Most Americans are dependent on their cars in this day and age. This is due to several different factors, including the issue of commuting. While some people are lucky enough to live within walking or bicycling distance of their workplaces, most are far enough from them that they need to drive. While public transportation is an option in some cases, it is inaccessible for many who live in rural areas.

Even those that can use it must deal with longer travel times, and have their schedules at the mercy of a bus route that may or may not be operating on time. A lack of a car can also affect how regularly a person can get the groceries that they need, and go to necessary appointments.

With that being said, some cars are more reliable than others. Vehicles can be damaged under a variety of different circumstances. Regular wear and tear can certainly cause a car to slowly build up to more serious damage over time. This is entirely separate from the damage that can occur due to accidents or vandalism.

However, some damage is so seemingly minor that a car owner may actually ignore it, or miss it entirely. They may also be tempted to put off necessary repairs as long as a car is technically operable because car repairs can sometimes be expensive. In these cases, there are other factors to consider. For one thing, in some circumstances repairs may be covered by the driver’s insurance policy, or in the case of accidents the offending alternate driver. For another, it can be more expensive in the long term to put off repairs.

Because these issues build up over time, the ultimate repairs after delays are more expensive than the initial repairs would be. The last thing a driver would want is for their car to end up among the 250 billion pounds of scrap material processed by the U.S. annually. It’s important to have a system in place whenever a car is damaged, to ensure that is properly cared for.

1. Have the Damage Assessed Professionally

No matter how the damage to a car occurs, ultimately it needs to be assessed by a professional. While some drivers may be more familiar with the mechanics of cars than others, nobody understands them quite as well as a professional mechanic.

A damaged car should be taken to an auto body shop. Most will offer assessments free of charge or for a nominal fee, and then will offer a summary of fees based on their prices. While some mechanics may overcharge, many can source refurbished parts for replacements, and offer competitive rates.

The more experienced driver may be able to make their repairs for less money. However, if they make mistakes, the ultimate repairs may be quite expensive. Needless to say, this not nearly as much of a concern if the repairs are merely cosmetic.

2. Stay On the Scene After the Accident

When in a multi-car accident that is relatively minor, or seemingly minor, some drivers may be tempted to leave the scene without calling a police officer. This is possible in some cases, as long as insurance information is exchanged. However, it’s often better to wait until a police officer is called. This way, the driver at fault can be more easily established. For that matter, while one or both drivers might assume that they have made it through the accident without an injury, they should be assessed by medical professionals, or at least a police officer with medical training. Some injuries are invisible.

Leaving the scene of an accident can be construed as a hit and run, and in some cases, officers may also want to ensure that nobody was driving under the influence. The CDC reports that 1.8% of California’s 26 million licensed drivers have confessed to driving after drinking too much. This means that verifying that all parties were not driving under the influence is an important part of assessing an accident. This factor can certainly play into the next.

3. Consider a Personal Injury Case

Whenever another person is or could be at fault for the damage of a vehicle, a personal injury lawsuit must be at least considered. This can apply to on-the-road car accidents, as well as other circumstances in which a person may have caused damage to a parked car. Some lawsuits may even be pursued after a car is serviced or repaired incorrectly by an auto body shop. A personal injury lawsuit would be pursued for the offended party to receive compensation for the damage made to their car.

Many of them do not make it to trial, with around 96% of all personal injury cases being settled pre-trial. These settlements can often cover the repairs for the car entirely. It’s important for those who have been in accidents or had their cars damaged in another way involving an alternate party to wait to pay for the damage.

If they’ve waited to file a personal injury claim against the other party, they may very well be able to have the other party’s insurance for the damages. A personal injury attorney can often give a better idea of whether or not a claim could be valid. Ideally, the other party’s insurance will settle the claim fairly easily, but this is not always the case.

There are a lot of issues that can occur when having a car repaired. The easiest repairs are those that simply occur with regular wear and tear, and these can be avoided through normal maintenance. But some are more complex, due to the involvement of others. Either way, drivers should be careful about how they approach the care and keeping of their cars, to ensure that they last for the long term.

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