Car accidents can shake you up quite a bit, even the minor ones. The worse the accident, the scarier they become. At the time of the wreck, 100% of your attention is on checking to make sure your family is safe. Afterwards, as long as no one was injured and you’ve covered your entire basis before leaving an accident, what happens after an accident can be even more stressful than the wreck, itself. The expense of time and money is enough to keep you up at night. There are alternatives to fixing your car. It’s crucial to know your options as repair might not be the best decision, financially speaking. This only matters if you own your car. If it’s a lease, you probably have to have it repaired.
What to Do Before a Car Accident
Many people don’t realize this, but the most important non-safety or car maintenance related thing you can do after an accident actually happens before your car even leaves the garage. Know your car insurance policy. This may sound obvious, but it’s often the most overlooked. After getting into a car accident isn’t the time to start reading over the fine print of your policy. Car insurance policy details like whether or not you have gap insurance, collision or comprehensive coverage and your deductible will help you make the best decisions post-wreck. But, those are the easy ones. It’s the little fine print items that make the real difference. Knowing these details can save your family thousands and save hours of running around, trying to get everyone where they need to be.
What to Do After an Accident
Let’s assume you know all of the ins and outs of your car insurance policy. Everyone is okay after the accident, and there are no medical bills to handle. The dust has settled and your formerly lovely car has been towed to a body shop. Now, you have a damaged car from an accident. The insurance company sent an adjuster out to take a look at your car and the shop did a detailed repair estimate. The good news is the car isn’t totaled. The bad news is your car has $10,000 in damage. The other good news is you only have a $1,000 deductible and the insurance company will cover the rest. It’s decision time.
Do you fix your car?
You need to decide fast. Body shops can charge up to $100 per day for storage while you decide what to do. Taking out all of the other factors like length of repair, rental car bills and replacement parts, there is one very important statistic to keep in mind. A damaged-and-repaired car can lose up to 30% of its pre-accident value. If your car had a used car value of $30,000 before your accident, it’ll could be worth $21,000 or less after it’s been repaired. If you do opt for repair. You don’t need to use the repair shop your insurance recommends. You are allowed to choose your own shop. Not all body shops are created equal. Depending on damage and what your insurance policy covers, repairing your car may not be your best option. If you own the car, you may be able to take the insurance settlement check and still sell your unrepaired car to a damaged car buyer. There online car buyers that specialize in wrecked cars. Car accidents are stressful. But, knowing your options, you can save yourself a lot of money, aggravation and your most valuable resource, time. The dismal truth is that car accidents happen a lot in the United States. Car accidents across the country cost the U.S. $230.6 billion per year – an average of $820 per person!
If you’re in the unfortunate position of having just experienced a car accident, your insurance company will start off the process by doing two things:
• Assess the amount of damage to your car (some might give a repair estimate)
• Tell you what your car was worth before the accident. This assessment is based on the year, make, model, mileage, and most recent prices for similar cars. If the cost of repairing the vehicle ends up being more than the car itself is worth, the insurance company will declare it a “total loss”. Your insurance company may or may not want to fix your damaged car. If they decide to pass on repairing it, they may give you a check for the replacement value calculated on the basis of its pre-accident condition. Once the claim is settled, two solutions are possible the insurance company will keep the damaged vehicle or they will let you keep it.
The term “totaled” is pretty straightforward and comes from the insurance term “total loss”. Your car is totaled if you’ve been in an accident and the car isn’t repairable or it costs more to repair it than what the vehicle is actually worth. What isn’t so straightforward is the value of your car after it has been totaled in an accident because it varies greatly from car to car. It’s important to understand that damage to your car can affect the value depending on the severity of the damage
A car is typically deemed “salvage” when it has been damaged in some way, like through an auto accident. An owner might determine that the car will cost more to fix than what it’s worth. Depending on what you want to do next, Utah has a set of salvage regulations that must be followed in order to get the car back on the road in a legal and safe way or to log the vehicle as unusable:
• Contact your local Motor Vehicle Commission office and disclose the state of your car. The MVC will issue a salvage title, which means a vehicle can’t be registered regularly after that point. A salvage title, or salvage certificate, is administered in place of your old car title. When your car is totaled or salvaged, you’ll need the salvage title/certificate to sell it.
• If you repair a salvage vehicle and want to put it back on the road, the state will first conduct a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection to make sure none of the component parts (or the car itself) were stolen.
• Repairing and retitling a salvage vehicle can be difficult, with a lot of paperwork involved, so be sure to keep all documents showing where you bought the parts you used to resuscitate the vehicle.
After an accident, your insurance company will deduct a “salvage value” (the estimated value of your car) from your claim settlement. The good news after so much stressful business is that you can make a profit higher than the salvage value deduction when you sell the damaged car to We Buy All Cars!
How Do I Apply For Salvage Title?
