Baltimore Car Accident Repair Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re wondering what to do after a car crash in Maryland, your first priority should always be your health and making sure you obtain the necessary treatment for your injuries. However, the reality is that you often need to deal with what happens to your car after a Maryland accident. The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are here to help!
Our team of Baltimore car accident lawyers has compiled a list of answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive regarding Maryland car accident repairs, to help provide a better idea of what to expect.
Free consultations and claim evaluations are available to review any additional questions regarding a Maryland car accident case, and there are never any fees or expenses unless you decide to hire our lawyers and we win your case. Call 1-800-522-0102 or click here to schedule an appointment to speak with a member of our team. We are here to help.
Maryland Car Accident Towing and Storage FAQs
Depending on the severity of your car accident and injuries, your vehicle may need to be towed from the scene and stored until repairs are evaluated. It is important to understand your rights and who is responsible for these costs.
Where is my car towed after a Maryland accident?
After a car accident, often a vehicle gets towed if it is undrivable. Where the car gets towed depends on the location of the crash, as well as the towing company that arrives to pick up the car.
In most Maryland counties and municipalities, the responding police officer will call a tow company from a list of regularly used tow trucks. The tow operator will then remove your disabled vehicle from the scene of the accident and transport it to either their own lot or that county’s vehicle storage yard.
After an accident in Baltimore City, among other municipalities, you have the option to have your crashed vehicle towed by a company of your choice, to a location that you choose. This also means that you may be able to use your roadside assistance subscription or coverage offered by your insurance company. Using your own roadside assistance service may lead to lower upfront costs. This is because you may be entitled to a discounted towing rate as part of your subscription or coverage, and you may choose to tow the vehicle to your home, which means that you will not incur any storage fees. While at home storage after a car accident is often not an option if you do not have a place to store the damaged vehicle, you may choose to tow the vehicle to a Maryland repair shop of your choice, which may not charge storage fees if they are authorized to repair the vehicle.
If your vehicle is towed by a company contracted by the city or county, you may be responsible for the towing fees as well as the lot storage fees, which may accrue daily.
Who pays for my car towing and storage fees?
If you were involved in a Maryland accident that was not your fault, ultimately the individual responsible for causing the crash and their insurance company must pay for all of the damages that resulted from the accident, including towing fees, storage fees, car rental, and the cost to repair or replace your car. However, at least immediately after the car crash, you may be asked to pay for car storage and towing if the accident is still under investigation, or the insurance company for the at-fault vehicle does not accept liability.
Unfortunately, in some cases, it can take several days or weeks for the insurance company to complete a Maryland accident investigation and agree to pay for car towing and storage fees. During this time, you have a duty to mitigate or limit your damages, even if the accident was caused by another person’s negligence. This means that all reasonable steps should be taken to avoid unnecessary costs associated with the towing, repair, or storage of your vehicle, and to limit car rental expenses.
Immediately following a crash, you have three options available for car’s towing and storage fees:
Option 1: Depending on the insurance policy for your car, accident towing and storage fees can often be paid immediately under your own collision coverage.
If you paid for this full accident coverage and the insurance company for the at-fault driver has not accepted liability, you should submit the property damage claim through your insurance carrier to minimize daily storage fees and get back on the road as soon as possible. Your insurance company will immediately start the process of taking care of your damaged vehicle as soon as it is towed, and then your insurance company can seek reimbursement from the individual who caused the crash or their insurance company.
Option 2: If you do not have collision coverage, you can pay the car towing and storage fees yourself, and our Baltimore accident lawyers will present those damages for reimbursement. Often you will be reimbursed within only a few days or weeks.
This option will allow you to get your car out of storage faster after a Maryland accident, and minimizes expensive daily storage fees. In the event there is a prolonged insurance investigation, paying to get your vehicle out of storage also avoids any later arguments by the insurance company that you are partially responsible for these charges because you failed to “mitigate your damages”.
Option 3: Finally, you can elect to wait for the at-fault party’s insurance company to pay for car accident towing and storage fees. However, the insurance company will not make any payments to the storage company or towing company until after their investigation is complete.
If your vehicle is incurring storage expenses during this investigation, it is important to mitigate or limit your damages, by taking reasonable steps to move your car to a location where unnecessary costs will not be incurred.
