VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Hello everyone, this is Robert Mansour. We get a question here a lot at the office about property damage when it comes to personal injury cases. Now my office generally represents people who have serious injuries from automobile accidents. Sometimes the issue of property damage does come up and clients need some guidance. Here is the deal. Either they're going to fix your vehicle or they're going to offer you the amount of the total loss value of the vehicle. If your vehicle is a total loss, they're going to offer you the fair value of your vehicle, of what it was worth the day of the accident before you got hit. They're not going to give you enough money to go buy a new car. If that was the case then everybody would go get into a car accident and hope to get a new car.
Basically, if you are not being offered something fair for your vehicle, let's say they're offering you $9000 of your vehicle but you think it's worth $11000. Well if you are dealing with your company or another person's company, you need to give them reasons to offer you more. You can't just call them and say, "Hey, I want more money." That's probably not going to carry the day. What you really want to do is you want to provide them with evidence. You want to go online and search for the same type of vehicle you had, same year, same millage or as close as you can to it and try to find valuations for your vehicle. You can also try Kelley Blue Book, you can also try edmunds.com. There are a variety of valuation resources now.
Truth be told, most insurance companies do not rely on anything like Kelley Blue Book. They use outside 3rd party companies that evaluate the vehicle based on comprehensive research of the vehicles in your area, comparable vehicles in your area and also some other valuation metrics that these other companies use. Now, if you don't agree with the valuation, you need to provide your evidence to the insurance company. Send it to them. Send them a cover letter explaining why you think you should be offered more on your vehicle. You need to be able to back up your assertion with actual evidence. Now will that always work? Not necessarily. If you were still not being offered enough for your vehicle, really the only option after that is to perhaps hire a valuation expert. There are people out there who are experts in evaluating automobiles.
Now, generally speaking, a good expert will charge you anywhere from $500 to $1000 to conduct a full evaluation and appraisal of your vehicle. If you're only squabbling over a few $100 with the insurance company, it doesn't make sense for you to spend that kind of money hoping to recover roughly the same amount. Basically you might want to get an expert involved if there is a huge disparity or at least an appreciable disparity between what you are being offered and what you believe your vehicle is worth. I hope you've found this video to be helpful. Thank you very much for watching. If I could be of any service to you for your personal injury case, please don't hesitate to contact my office. Thank you very much.
If you need help after a serious car accident, give us a call at (661) 414-7100. Robert serves Santa Clarita and its surrounding communities of Valencia, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic, Canyon Country, Newhall, Saugus, and beyond.
After an accident, and if you are able, try to take photographs of every vehicle that was involved in the accident. If you have the energy at the scene of the accident and you have a camera or perhaps a cell phone that has a camera in it, take pictures – but not only of your vehicle. I have a lot of clients who bring me lots of pictures of their vehicle only. That’s fine, and that’s very helpful. However, if you can, take pictures of all the other vehicles that were involved in the accident as well.
Also, try to take pictures from several different angles because a picture is a static image. It’s two-dimensional, and sometimes it’s very difficult to assess the damage simply by looking at it from one angle. If you are viewing the vehicle damage with your own eyes, you have three-dimensional ability, and you can assess the damage a little bit better. So if you're taking a photograph, make sure to take photographs from several different angles so that you better tell the story. Also take photos in different lighting conditions because some damage may be harder to see in different light. Try to make sure your reflection or shadow isn't in the photo. That can be distracting when you are trying to convey the extent of damage. You want the insurance adjuster to understand this was more than a simple parking lot tap to your car, and the best way to do that is through photographs that really tell your story.
If you don’t have photographs, it’s tough to convince a jury or an adjuster or anybody else of the severity of the impact. Pictures really do tell a thousand words. So to the extent that you can, take many photographs. If your vehicle has already been towed to a yard, see if you can get to that yard or have a friend or a family member go to that yard and take some pictures of your vehicle. The more the merrier. There really is no limit. At the end of the day, the photos you take should be designed to convey your story to the insurance adjuster.
When it comes to personal injury cases and allegations of injury, the insurance companies indeed "judge a book by its cover." What does that mean for you? That means if your property damage doesn't look so bad, they will usually conclude the impact was minor. In many cases, my clients tell me the impact was very "hard" but it's very difficult to see the property damage. This is especially true when there is a direct rear impact. Unfortunately for your case, the insurance company will doubt your claim for injury if your property damage is insignificant - both visually and if the dollar amount is low.
This is why I often ask my clients for copies of their property damage estimate. Oftentimes, the car doesn't look so bad but then we find there is "frame damage" noted on the itemized repair estimate. There are other indicators of damage that can show up on the estimate but are hard to visually see. When there is little visible damage, pointing out such items on the property damage estimate can help persuade the insurance adjuster your accident may look minor on the surface but was actually more powerful.
If you need help with your Santa Clarita accident case, give us a call at 661-414-7100. You can also visit our "Contact" page. We serve all of Los Angeles county but focus on Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Castaic, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch and surrounding communities.
There are several factors that may affect the value of a personal injury case. That being said, there is no exact science to the evaluation of any accident case. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you analyze your case. This discussion assumes you were actually injured in an auto accident.
Here are some factors that might influence the evaluation:
1) The severity of the impact and the amount of property damage. If you have to squint to see the damage to your vehicle, you will have an uphill battle getting any sympathy from an insurance company - even if the impact felt huge! In short, if have minimal property damage, most insurance companies won't believe your injury. As a general rule, the more visible property damage you have, the more the insurance company will believe your injury.
2) The severity of the injury. Minor soft tissue sprains and strains don’t impress adjusters or juries. Therefore, if all you have is a minor soft tissue injury, you shouldn't expect a high valuation of your case. Of course, there are "degrees" of soft tissue injuries, but as a general rule, insurance companies are more likely to fight soft tissue cases. The inverse is true - the more serious your injuries (fractures, surgery performed, etc.), the more value your case will usually have. Also, how the accident affected your daily life may be considered by some insurance adjusters.
3) Your age. Simply put, the older you are, the more susceptible you are to injury. Younger people generally have a harder time convincing an adjuster they had appreciable injury. Most insurance companies believe that younger claimants are more resilient and therefore more resistant to injury.
4) Residual injury. If you have injuries that won’t resolve and are projected to last a long time (or indefinitely), it may affect the value of your case. Also, permanent injuries can affect the value of your accident case as will anything requiring surgical intervention. Injuries that appears on xrays, MRIs, CT scans, etc. may also affect the value of your case assuming they are indeed related to the accident. Pre-existing injuries to the same body parts may also affect the insurance company's opinion.
5) The Insurance Company/Adjuster - I hate to say this, but some insurance companies are notoriously stingy. Unless your head popped off your body and rolled down the street, they will almost always give you a hard time. Similarly, the insurance adjuster assigned to your case may factor into the valuation. Simply put, some adjusters are cynical and suspicious folks who think everyone is trying to scam the system while other adjusters can be more reasonable.
There are other factors, but in my experience, these are among the top considerations. If you would like an evaluation of your car accident case, give our office a call at (661) 414-7100.
A personal injury case is when the negligence of another causes you harm. Negligence occurs when someone violates their duty to use due care (i.e., failing to drive safely, obey traffic laws, etc). However, their negligence must be the cause of some harm to you. The harm has to be appreciable. If someone’s negligence causes you to get a tiny scrape on your arm, then you probably shouldn’t waste time pursuing anything. However, if the harm is appreciable (economic harm, non-economic, and/or both), then you should consult with an attorney.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,