Home and vehicle damage caused by sleeping driver...

by Sandy
(Killee, TX)

A young lady ran off the road and hit my sister's car, and the force caused her car to crash into her house. This happened on a Saturday and the insurance adjuster is not available until Monday. What is my sister's recourse?

The person who caused the accident reported she fell asleep at the wheel. My sister did not have home insurance and only had liability insurance on her car. Is the woman who fell asleep at the wheel totally responsible for paying for all the damage to my sister's house and car? How does my sister handle this? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Home and vehicle damage caused by sleeping driver...":

Sandy (Killee, TX):

Yes. The woman who crashed into your sister’s car is ultimately, and solely, liable for the damage caused to your sister’s car and to her home. Hopefully the police were called and dispatched to the scene. If so, be sure you or your sister secures a copy of the police report. Your sister can secure a copy of the police report for a nominal fee from the police station.

You sister must contact the driver’s insurance company to file a claim. It is a rather straightforward procedure. If practical, be sure your sister does not repair any of the damage until the driver’s insurance company has had a chance to see it.

Once your sister contacts the driver's insurance company, she must tell them what happened and ask that someone contact her about paying for the damage.

Once accomplished, an insurance company claims adjuster will contact your sister. The adjuster will likely want to come out and inspect the damage. If your sister has a police report, be sure she gives a copy of it to the claims adjuster.

Before your sister signs any documents submitted to her by the insurance company, make sure she has a private body repair shop look at her car and give her an estimate for its repairs. Make sure your sister tells the body shop repair person she wants "Original Equipment Manufactured" (OEM) parts to be used in the repair of her car.

The insurance company will likely try and get away with agreeing to pay for cheaper parts made in China or elsewhere. Your sister has a right to have the same brand parts placed back in the car as those it came with.

Your sister also needs to get an estimate from one or more repair persons/contractors who can fix the damage to her home. She should not rely in the estimates submitted to her by the insurance company.

Finally, your sister should not sign any documents provided by the insurance company, especially a "Release Form," until she is thoroughly satisfied with the amounts the insurance company will be paying her. Once your sister signs a release, it will be too late to go back and seek more money.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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