Claiming for motor vehicle property damage following a motor vehicle accident

Contributed by ChristianFoyle and current to 27 July 2018

Recovery of damages

Following a car accident, two kinds of claim may arise. These are:
  1. claims for property damage, such as damage to cars, motor cycles, clothing, luggage etc); and
  2. personal injury claims due to any injury caused by the accident.
There are differences between property damage and personal injury claims. Different insurance policies apply to different types of claims. Often, the extent of personal injuries suffered will be unclear for some time as it generally takes a while for an injured person to reach medical stabilisation (broadly speaking the point in your medical treatment beyond which you are not expected to get any better (or worse)), whereas the cost of repairing a motor vehicle will be apparent and can be assessed soon after the accident.

Property damage - what does a person do after their vehicle has been damaged?

After a person’s vehicle has been damaged in an accident, they must decide on a course of action to have the vehicle repaired and the damages paid for. There are generally three options open:
  • claiming on own insurance policy;
  • paying own costs of repair; or
  • claiming the cost of repair from the other party.
In deciding which of these courses to adopt a number of factors must be considered, including whether or not the person is insured and, if so, what type of insurance policy covers the vehicle.

These alternatives will now be examined in some detail. Note that the person may choose to pay their own repair costs at first and then seek to recover them from the other party. A person may do this to get the vehicle back on the road quickly and to mitigate losses suffered as a result of the motor vehicle accident. However, it is important to check that the other person has sufficient income to reimburse the owner. Further, the owner should check that the repairs are reasonable (both as to what repair is required as a result of the accident and the cost), as this may be challenged by the other party.

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