Nevada drivers have several options for getting money for car repairs after an accident in which another driver is at fault. They may seek to recoup the costs:
- From their own uninsured / under-insured motorist policy or collision coverage (if they have purchased either or both);
- From the other driver’s auto insurer; or
- From the other driver directly.
Ultimately, it is the responsible driver or his insurance that must compensate an innocent driver for damages, including:
- The cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle; and
- The cost of renting a vehicle similar to the damaged one.
In some cases, the responsible driver’s insurance will admit liability right away and pay immediately for the property damage to the vehicle. In others, the insurer will contest its liability and seek to evade having to pay.
An experienced Las Vegas accident attorney can greatly increase your chances of getting compensation quickly for your car repairs. Your lawyer can also make sure you receive maximum value if your vehicle is totaled.
In this article, our Nevada personal injury lawyers discuss in more detail how to get repairs to your car, truck or motorcycle paid after an accident.
- 1. What compensation am I owed after a car accident in Nevada?
- 2. Who pays for my car repair after a Nevada accident?
- 3. Do I need to report the accident to my insurer?
- 4. Will my insurance premium go up if I file an accident claim?
- 5. How do I prove property damage to my vehicle?
- 6. How is fault determined in car accidents?
- 7. What happens if my car is totaled?
- 8. What if the repairs cost more than the estimate?
If another party is at fault for an accident, he or his insurance is responsible for your damages, including:
- Compensation for medical bills,
- Property damage to your vehicle,
- A rental car similar to your own while your vehicle is being repaired or replaced,
- Lost wages,
- Lost earning capacity, and/or
- Damages for pain and suffering.
If you purchased optional collision insurance with your auto insurance, your insurer must pay your repair costs after an accident, regardless of who was at fault.
Using collision coverage is the quickest way to get your vehicle repaired. If the other party is later determined to be responsible for the accident, your insurance company will then seek reimbursement from the other party or his/her insurer.
Example: Armando is driving on the I-215 on his way home from a Las Vegas casino when he gets into an accident with a truck. Armando is not injured, but his car sustains $6,200 in damage. Armando has $25,000 in optional collision coverage with a $500 deductible. He reports the accident to his insurer, who determines the accident was not Armando’s fault. Armando recovers $5,700 for his repairs ($6,200 less his $500 deductible).
If you do not have collision insurance, you have several options for getting your car repairs paid, depending on the circumstances.
If the other driver has auto liability insurance in Nevada:
- Pay for the repairs yourself and seek reimbursement from the other party or insurance company;
- Wait until your case settles in full to repair the vehicle;
- Try to settle just the property damage of your case with the insurer, while leaving the rest of your damages (such as medical bills) subject to further negotiation.
If the other driver is uninsured:
- Sue the other driver personally or settle the claim with him or her directly; or
- If you have Nevada uninsured / under-insured motorist (“UM/UMI”) insurance, seek payment from your own insurer.
Most Nevada auto insurance policies require you to notify the insurer promptly if you are involved in an accident. If you do not notify your insurer, you may be unable to recover damages under your policy.
This can present a problem if the other driver reports the accident to his or her auto insurer. The other driver’s insurer will most likely notify your insurance company of the accident. It is usually not worth the risk of losing coverage for failing to report an accident as required under your policy.
However, there are a couple of situations in which it may make sense NOT to report an accident to your insurer:
- When you hit a stationary object other than a vehicle and the only damage is minor damage to your car that you are willing to pay for;
- When you are the only person injured and the injury (as well as property damage to either vehicle) is minor and either you or the other driver is willing to pay for any damages out of pocket.
Example: Elise is stuck in traffic on I-15 on her way home from work one evening when she gets into a minor car accident. The accident happens when Elise hits Frank’s car in front of her. Both drivers are uninjured, but Frank’s car has minor damage to the bumper, which he thinks will cost about $500 to fix.
Frank and Elise exchange contact and insurance info, but make a deal. Frank will get a repair estimate within a week. As long as the damage is less than $1,000, Elise will pay cash for it and neither driver will not report the accident to insurance. The estimate comes in at $600 and both parties keep their word. Neither insurance company ever learns about the fender bender.
Remember, however, that you are expected to comply with Nevada laws on a driver’s legal obligations after an accident. These include reporting an accident to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles if anyone is injured or there is property damage of $750 or more to any vehicle(s).1
The effect of an accident on your auto insurance premium depends on a number of factors, including:
- Who was at fault for the accident,
- How many claims you have already made on the policy,
- How long you have been with the same insurer, and
- What type of coverage you have.
Some Nevada auto insurance companies offer accident forgiveness. With accident forgiveness, the first time you file a claim for an accident that is not your fault it does not affect your rates.
However, if you have been in multiple accidents, your insurer might raise your rate or even not renew your policy even if the accident was not your fault.
Nevertheless, if the other person was injured, or there was property damage of at least $750 to the other driver’s vehicle, you are probably better off notifying your insurer and retaining an experienced Las Vegas accident lawyer to negotiate on your behalf.
