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Automobile Damage

Q: Can I control whether my car is repaired or replaced?

A: This can be a difficult issue. For most people, getting back into their own vehicle, so long as it is safe, it a priority. Normally, the insurance company has the option to either repair or replace your vehicle, depending on whether it costs less to replace your vehicle than to repair it. If this is the case, the insurance company will declare your vehicle a “total loss,” and take action to replace your vehicle. If your car is declared a “total loss,” the insurance company buys your car for its market value (see below), which can be difficult to determine. If you wish to keep the wrecked car, you may purchase it back from the insurance company for its salvage value. The insurance adjuster can deduct the salvage value from the settlement and you can keep the car.Often the situation is reversed, and the insurance company chooses to repair a vehicle rather than replace it. In this case, if you are concerned about the safety of the repaired vehicle, you should contact our office to discuss your options.
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Q: How is the market value of my car determined?

A: You are entitled to recover the “fair market value” or the “actual cash value” of your vehicle immediately before the accident. Market comparisons and evaluation are often the best means for determining fair value.
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Q: What if I am “upside down” on the loan for my car?

A: If you owe more money on the loan for the car than the fair market value of the car, you are “upside down” on the loan. Unfortunately, if your vehicle is a total loss, the insurance company is not required to pay more money to you simply because you are “upside down” with your car loan. They are only obligated to pay the “fair market value” of your car. We can discuss what options may be available to you if this situation occurs.
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Q: Can I choose my own repair shop?

A: Yes. You always have the right to decide who will repair your vehicle, however the cost of the repair is not always determined by the estimate given by the repair facility of your choosing. We highly recommend choosing an independent body shop; not one with direct repair insurance contracts.
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Q: What kind of parts will be used in the repair?

A: You have the right to demand that only original manufacturer parts be used in the repair, so if your car is a (GM) parts, you should receive genuine Pontiac (GM) parts. Since your car was probably not new at the time of the accident, however, the mechanic may use refurbished or reconditioned parts if it will return your vehicle to “pre-loss” condition.
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Q: What if my car already had some damage before the accident?

A: If your vehicle had damage to it prior to the accident, it can be difficult to determine exactly what portion of the damage was caused by the accident itself. For example, if your car has a mechanical problem, the insurance company may claim that it existed prior to the accident if some evidence indicates that there was substantial wear and tear. Therefore, it is important that you prove the connection between the auto accident and the damage you are claiming. Ordinarily, mechanics and collision repair personnel can help to prove the age of body damage or the cause of a mechanical failure. They can assist to convince the insurance company that the auto accident caused the damage you are claiming. They can assist to convince the insurance company that the auto accident caused the property damage you are claiming and if they cannot, we will.
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Q: What if I need a rental car? Do I have to pay for it while my car is being repaired?

A: If you caused the accident, or if there is a dispute over who is to blame, then you must either pay for the rental car yourself or seek coverage under your own insurance policy if rental coverage is available. Many insurance contracts do not provide for rental coverage for their own customers, so you need to contact your insurance agent to determine what coverage exists. If the other driver is at fault, then we will demand that the insurance company for the person who caused the accident provide you with a rental car for the time needed to repair your vehicle. Sometimes, you must pay the rental car bill first, with reimbursement coming from the insurance company later.
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Q: What kind of rental car am I entitled to?

A: The responsible party has to pay for the reasonably incurred rental cost of a substitute vehicle. Often, there are disputes as to what qualifies as a “substitute” vehicle. Essentially, it should be a vehicle of similar quality, within the confines of what is available for rent.
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Q: Should I purchase any extra insurance on the rental car provided to me?

A: Your own insurance policy should cover you while driving the rental car, but you should call your insurance agent to be sure that you are covered. The other driver’s insurance company is not required to pay for additional insurance if you choose to purchase it from the car rental company. Do not select this coverage without consulting an experienced and successful Phoenix, AZ personal injury attorney first.
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In all automobile accident cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any serious or catastrophic injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of an automobile accident, call now or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if our Phoenix, AZ car accident lawyers agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don’t delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.

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Chandler, AZ 85224

P (480) 222-2020

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Glendale, AZ 85301

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Phoenix, AZ 85016

P (602) 424-7448

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Tucson, AZ 85705

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Yuma AZ, 85364

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California

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Newport Beach, CA 92660

P (310) 540-6851

Washington

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6314 19th Street West
Suite 15

Fircrest, WA 98466

P (253) 471-1075

Disclaimer: David Wattel and Michael York are licensed attorneys in Arizona only. Washington cases are handled in the firm's Washington office only, by lawyers admitted to practice in Washington.

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