You have been in a car accident in Albuquerque, and it wasn't your fault. How are you going to get your car damages repaired?
New Mexico law gives you rights against the person at fault and their insurance company. But delays in the claims process may mean that you are driving around with a damaged car for weeks after the wreck. What can be done to speed up this process so you can get your vehicle fixed.
Because Caruso Law Offices only handles personal injury and wrongful death cases, we run into this problem almost every day. Here is my advice as a personal injury and wrongful death attorney with 31 years experience. I would be happy to give you more advice during a free consultation. Just call me at 505-883-5000.
First, you need to understand that most of the time the officer will not give you the name of the insurance company and policy number for the at fault driver at the scene of the collision. The officer will give you a police report number and tell you that the report will be available in 7 to 10 days. This creates the first problem of delay.
If you have collision/comprehensive on your vehicle with your own insurance company, you should immediately begin the vehicle damage claim by reporting the accident to your own insurance company. The phone number to the claims office and your policy number should be on your proof of insurance you carry in your car.
Let your insurance company know that you want them to begin the property repair process. Let them know that you do not want to wait for the at fault person's insurance. Do not let your insurance company intimidate you into waiting to deal with the at fault person's insurance.
For instance you might be told that you will need to pay a deductible if you go thru your insurance company but no deductible if you go thru the at fault person's insurance. This is true. But as we explain below, the timing should work out that you don't need to pay the deductible. And even if you do pay it, you will get it back almost immediately after the at fault person's insurance gets copies of the repair bills.
You might also be told that your rates will go up. This is a lie. New Mexico law prohibits your own insurance company from raising rates or, cancelling you so long as the accident report states that the accident was not your fault.
The "property damage adjuster" will take a short statement of what happened in the accident and instruct you on how to proceed on getting estimates.
Some insurance companies require you to get 2 or 3 estimates, while others will want you to make an appointment with them to physically inspect your vehicle. Regardless of the amounts of the estimates, your insurance company will be required to pay for all the repairs to your vehicle less the deductible.
Now here is where it gets interesting. While you are getting your vehicle repaired, probably 7 to 10 days has passed and the accident report is now available. You need to get a copy of the accident report.
The accident report will state the name and contact information of the driver and owner of the at fault vehicle and the name and policy number for the at fault driver's insurance. You need to immediately telephone the insurance company. They will take your statement and ask you to fax them a copy of the accident report.
You need to let the property damage adjuster for this insurance company know that your vehicle is currently being repaired, where it is being repaired and the amount of the anticipated repairs. You will need to also fax this adjuster a copy of your estimates or appraisals you received from your own insurance company.
You were able to get the process started using your own insurance company, and finished the repair to your vehicle using the at fault driver's insurance.
Unfortunately, if you don't have collision/comprehensive insurance you will need to wait until you get the accident report before you have any idea who to contact about the repairs to your vehicle.
If you need any assistance on your property damage claim or personal injuries resulting from the collision, please contact Caruso Law Offices at (505) 883-5000. We only handle personal injury and wrongful death claims. That's all we do. This lets us focus our entire law firm on just one type of law--Personal Injury and Wrongful Death.
Mark Caruso has been an attorney for 31 years. We have 2 offices in Albuquerque to serve you...Northeast Heights (Montgomery and Carlisle) and Westside (Coors and I-40). We also represent clients statewide.
Call us at (505) 883-5000 for a free consultation with Mark Caruso or another attorney at our personal injury and wrongful death law firm. The consultation is confidential and without obligation. We can meet with you at either office or at your home, work or hospital. We can also meet you after hours and on Saturdays.
We look forward to hearing from you.
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