My car is wrecked, now what?

QUESTION:

My car is wrecked, now what?

So some numbskull texting and driving runs a stoplight and plows into your car.  The car is either a total loss or is repairable. So what next?

AND THE ANSWER IS:

The first thing is to have your car towed or-if drivable, driven to the repair shop of your choice.

Next, contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company and set up a claim.  Tell them where your car is and have them send out a claims adjuster to look at your car ASAP.  Tell them that it is not drivable and demand a rental car.

Rental Cars:  Under South Carolina Law, you are entitled to a vehicle while your car is in the shop.  But what kind of vehicle?  Don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to accept the cheapest car on the rental car lot.  The law says you are entitled to a “similar” or “like” car.  If your work van was damaged they should authorize a rental work van.  If you were driving a BMW, then you’re entitled to a similar quality car.  They don’t have to provide you a BMW, but it should be a comparable four-door sedan.  Another question that frequently comes up is whether or not YOU have to put down your credit card and get reimbursed later.  The answer is NO.

The key to securing a temporary replacement vehicle of like make and model is to be persistent.  The squeaky wheel does get the grease.  So you might ask, “Mr. Lawyer I hired you to represent me for my car wreck, so why don’t you deal with it?”  The answer is twofold.  First, we don’t bring a lot of value to the equation.  Fixing your car will cost what fixing your car will cost.  Second, charging a fee on the repair of your vehicle would not be in your best interest financially.  We would be glad to give advice, but having an attorney in the equation as the middle man only slows down the process.

Total Loss:  When is your car “totaled?”  Under South Carolina law a vehicle is deemed totaled when the estimate for repair exceeds 70 percent of the car’s value.  As an example, say after doing your research you realize that your vehicle is worth $11,000.  The repair estimate is $7,700.  The insurance company will likely pay you the $11,000 for the car, take possession of it and send it to a salvage yard where it will be auctioned off and parted out.  A vehicle that is deemed totaled will be sold with a “salvaged” title and will only be able to return to the road once its repairs are made and after inspection, the vehicle is deemed “roadworthy.”