Welcome to the next installment of our comprehensive Car Accident Property Damage: a How-to Guide.
Andrew Kryder, the founding partner and an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer at The Kryder Group, LLC Accident and Injury Lawyers created this series of videos to assist you when you have been involved in a non-injury car accident and need help to file your claim and manage the process of recovering costs caused by the accident by yourself.
While personal injury claims seek compensation for physical harm and suffering, a property damage claim focuses on the vehicle repairs or replacement costs of your car.
Learn more about documenting the damage to your vehicle when you file a claim for property damage. Capturing the extent of your vehicle’s damage post-accident to present to the insurance adjuster is a key component in the claim process.
Documenting the Damage for Your Auto Insurance Claim
This step proves the extent of your damaged property for the car insurance claim you are filing to ensure you’re fully compensated for your loss. These tips and tricks will help you to handle the claims process of a non-injury car accident independently and with confidence.
“Now that you set up your property damage claim,” Andy begins, “you need to document it. You . . . also want to document the condition of the car. Later on you might have to prove [to the claims adjuster] what condition it was in, what the mileage was, [and] things like that.”
Obtain a Police Report as Soon as Possible
“The first thing that you want to get is the police report.” A police report in a car accident provides an objective third-party account of the incident, and “it’s got a lot of information that the insurance company is going to ask for.”
“The next thing I do is take pictures of the car. You want to document the [damaged areas of the car including date and time].” He emphasizes, “The better photographs that you can take, the better.”
“One tip—take close-ups of the damage but then also take a few steps back so it shows perspective; in other words where the damage is and how significant it is.”
Get a Copy of the Estimate
“If you’re taking your car to a repair shop, make sure you get a copy of the estimate. You’re going to want that for your records later on.”
Use Traffic Camera Footage
“If there’s a dispute as to liability, you may want to consider trying to get traffic camera footage. It’s going to show the accident,” and for example, “it’s going to show who had the red light who had the green light, and firmly established that the other person is at fault—not you.”
Request Body Camera Footage
“Lastly,” Andy concludes, “some police officers who investigate an accident actually activate their body-worn camera. You can obtain that camera footage using a FOIA request and in some instances, it’s very interesting because it interviews the other person and they may be admitting fault at the scene of the accident.”
Get Every Dollar You Deserve from the Auto Insurance Policy
“All of this documentation,” Andy summarizes, “helps you document your claim and make sure you’re getting every dollar you deserve [from the insurance coverage].”
“[Start your] documentation immediately after an accident . . . because the sooner you can document your claim, the sooner you can get your car fixed or replaced.” Making sure the insurance companies involved have good documentation ensures you get a fair settlement for your personal property.