When you left for work this morning, the kids were all acting like they were in a famine because there is no milk in the refrigerator. So, in the five “spare” minutes you have on the way home, you stop at a grocery store to restock the refrigerator. You park and start to walk into the store when you are startled by an explosive crash of crinkling metal behind you. You turn to see your fears confirmed. Another car just swerved to miss a runaway shopping cart and ran directly into the side of your car! 

After the initial shock is over, you realize that this has never happened to you before, and you are not really sure what to do next. All the possible scenarios cannot be fully answered in this short article, and this information is not legal advice on a specific matter, but here are some general guidelines to keep in mind: 

  • Call the police if it is on public property, but not usually on private property, unless there are injuries.
  • Exchange insurance information and basic contact information with the other driver.
  • Contact the insurance company to report the damage. You may want to report it to your own and also to the other driver’s. The at-fault driver’s insurance will likely pay for the damage, but it may be faster to have your own pay and then it can collect from the adverse company.
  • If your car is repairable, the insurance company will recommend a repair shop. You can take it there, but have the right to take it to any reputable shop. A good shop will usually communicate directly with the insurance to get paid for their work.
  • Make sure you are satisfied with the repair, or keep having the shop get permission to fix it until it is right.
  • If it will cost more to fix your car than to replace it, that means your car is a “total loss.” The company will have a market analysis done on your car’s value. Do your own market analysis by finding “comparable” vehicles in local sources like the internet, news papers, and car sales publications. This will help you see if the offer is in the right ballpark.
  • If you and the insurance cannot come to an agreement on the repair or replacement value, then other steps will need to be taken. Those steps are a topic for another article.

For more information on property damage claims, and other aspects of accident and injury claims, please download the free publication: “Your Auto Accident Claim” from this web site. Please keep in mind that if you were also injured in the accident that damaged your car, you should probably consult with a lawyer. You can talk to the injury lawyers at Davis Miles, without charge, before deciding whether you want to hire us. That way, you only risk a little of your time.