Ask an Attorney a Question for FREE!
Time Limit for Repairs to Auto After Car Accident
I got rear ended about a month ago and have had a hard time getting my truck into the shop for an estimate on any hidden damage. The labile insurance company already senat out theri adjuster and gave me a written estimate and a check, but I haven't cashed it and need to get my shop's opinion of some needed repairs that aren't part of the initial estimate from the insurance company. Is there a time limit for getting the car looked at at the shop and/or having the repairs actually completed?
The longer you wait the harder it will be to argue that any "hidden" damage is related to the accident. There is no actual date, some states have statutes of limitations as short as 2 years, some other up to 4 years.
However, if you have hidden damage, the best thing is to go to your body shop, give your mechanic the estimate and have him go over your truck repairs. If there is any discrepancy , the adjuster and your mechanic will discuss and come to an agreement. The insurance company will usually issue a payment for the damage that was not accounted for, they call this a supplemental payment. This payment will make you whole again.
Note: the payment will not occur until the truck is actually fixed. Insurance companies want to make sure the truck is repaired before they give you more money.
This process is very common, it happens all the time. Insurance adjusters will give you an estimate and then the damage is more than they originally wrote. They send secondary payments all the time. The problems occur if the damages are a lot more than the estimate or if you wait too long and the insurance company argues that you had other damage from other accidents either before or after.
In either situation, you should get to the body shop as soon as you can and have them contact the insurance company so no other issues come up later.
--------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
Thanks so much for the quick reply.
As a follow up may I ask whether there's a way for me to
somehow get the supplemental payment as cash. Also, could I keep the first check they already gave me and then just have the shop do only the supplemental repairs? Also, in some cases, can a person get the supplemental cash by taking the insurance company to small claims court? After all the so called 'hidden' damages are just as real (and obvious to the naked eye) as the ones' they've already sent me a check for.
Thank you again,
Well, Insurance companies like to play hard ball. I am sure you know that by now. They will not issue a supplemental payment until the car is fixed. However, this does not mean that you they do not owe you for ALL your damage. As you outlined, hidden damage is damage.
You body shop needs to do a "tear down" of the vehicle, this means putting all the parts apart and actually looking to see what is broken and what the hidden damage is. Insurance companies pay for tear downs, but they don't like to. They claim that the there is no damage. The bottom line is that the owe it (some shops do it for free, some charge up to $500 depending on what is parts are they looking at).
If you can document by the bodyshop that there is more damage (hidden or otherwise), the insurance company must pay you for them. They will try to put the bodyshop's name on the check, but you can request (in writing to be paid to you only), insurance companies will do this as long as the car is paid off.
In any event, you can go to small claims court against the party that hit you, and have get a judgment for the supplemental payment. The court will order they to pay it, and the insurance company will not have any other option but to pay you. That of course, it is a last resort option, but a strong on in your arsenal.
Click here to post comments
Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Got Questions?.
Please see more answers to recent personal injury and auto accident questions below:
For a Free Review of Your Case