Maryland Accident Car Repair FAQs
With nearly 100,000 car accidents happening in Maryland every year, many find themselves rushing to find a qualified repair shop while questioning whether they will be impacted financially. Understanding your rights in Maryland to have a vehicle repaired at the shop of your choice is important to know immediately following an accident.
How do I get my car repaired after an accident?
In some situations, navigating the process of getting your vehicle repaired after a Maryland car accident can be complex, especially if there is a liability dispute, insurance coverage issue, or substantial damage to your vehicle. The Baltimore car accident lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. can help make sure:
- Your car is fixed at a qualified and reputable repair shop;
- The insurance company pays for all appropriate car repairs to return your vehicle to the condition it was in before an accident in Maryland;
- Secure a rental car after the Maryland accident while your vehicle is being repaired or during the reasonable time it takes to purchase a new car;
- Obtain compensation for any car diminution in value following Maryland accident repairs
- Negotiate a total loss settlement under Maryland law when the cost of repairs will exceed the value of the vehicle;
There are no additional attorney fees for our Baltimore car accident lawyers to assist with your property damage insurance claim unless it is necessary for a lawsuit to be filed to secure compensation for your car repairs, rental costs, diminished value of your car, or other property damage.
Getting your car fixed after an accident in Maryland is usually pretty straightforward. However, when things get complex, having our experienced law firm on your side will help make sure you receive all of the property damage compensation you are entitled to receive.
Can I choose who repairs my car after an accident?
As the vehicle owner, you have the right to choose where to get your car fixed after an accident in Maryland. Some insurance companies may provide you with a list of approved body shops or mechanics, but ultimately they are responsible to cover the full amount of fair and reasonable vehicle repairs caused by the negligent driver.
After the insurance adjuster conducts an inspection of your car damage and provides a full estimate for the car repairs, most auto-body shops will accept this amount as payment in full for the work. If the car repair shop determines that there are additional damages not initially recognized by the insurance company, the mechanic or auto-body shop will provide additional supporting documentation to supplement the insurance car repair estimate, or the insurance adjuster may re-inspect the vehicle.
Throughout the handling of your car repairs, our Maryland personal injury attorneys are available to help guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have.
Is there a time limit for a Maryland insurance company to get my car fixed after an accident?
Maryland law does not set any specific time limit on how long the insurance company can take to authorize or complete car repairs after an accident. A number of different factors will influence how long it takes to get your car repaired, including whether you have your own insurance company handle the repairs or pursue a property damage claim through the insurance company for the car that caused the accident.
While many individuals are hesitant to submit a claim for car repairs through their own insurance, this process is much faster and allows your car repairs to start almost immediately. As long as you have collision coverage on your Maryland automobile insurance policy, your car will be repaired as soon as it is inspected and the repair shop estimate is approved. You may need to pay a deductible, but if the accident was not your fault, that money will be refunded after liability is accepted by the at-fault party’s insurance company. Otherwise, our lawyers will pursue reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses as part of your legal claim.
If you pursue vehicle repairs through the insurance company for the car that caused your accident it can take longer, as the insurance company has the right to conduct an investigation to confirm liability and determine who is at fault for the crash. While this must be completed within a reasonable amount of time, Maryland accident law does not specify what amount of time is considered reasonable.
Unfortunately, following a complex car crash in Maryland, it may take the at-fault party’s insurance company several weeks, or even months, to authorize car repairs if they need to obtain the police report, speak with witnesses or review any available footage. However, our Baltimore accident lawyers have experience pushing the insurance company through this process to make sure your car is repaired as soon as possible.
Who pays for my car repairs if I didn’t cause the crash?
If your car was damaged in a crash that was not your fault, it is ultimately the responsibility of the negligent driver or their insurance company to pay for the car repairs. There are two options available for immediate payment of the car repairs after the accident.
Option 1: The car repairs are often paid directly by the insurance company for the driver who caused the accident. It often only takes a few days for the insurance company to complete their investigation and authorize the repairs up-front. The insurance company will often just issue payment directly to the repair shop.
