We often are asked the question… what are my rights regarding property damage after an auto collision?
In Ohio the law is very clear regarding the damages that you are to be compensated for by the driver who was negligent. The law is that the negligent driver has to put the injured party in the same position that he/she found him/herself immediately prior to the auto collision. So, simply, the negligent driver must repair your car after the auto collision.
Insurance companies often try to cut corners when their insured is negligent and they are the ones left with the bill to repair your vehicle. If the other driver is negligent, here are a few things to remember when trying to negotiate with insurance companies:
1. You have the right to take your vehicle to any repair shop that you choose. The responsible party will typically request that you get two estimates and as long as they are similar, it does not matter where you take the vehicle. The negligent parties’ insurance company will typically try to get you to use a “preferred” repair shop. There are repair shops that use after-market parts and perform repairs in a potentially inferior way, so do your research, and make sure you choose a shop that you trust, not just the “preferred” shop. If you spent a lot of money to own a BMW you would want to take your vehicle to a shop where they will use genuine BMW parts and not cheap after-market parts.
2. You may need a rental vehicle for when your car is in the shop and you are absolutely entitled to one. If the collision was your fault, then your insurance company may tell you what your allowance per day would be for a rental vehicle. Those amounts are part of the limits in your own auto insurance policy. If the other driver is at fault, that negligent parties’ insurance company may tell you that they can only spend a certain amount of money for a rental vehicle, but that is not the law and is simply a tactic used by insurance companies to save a little money. If you are driving your new minivan and someone rear ends you, and the insurance company for the negligent driver tells you they are going to put you in an old compact car… your response should be no, I am entitled to a similar car to the one I was driving, so I want a minivan.
If the negligent party doesn’t have insurance coverage (which they are required to carry under Ohio law), your own insurance policy will cover repair costs. You will want to consult your own policy to see what type of coverage and limits you have in place. In the event that the negligent driver does not have insurance, or is underinsured, your policy will determine the amount of funds that are available to repair your vehicle. Follow this link to the Ohio State Bar Association’s information page: Know about Varieties of Ohio Automobile Insurance Coverage for additional information about types of coverage.
If you have additional questions about property damage or your rights under Ohio law, contact the attorneys at Thomas Law Group.