Written by attorney James Bergener

Handling Your Property Damage Claim in California

If you were in an accident and sustained property damage there are certain things you should know about insurance companies and how they operate. First off, insurance adjustors are highly trained and will use every legal means at their disposal to pay you as little as possible.

As an accident victim, you can pursue reimbursement either through your own insurance company or through the insurance company of the at-fault party. Either way, be sure to get an independent written estimate of all damages. Never sign anything, agree to a taped phone call, or in-person interview with an insurance adjuster without first consulting an experienced personal injury attorney.

Bergener Mirejovsky is happy to give you a free consultation, even if you’re not sure if you have a case. Our skilled lawyers can help you determine if you have a sufficient claim and advise you on the necessary steps to move forward.


If your vehicle was rendered inoperative and you need to rent a car through your insurance plan, you don't have to accept the $20 or $25-per-day rental allowance. Instead, you may be entitled to the fair rental value of the car that was damaged in the accident.

Another way to save money is car storage fees. If your car had to be towed and is stuck in storage, you may still be charged the expensive storage fees. It’s best to remove your vehicle from storage as soon as possible, since you probably won't be reimbursed for the related fees.


If your car was totaled and the cost of repairs is more than the value of your car, you'll need to negotiate the worth of the totaled car with the insurance company. Your fair value price may differ drastically from your insurance company’s estimate. Nonetheless, you have the right to a fair settlement. That means you can seek the money you'll need to buy a similar car, or a similar model to your old one. Ideally, you would have accurate records of any past maintenance and repairs, which will factor into the actual cash value for your replacement car.

If you don't agree with the insurance company's offer, you may want to hire an independent appraiser to work with the insurance company's appraiser. If you still can't agree on a fair value for your totaled car, consulting an independent arbitrator or a property damage attorney may be the next best option. Lastly, if you can't find a similar car using the settlement amount within 35 days of your settlement, demand a written notice of what's required of you to reopen your claim. An experienced accident attorney can help you to negotiate a fair price for your totaled car.

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