Who Pays for Repairs After a Car Accident?

by Eric Chaffin | Last Updated: May 2, 2021

The simple answer regarding who pays for repairs after a car accident is the at-fault driver. However, depending on the circumstances surrounding the collision, it is not always that clear-cut.

If another driver is at fault for the crash, it gets even more complex if that motorist is not insured or is underinsured. If you experience difficulties in having an at-fault driver pay for repairs, a Pittsburgh Car Accident Lawyer at Chaffin Luhana can assist you.

If the accident also involved personal injury, obtaining legal counsel is critical. These claims involve medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

At-fault arguments

In addition, complications can also arise if the other driver’s insurance company does not think their client is at-fault. An at-fault driver cannot receive payments for repairs from the other driver’s insurance company.

When both insurers argue about which driver was liable— with a percentage of fault assigned to each driver– going to trial may prove the only way to resolve the issue.

Minimum insurance coverage

In Pennsylvania, the minimum amount required in property damage insurance is just $5,000, far lower than many states. That is not sufficient to pay for repairs in a seriously damaged vehicle.

Filing a lawsuit against the at-fault motorist if they are underinsured or lack insurance entirely is one option, but it doesn’t make sense if the driver has little in the way of personal assets. You may very well receive a judgment in court, but if the driver has no money and no property, collecting the amount is often an uphill battle.

Motorists with substantial assets are seldom uninsured or underinsured. Those driving illegally without insurance or purchasing the mandatory minimum generally do so because they have no money.

 

Collision coverage

If your vehicle is leased or you are making payments, the lender requires that you carry collision coverage on the car. Even if the automobile is owned outright, most drivers pay for collision insurance if the car has a reasonable value.

No matter who was responsible for the accident, the insurance company should pay to repair the damage for anyone with collision coverage, up to the policy limits. This type of insurance is considered “no-fault,” so your insurance company should pay no matter who caused the crash.

If the driver was not at-fault for the crash, this should not affect future collision coverage premiums.

Car insurance deductible

If your insurer does end up paying for the repairs via your collision coverage, that will not include the deductible. That is the amount you chose to pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in.

Many people opt for a relatively high deductible because it lowers insurance premiums. If the deductible is $1,000, and the repairs are $10,000, then the insurance company will pay only $9,000.

You could get the deductible back from the other driver’s insurance company if that person was at fault. In most cases, your insurance company will contact the other insurer for deductible reimbursement.

When both drivers are insured, it is wise to have the at-fault driver’s insurance company pay for vehicle repairs, as this will not include your deductible. However, if you need the repairs done quickly, having them done under your collision coverage is usually the best route.

Your insurance company will later pursue reimbursement with the other driver’s insurer but receiving payment may take some time. The reimbursement timeframe may run as long as two months.

The at-fault driver’s insurance may provide you with a rental car while your car undergoes repair— another consideration when deciding which entity should pay. It is vital to determine beforehand just what monies and other details you will obtain from either insurer before making your decision, along with how long car repairs will take.

Contact us today

If you or a loved one were involved in a car accident resulting from another party’s recklessness or negligence, we could help. Schedule a free consultation by calling 24/7 or contacting us online.

We will review your case and let you know your options. Because we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless we win. We also make sure that your story is told, and your injuries are no minimized because our core value is “Doing Good by Doing Right.”