After being involved in a car accident, one of the things most people look forward to most is just getting their life back to normal. To be done with doctor visits, insurance paperwork and to have their car back from the repair shop. From the moment that truck slammed into you at that stop sign to the second the mechanic put your keys back in your hand; you wished it was over and behind you. Thankfully, most insurance companies want it all over and done with almost as fast as you do. In most accidents, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will work swiftly to set up appointments with adjustors and get you squared away with a rental car so that you can reclaim some sense of normalcy.
Insurance companies are set up in such a way that whenever something goes wrong, it can be handled quickly and efficiently from their end. But what does that leave you with? Mountains of paperwork written in a language that certainly no normal person can understand. Who reads all of those terms and conditions, anyways?
We do. And if you have recently been in a car accident, this blog is for you. We’ve put together this post to help you better understand collision coverage; how it works in Maryland; and what you can expect in the days and weeks following a car accident.
What is Collision Coverage?
Collision coverage pays for property damage to your insured vehicle(s) and is provided regardless of who caused the accident. Maryland law does not require you to purchase collision coverage. However, if you take out a loan to purchase your vehicle, most lenders may require you to purchase collision coverage. If you purchase collision coverage in Maryland, it will also cover you if you are driving a rental car for less than 30 days. In other words: if you have collision coverage through your Maryland automobile insurance policy, you do not need to buy the collision damage coverage or additional collision insurance when you are renting a car for less than 30 days.
How does it work?
If your vehicle is damaged in an accident in Maryland, the law allows you to recover the value of the car immediately prior to the accident. Additionally, the law allows recovery for loss of use of the vehicle for the time that it is being repaired. If the cost of repairing your car is more than the fair market value (determined by using NADA or Kelley’s Blue Book Values), then the insurance company is only going to compensate you for that fair market value. In many clear cut cases where fault is easily determined (like if someone rear-ends you at a stop sign), the at-fault insurance company will jump in and assume liability right away, oftentimes within 24 hours of the crash occurring. However, even in clear cut cases, things can get stalled and the at-fault insurance company won’t accept liability. Reasons can vary from the at-fault driver not calling his/her insurance company right away, not providing a recorded statement of the accident, convoluted insurance policy, or simply because the company decided it wants to investigate liability in the crash further.
If liability is unclear, then it’s likely neither insurance company will agree to settle any property damage claim until a formal investigation is completed. This is where your collision coverage will come in handy. While you wait for the fault to be placed, you can lean on your insurance benefits to help you get you back on the road. The downside (among other things) is that you’ll be responsible for paying your deductible (typically somewhere between $250 and $500), though you’ll likely get that money back once the property damage claim settles (as long as you weren’t at fault).
Do I need an attorney?
While it can’t hurt to have an experienced personal injury attorney help you through the inner-workings of big insurance companies, filing and settling a property damage claim in Maryland does not require an attorney. Unless your claim goes to court and requires litigation. At the very least, consider emailing or calling us just to be sure you’re getting off on the right foot and that you have all of your questions answered. In the past, Ferrante & Dill, LLC partner and Personal Injury attorney Nick Ferrante has worked for many of the major insurance companies and represented well known national retailers and trucking companies defending these types of claims. But now he works exclusively on the side of people who are injured – helping them to get compensated for the losses they have incurred as a result of someone else’s negligence. If you have been in an auto accident, please give him a call or email him today at (410) 535-6100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.