal action can be the best option for you to take. If you receive a zero offer for car repairs and the at-fault party bears full responsibility, taking legal action may, in fact, be necessary, especially if you don’t have any other options to mitigate the damage and repair it any other way.

It’s important to realize that when dealing with third-party insurance, separate lawsuits are typically required for property damage and personal injury claims. Settling a personal injury claim usually involves signing a release, thereby releasing the third-party driver and their insurance from further claims. Signing this release forfeits the ability to pursue property damage compensation.

If your property damage claim faces complications, filing a lawsuit encompasses both property damage and personal injury claims. While you can address property damage and personal injury claims separately, encountering issues with property damage necessitates filing a lawsuit for both aspects simultaneously.

It’s important to understand that, right or wrong, the reality is that having a firm like ours on your side will most likely lead to being treated differently by the insurance company compared to handling it on your own. It’s important to keep this in mind when thinking through whether to file a lawsuit or not. Not having access to solid legal counsel and representation may mean your case ends up going nowhere fast.

Recently, we’ve observed general communication breakdowns hindering things between body shops and insurance adjusters, especially when it comes to estimates and supplemental estimates. Our role is to streamline this process, ensuring smoother progress toward repairing your car or securing appropriate compensation to restore your pre-accident status. And that’s something we do well, we think.

One of the most valuable services we offer is connecting you with the right resources to address your specific concerns. Whether you need assistance securing a rental car or obtaining supplemental funds for unexpected repair issues identified by the body shop, we can connect you with the right people.

Yet, not all situations are adversarial in nature. Sometimes, the issue lies in simple miscommunication rather than a dispute over compensation. Even in these situations, we can help. We make a big difference by establishing effective communication channels between relevant parties, potentially expediting the resolution of your property damage claim. Our edge lies in connecting you with the individuals capable of resolving your concerns, which can significantly accelerate the claims process.

Next Steps

If the insurance company refuses to negotiate fairly and payout your claim, you aren’t left with much to do other than consider filing a lawsuit. In such cases, we pursue legal action for both your bodily injury and property damage claims simultaneously if you’ve partnered with us.

Taking the matter to court compels the insurance company to engage in legal proceedings and incur additional expenses, which they could have avoided by settling the claim fairly from the outset.

If you partner with us, we exhaust all options to ensure we have compelling evidence to support your case before initiating a lawsuit. This includes assessing whether your car is a total loss, determining its value, and getting independent estimates to compare with the insurance company’s offer. We also investigate any discrepancies, such as disagreements between the insurance company and the body shop regarding repair costs, to understand the root cause of the dispute.

Here, we gather all necessary evidence and establish a solid case before proceeding with legal action. This serves as the primary means by which we fulfill our ultimate goal: to maximize your chances of success in court and secure the compensation you deserve, setting you up for success well into the future.

For more information on Filing A Property Damage Claim In AR, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (479) 337-7077 today.

Mullins & Blake Attorneys

Call Now To Learn More About Your Legal Rights
(479) 337-7077