To apply for a salvage title in New Jersey, visit your local MVC office, but be sure to call ahead to make sure your office of choice processes salvage titles, and bring the following documentation:
• The certificate of title assigned to your insurance company
• Payment for the $60 title fee and $25 penalty fee, if applicable
• A completed insurance listing sheet – There is no legal bar to you selling your vehicle while the claim is ongoing; however, there are potential consequences. First and foremost; if you sell your vehicle you will only be able to recover the amount that the damage to your vehicle reduced the resale value of your vehicle. The reason for this is because your insurance is there to compensate your for any loss to the value of the insured item. This compensation is normally done through repairs; however, if the vehicle is sold that is no longer an option. The problem this creates is that it is up to you to prove the difference between what you sold it for and what you could have sold it for if not for the damage, which is difficult. If you are planning on selling your vehicle and you have a claim ongoing then contact your adjuster and they will likely be very willing to work with you in order to get an agreement quickly so you can sell the car (likely they will get an appraiser to appraise the value of the damage and then work out a settlement based on the cost to repair less some amount, usually the overhead and profit, to account for the fact that you did not get it repaired and repair costs tend to be higher than the diminished value). If you have a liability claim ongoing (someone is claiming against you) then you are going to need to give them an opportunity to examine your vehicle before you sell it. If you fail to do this then you could be guilty of “spoliation of evidence” (making evidence unavailable for inspection) which would have very negative consequences for you in defending any claim made against you. In order to prevent this you need to let your adjuster know that this is your plan so they can take the appropriate steps. The adjuster will notify the other party that you intend to sell the vehicle and will set a deadline for them to inspect it before you do so (likely a month). Once that deadline has passed you are fine to sell the vehicle. Most people know they should stop and pull over after a car accident. However, many Utah residents are probably unaware of the specific reporting responsibilities required by state law
Utah Car Accident Report Laws
It’s important to remember that you must remain at the scene of the accident after a car accident in Utah; but if possible, move your car off the road so you’re not obstructing traffic. You must also exchange information with the other drivers involved, providing your name, address, your car’s registration number, car insurance information, and (if requested) show them your driver’s license. You also have to notify law enforcement immediately and by the quickest means of communication available if the crash resulted in death, injury, or property damage to an apparent extent of $1,500 or more. Failing to do so is considered a class C misdemeanor in Utah.
How to File a Car Crash Report in Utah
After you contact law enforcement, the responding officer will conduct an investigation by speaking with all of the drivers and any witnesses who are available. Their reports must include sufficient detail to determine the cause, conditions existing at the time of the crash, and the people and cars involved in the accident. The officer must then file an electronic copy of that report with the Department of Public Safety (DPS). However, DPS may determine that more information is needed and may require any driver or witness to submit an additional report to the department within 10 days of the request. In that case, the department will supply the required form. And unless you are physically incapacitated, your license could be suspended if you fail to submit the required form. If you want a copy of your Utah car accident report, you can submit a request online. If you have been hurt in an accident, it’s normal to suffer pain and financial difficulties. You wish your life would just return to the way it was before you were injured. Dealing with pushy insurance companies with their puzzling policies can be both stressful and dispiriting to deal with.
Nervous After Your Personal Injury
The last things you want to worry about after a car accident are steep medical bills or repairing your wrecked vehicle. It’s understandable to be worried about your future after suffering an injury caused by another person. What you need is assurance you will one day make a complete recovery. Don’t worry, consult a Lawyer.
• Not getting a lien release
• Not getting the current emissions inspection certificate
Information for car sellers in Utah
If you’re selling a car in the state of Utah, you’ll need to follow these steps:
• Complete the back of the title.
• Sign the title over to the buyer.
• Give the buyer a lien release.
• Give the buyer the current emissions certificate.
• If the car is 9 years old or younger, complete the Odometer Disclosure Statement.
• Give the buyer the current registration.
• Remove the license plates from the car. These do not transfer to the new buyer.
• Notify the DMV of the sale by sending a letter including a full description of the car and your signature to the address below:
Utah Car Accident Statute of Limitations
A “statute of limitations” is a state law that sets a strict time limit on your right to bring a lawsuit to court. The statute of limitations does not apply to a car insurance claim. Any insurance company, whether your own or the other driver’s, is going to require you to make a claim or at least give the insurer notice of an incident that could trigger a claim “promptly” or “within a reasonable time” after the accident. That usually means a few days at most. Learn more about contacting your car insurance company after an accident. In Utah, there are a few different lawsuit filing deadlines that could come into play after a vehicle accident.
First, for car accident injuries, Utah Code section 78B-2-307 gives you four years to ask Utah’s civil court system for a remedy. So, in the context of a car accident, any injury claim filed by a driver, passenger, motorcyclist, bicyclist, electric scooter rider, or pedestrian will be subject to this deadline, and the “clock” starts running on the date of the accident. If anyone was killed as a result of the car accident, Utah Code section 78B-2-304 sets a two-year statute of limitations deadline for any wrongful death claim that might be brought by the deceased person’s family or representatives. And it’s important to keep in mind that for these kinds of claims, the two-year “clock” starts running on the date of the accident victim’s death (as opposed to the date of the accident itself). Finally, if anyone had their vehicle or other property damaged as a result of a car accident, Utah Code section 78B-2-305 says that any lawsuit over that damage must be filed within three years of the date of the vehicle accident.
Whichever of these deadlines applies, if you try to file your car accident lawsuit after the applicable time limit has passed, you can count on the defendant (the person you’re trying to sue) pointing out that discrepancy to the court as part of a motion to dismiss. The court will almost certainly grant the motion (unless some rare exception applies to extend the filing deadline), and that will be the end of your case. That’s why it’s crucial to understand how the statute of applies to your situation. Even if you’re confident that your case will be resolved through the car insurance claim process, you’ll want to leave yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit in case you need to if for no other reason than that you’ll have more leverage during settlement talks. If you think you might be running up against the filing deadline, you may want to contact an experienced Utah car accident attorney.
Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506
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