One of the questions I often get is whether or not a client can settle their property damage claim before they settle a personal injury claim. The truth of the matter is the attorney is rarely involved to a large extent with the property damage portion of the claim. In most cases, my clients resolve the property damage issue on their own, with occasional guidance from my office. Either the insurance company will offer you something fair or they won’t.
Generally speaking, when it comes to fixing your car, you are better off having your vehicle fixed by your own insurance company because they owe you a duty the opposing party’s insurance company doesn’t owe you. Therefore it is sometimes better to incur the deductible by going through your own insurance carrier. If they don’t fix your car properly, you can complain because you actually have a contract with them. They need to do an adequate job. You generally don’t have that leverage when dealing with the other party’s insurance company. If you use the other party’s insurance company to fix your car, you don’t have to pay the deductible, but you also don’t have the leverage that you might have with your own insurance company.
Settling your property damage claim should not affect your personal injury claim. As a matter of fact, it is most often that property damage claims are settled before personal injury claims. Some people think they are the same thing. Property damage is NOT a personal injury which involves an injury to the body in most cases. When settling your property damage claim, you must make sure that you’re not signing a general release. You need to make sure that whatever documents you are signing pertain only to the property damage portion of your claim. Some unscrupulous insurance adjusters will have you sign a general release and argue that you are cut off from bringing any further claim for personal injury. You need to make sure that you understand your rights and your attorney can guide you through that minefield.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and surrounding communities.