Option 2: If you have Maryland accident collision coverage, car repairs can be paid immediately by your insurance company, which will then seek reimbursement from the at-fault insurance company or directly from the negligent driver that caused the crash. While you may have to pay a deductible, this amount will be refunded once your insurance company obtains reimbursement, and utilizing this coverage does not directly impact your Maryland insurance rates.
Will my car be worth less after repairs following the accident?
After any damage is done to your vehicle in an accident, the car loses value. Even if the damage is fully repaired, the value of your car will decrease. If evidence can be presented to document a drop in car value, an additional claim can be submitted to the insurance company, which is known as a car diminished value claim.
Maryland law does recognize accident diminished value claims, and our accident attorneys can help explain the type of documentation that is necessary to establish that your car is worth less after an accident. However, as the vehicle owner, you will have the burden of proof to establish a Maryland diminished value claim. This may include an appraisal and expert testimony that can be presented in court.
Unfortunately, in most situations, the cost associated with documenting and establishing that your car is worth less after repairs following a Maryland accident will exceed the amount you could hope to recover. However, our Maryland accident lawyers can help review whether you may have a viable diminution in value claim.
Accident Car Rental Coverage FAQs
When a vehicle is deemed un-drivable after a car accident due to safety reasons, many Marylanders are left wondering how they will handle daily tasks such as commuting back and forth to work, picking children up from school or daycare, or performing other daily driving routines. Understanding your rental car options and who is responsible for the costs is important.
Can I get rental car coverage after an accident that’s not my fault?
Yes. If the accident was not your fault, you are entitled to rental car coverage until your vehicle is repaired or payment is made for a total loss. In addition to car rental coverage, you may also be entitled to reimbursement for costs associated with alternative transportation, including taxi cabs, Uber, or Lyft rentals.
It is important to keep all receipts for those services and remember that you do have a “duty to mitigate” your damages. This means that even if the accident was not your fault you should take all reasonable steps to minimize your damages and avoid unnecessary expenses.
While your vehicle is being repaired, a rental car is often the fastest and lowest cost option for providing temporary transportation. In most situations, the insurance company will agree to pay for your car rental after an accident, or our Maryland accident lawyers can seek reimbursement. However, it is important to rent a car that is the same class or type of vehicle as the one damaged in the accident. It is also important that you ask the car rental company for the “insurance rate,” as this will notify them that you will be seeking reimbursement from the insurance company for the responsible party, and it will deter the car rental company from offering any additional services/fees that may not be necessary for your situation.
Who pays for the rental after a car accident?
The insurance company for the at-fault driver is ultimately responsible to pay for the car accident rental, in addition to all of the other damages caused by the accident, such as car repairs, medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, as is explained above, sometimes the insurance company will not immediately reach a coverage or liability decision, which may delay getting you an authorization for the car rental, even after a car accident that was not your fault.
If the insurance company does not immediately agree to accept liability for the accident, they may not pre-authorize the car rental. However, there are still options available, and the Maryland accident lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. can help.
If you have car rental coverage through your automobile accident insurance policy, you can immediately obtain a rental car and your insurance will be reimbursed once the liability is accepted. While you may have to pay a deductible under your policy, that amount will be reimbursed once payment is made by the at-fault insurance company.
In some situations it may be necessary to obtain a rental car on your own, potentially putting the car rental fees on a credit card or short-term loan. In many cases, our Maryland car accident lawyers are able to get the at-fault driver’s insurance company to cover the rental car before the credit card payment is due.
How long will insurance pay for a car rental after an accident?
After a Maryland car accident, insurance should pay for a rental car until the repair work is complete, or for a reasonable amount of time needed to purchase a new vehicle if your car has been totaled. In most situations, this is limited to 3 to 5 days after the insurance company makes an offer for your totaled vehicle. Under Maryland law, there is no defined amount of time that the insurance company must pay for the car rental, and the adjuster will do what they can to provide the minimum amount of rental coverage
It is always important to keep in mind, even if the accident was not your fault, you still have a “duty to mitigate” your damages. Therefore, you should take every opportunity to limit the amount of time you keep the accident car rental and avoid unnecessary rental fees or expenses.
Total Loss FAQ and Calculating Value of Totaled Car in Maryland
Insurance companies have specific calculations for determining whether a vehicle should be repaired. Understanding how, and who is able to make those final decisions could impact your car accident property damage payout.