If you are able, it is a good idea to take photos of the accident scene and the damage to all vehicles involved in the crash. If you do not have a cell phone capable of taking photos, you might want to keep an inexpensive digital or disposable camera in your vehicle.
If you cannot get photos right away, it is still a good idea to return to the location where the accident occurred and take pictures of the location as soon as is reasonably practical. Photos can help your lawyer and insurance adjuster understand your version of what happened.
You should also get the names and contact information of any witnesses. However, speak to them about the accident as little as possible and under no circumstances admit fault for the accident or even apologize (which can be misconstrued as an admission of fault).
You should also write down everything you can remember about the accident as soon as you are able, including:
- Where the accident occurred,
- Weather and traffic conditions,
- Direction of travel and estimated speed of both cars,
- What you were doing at the time of the accident (e.g., were you moving or stopped, were you on the phone, etc.); and
- Anything else that might help an adjuster or your lawyer get a full picture.
Both party’s insurer adjusters will conduct an independent examination of all the available evidence, including:
- Looking at your car,
- The police accident report (if any),
- Photos of the accident scene (if any),
- Photos of damage to the other vehicle,
- Repair estimates,
- Your statement to the insurer,
- Statements from witnesses, and
- Information (if any) obtained from the other driver’s insurance company.
Based on this initial investigation, the insurer will issue a preliminary finding of fault.
You have a better chance of being determined not at fault if you have retained an experienced Las Vegas personal injury lawyer to present your version of events to the insurance company on your behalf.
Remember, however, that even if you think the accident was your fault, you may be wrong. It may turn out that a traffic light was faulty, or that the other driver was texting or otherwise distracted.
Nevada law follows a comparative negligence standard in personal injury cases. Under this standard, you may be entitled to recover some of your auto repair costs even if you are partially to blame for an accident.
Example: Louis calls his lawyer after getting into a motorcyle accident at a 4-way stop. Louis had been driving west when he passes to the right of a car within his lane of traffic, a violation of NRS 486.351. He didn’t see that there was a taxi, driven by Katrina, in the intersection. He crashed into her, injuring a passenger in the vehicle and smashing the passenger-side door.
Louis reports the accident to his insurer and calls his Las Vegas motorcyle accident lawyer. The lawyer obtains video footage from the taxi, which shows that Katerina didn’t come to a complete stop at the light. Using this evidence, the lawyer is able to convince Louis’ insurer that Katerina was mostly to blame for the accident. Instead of being 100% responsible for repairs to the taxi (which cost $6,000), Louis is only 20% responsible (i.e., for $1,200). He pays the $500 deductible on his liability policy and his insurance company pays the other $700 in damage.
Your vehicle will be usually be considered a “total loss vehicle” if the cost to repair it (excluding painting) is 65% or more of the vehicle’s fair market value.2
If your vehicle is “totaled,” the insurer will then pay you the car’s fair market value of your car (up to your policy limit) minus any applicable deductible.
You do not need to actually purchase a replacement vehicle with the money. You can use it however you want. You may need to haggle, however, with the insurer to get them to agree to a reasonable “fair market value.”
An experienced Nevada accident lawyer can often help persuade the insurer to value your car for more than they otherwise would.
Example: Lisa is driving home from a concert at the MGM Grand Garden Arena when her 2010 Toyota Corolla is struck by a delivery van. Lisa is not injured, but her car is seriously damaged. The estimate to repair it is $5,000.
The delivery company’s insurer admits fault and determines that Lisa’s car is worth $6,515. Because the $5,000 to repair the car is more than 65% of $6,515, the car is considered a total loss. The insurer company offers to settle the case for $7,500 ($6,515 for the car plus a little extra for the inconvenience).
However, Lisa’s lawyer determines that the other side’s estimate is based on a purchase of comparable vehicle from a private party. Buying from a dealer would cost up to $9,000. However, this would put the repairs below the 65% mark. The insurer could then elect to have the car repaired.
Lisa would rather have cash to use as a down payment on a new car. Her lawyer convinces the delivery company’s insurer to total the car and pay Lisa a total settlement of her claim in the amount of $10,000.
Usually, the estimate will include all the damage to your vehicle. Occasionally, however, additional damage may be discovered after the body shop starts working on your car.
If you are using a repair shop approved by the responsible insurer, they will have a working relationship and will resolve the issue.
If you use a repair shop that is not in their network, you will have to negotiate with the insurer for the additional costs, or get the repair shop to accept less money.
A lawyer can help with these negotiations so that you don’t end up out-of-pocket.
Involved in a car accident in Las Vegas? Call us for help…
If you were in a motor vehicle accident in Clark County, our Las Vegas auto accident attorneys may be able to help you recover compensation for repairs to your vehicle and for your injuries. (If your case is in California or Colorado, please see our pages on car repair bills after a California accident or getting car repair bills paid after a Colorado accident.
To schedule a free consultation to discuss your case, call us or fill out the form on this page.
We will fight to get you the biggest settlement possible so that you can receive compensation for all your injuries, including property damage to your vehicle.