Clients often come to me after being injured in a car accident with questions and concerns about property damage. A client can make a claim on his or her own insurance for property damage if he or she has collision coverage. However, clients often do not want to do this and rather that the insurance company of the at-fault-vehicle pay for property damage repairs.
In such a case, the at-fault-driver’s insurance company has 14 days after the accident to initiate loss adjustment. In other words, an insurance company must inspect the vehicle and provide an estimate within 14 days of the accident (30 days in catastrophic loss cases). See La. R.S. 1892(A)(2).
After the estimate is complete, the responsible insurance company “must offer to settle any property damage claim, including a third-party claim, within 30 days of receipt of satisfactory proof of loss. Unreasonable failure to make an offer subjects the insurer to penalties and attorney fees under La. R.S. 22:1892(B)(1).” 15 Civil Law Treatise § 11:16 (4th ed.), p. 1127.
For example, the plaintiff was involved in a Metairie car accident. The accident was caused by another vehicle, which was insured by ABC Insurance. ABC Insurance has 14 days after the accident to obtain an estimate of plaintiff’s vehicle and investigate and verify that its insured (driver) was at fault. As long as it is confirmed that ABC Insurance’s insured was indeed at fault for the accident, ABC Insurance has 30 days from the date the estimate was done to make a reasonable offer to settle the property damage claim of the plaintiff. In most cases, the insurance company of the at-fault-driver will approve and pay for repairs within 30 days of the accident. Delays will arise when the insurance company cannot make contact with its insured; the police report cannot be obtained quickly; or, the plaintiff does not make his or her vehicle available for inspection.
Additionally, after the plaintiff is without a vehicle for 5 days, the insurance company of the at-fault driver must pay for a rental car for the plaintiff. See La. R.S. 22:1892(B)(4). The insurance company also cannot require that the plaintiff have auto repairs performed at a specific shop. The plaintiff has the right to choose where repairs are made. La. R.S. 22:1892.
If you or a loved one was injured in an automobile collision and have questions about property damage repairs, please call Lawyer Don D’Aunoy for a FREE consultation: 504-508-6414. Although his office is in Metairie, Lawyer Don represents clients throughout southeast Louisiana and makes FREE house calls.