What happens when your car is totaled in a Maryland accident?
The insurance company can declare your car a total loss after a Maryland accident if it will cost more to repair the vehicle than it is worth. The Maryland total loss threshold allows a car to be totaled when the cost to repair the damage exceeds 75% of the vehicle’s fair market vehicle.
After your car is totaled in a Maryland accident, the insurance company will make a payout and essentially buy the damaged car from you for the amount it was worth immediately before the accident.
Following a Maryland total loss accident, you do have the option to keep your vehicle and will receive a total loss payout minus the “salvage” value of the damaged parts you are keeping. However, you can not legally drive a car that was totaled on Maryland roadways until the damage is repaired and you submit a Maryland Safety Inspection Certificate to the MVA, and receive a Rebuilt Salvage title.
How is the total loss on a car calculated under Maryland law?
There is no defined formula for calculating the value of a totaled car in Maryland. The insurance company must reimburse you for the fair market value of the vehicle immediately before the damage done in the accident.
In most cases, the total loss calculation is pretty straightforward. Keep in mind that the insurance company does not have to reimburse you the amount the vehicle was worth to you (i.e. what you personally would have sold it), but can establish the fair market value by comparing your car to similar vehicles in the area using make, model, mileage, general condition and other factors that influence the selling price in the region.
In some cases, additional evidence can be submitted during the Maryland accident total loss settlement negotiations to establish that your vehicle had a higher value than the offered amount. If you are unable to agree on a total loss payout amount, the property damage portion of your claim can be pursued through the court system by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
How long does it take to receive my insurance total loss payout?
Once a decision is made that a car was totaled in a Maryland accident, the total loss payout is usually made within only a few days or weeks. If you have a clear vehicle title, the insurance total loss payment will be issued directly to you, as the vehicle owner. However, if you still owe money on the vehicle, the insurance company is required to pay off the lien on the vehicle before releasing any remaining funds to the vehicle owner.
If there is a delay in reaching a decision to total a car or issue the total loss payout, you are entitled to a rental car or reimbursement for alternative travel expenses for a reasonable period of time to secure another car. However, once the insurance company makes a total loss offer, be aware that the rental car coverage may be terminated within a few days.
What if my car is totaled and I owe more than the car is worth?
Under Maryland law, the at-fault insurance company is required to cover the costs of repairing your vehicle or pay the fair replacement cost. If the repairs exceed 75% of the vehicle value, the insurance company may declare your car a “total loss” after a Maryland accident. In this case, they will pay the “actual cash value”, and the insurance company will take possession of the damaged car.
The actual cash value of a car damaged in an accident is based on the fair market value of your specific vehicle at the time of the crash. However, this will not be impacted by how much you paid for the car or any expenses you took on to purchase the vehicle, such as financing expenses.
Unfortunately, in some cases, the amount owed on a vehicle loan is higher than the actual cash value of a totaled car. This is often referred to as being “upside down on your car loan” or “underwater.”
If you have GAP insurance coverage, that policy will pay the difference between your vehicle’s current value and what you may owe on the car in the event of an accident that renders it a total loss. It is usually offered by car dealerships and finance companies when purchasing a vehicle. However, GAP coverage may also be offered by your auto insurance company.
Can I keep my totaled car after a Maryland accident?
Yes, you do have the option to keep your vehicle even after it has been considered a total loss in Maryland. However, you will not be able to legally drive your vehicle on Maryland roadways until the damage is repaired and you submit a Maryland Safety Inspection Certificate to the MVA and receive a Rebuilt Salvage title indicating that the vehicle was once declared a total loss.
When should I hire an attorney after a Maryland car accident?
After an automobile accident, it is important that you seek medical attention immediately. Your next important step should be to call an experienced Maryland auto accident attorney.
The laws governing automobile accidents in Maryland are complex and the insurance companies (even your own) are not on your side. To get the compensation you deserve for your injuries, pain and suffering, and property damage you need an attorney with decades of experience successfully handling auto accident claims in Maryland.
The lawyers at Saiontz and Kirk are available to answer any questions you may have regarding a Maryland auto accident, please do not hesitate to reach out by calling us at 1-800-522-0102 or schedule a free case consultation using the form below.