The other day I had someone reach out to me and ask me a question because he had recently been in a wreck. He’s got a motorcycle accident lawyer already, but his question was about property damage on his bike and how the property damage insurance claims process works. Can he get a check or does he have to give it to the lawyer?
I wanted to take that opportunity to explain property damage a little bit more, especially for those who have been lucky enough not to have been in an accident in Atlanta yet. Just so you know how to handle it if you are in an accident at some point, and you’ve got damage to your bike.
How Does Spaulding Injury Law Handle Property Damage Claims in Atlanta?
The answer to the question for him was, “…well, you know, you need to talk to your lawyer. It depends on the agreement you have with your lawyer.” The way we handle it is that we never charge for property damage.
If we are helping with it as part of the overall injury case, we do that for free, whatever you get for the property damage. So, if it’s a total loss, you’re getting a check from the insurance company.
Oftentimes, the check will come to us and we will actually forward it to the client. If it comes to the client directly, you take it, and you’re off and running.
You’ve got to figure that out with the lawyer and what your agreement is. My argument would be you should never cut a deal with a lawyer where they’re going to take a portion of your property damage claim. They ought to be willing to do it like us, where they just do it for free as part of the overall representation of you in the accident.
Can You Handle A Property Damage Claim Without An Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
I also want to take this opportunity to talk a little bit more about the types of property damage claims in Atlanta and how to handle them, because quite frankly you can handle it on your own. It’s very rare you would need to get a lawyer involved.
There are two potentials that happen in the property damage realm, and that is it’s either going to be fixed, or it’s going to be deemed to be too expensive to be fixed based off of the value, and it’s going to be totaled.
Most insurance companies have a 50% ratio when they decide whether it is totaled or repaired. So if the repairs are 50% or more of the value of the vehicle, they’ll just total it out. Some like USAA total it out at 75%-ish. Some of them are a little bit better and they’ll cover more of the repairs and not total it.
That’s one thing to keep in mind between guessing on what the insurance company’s likely to do. If they’re going to repair it — you know by the way, I always tell folks – run it through the at-fault party’s insurance first, because if you run it through yours, you’re going to have a deductible, and you pay that up front. You’ll get it back eventually, but it could be a year or more before you get it back.
Why have that out-of-pocket cost when you can run it against the at-fault? What I also tell folks is if the at-fault insurance company isn’t going to treat you right, they’re undervaluing the bike, they’re not willing to do proper repairs with good OEM parts, not aftermarket parts, not repaired parts – just end it with them. In that situation, it’s worth it to go with your insurance company and spend that deductible. Otherwise, work with the at-fault insurance company and get it done.
What’s A Fair Settlement For A Motorcycle Accident Claim Involving A Totaled Bike?
If it’s totaled, you’re going to want to get at least three appraisals so you can calculate the average settlement amount for your motorcycle accident claim. You can do it yourself, so you don’t spend any money. In fact, Kelley Blue Book, edmunds.com are good sites. I think TrueCar now is a good one, as well. I would get a bunch of those and find out based off of mileage, condition, any additions you have to the bike, what’s the value of that bike the moment before the wreck?
That is what you have a right to, and you want to get these estimates, average it out, and that’s what your goal is, to shoot for a number right around that range.
Those are good tips considering property damage and again, be careful on the agreements that you reach with lawyers on. Are they taking a cut of your property damage? You need that money for a new bike or to repair the bike, not to spend it on a lawyer. Attorneys can help victims reach motorcycle accident verdicts or settlements in cases involving serious injuries, but you can handle this type of case on your own.
For over 15 years, Mr. Spaulding has helped victims of negligence across the state of Georgia resolve personal injury disputes, and he’s received a remarkable number of awards and honors from the legal community recognizing his commitment to clients and to the metro-Atlanta area.
As an undergraduate, Mr. Spaulding belonged to the Phi Beta Kappa honors fraternity at the University of Georgia, and he obtained his legal training at the Georgia State College of Law, where he clerked for the Honorable Judge Rowland Barnes of the Fulton County Superior Court. Mr. Spaulding has also worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Atlanta Enforcement Division. Since 2005, he has dedicated his career to helping the injured victims of negligence and their loved ones win justice in Georgia’s personal injury courts.