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Connecticut Car Repair FAQs

While the majority of car accident law in New Haven is focused on the bodily injuries suffered by crash victims, another substantial issue is property damage. Damage that makes a motor vehicle inoperable can be a significant problem for a victim, who may be unable to get to work, school and doctor’s appointments. Learn how to get fair financial compensation for your vehicle repairs using these frequently asked questions about car repair in Connecticut.

Do I Have to Bring My Car to a Specific Repair Shop?

No. Connecticut’s car insurance laws do not require vehicle owners to send their cars to specific auto shops for inspections, appraisals or repairs. You are free to go to the mechanic or auto shop of your choice. Even if your vehicle was automatically towed to a certain shop near the location of the accident, you are not required to get it fixed there. 

Shortly after your accident, you may receive a list of auto shops from your car insurance company. Note that you are not legally obligated to take your vehicle to any of these shops. This is typically a list of auto shops that the insurance company is contracted with to repair a vehicle for less money than other shops.

There may be an exception to this rule, however, if you leased your vehicle at the time of the accident. In this scenario, the leasing company may require you to bring the car to a specific location for repairs. Contact your leasing company to find out if there is a specific place you need to bring your vehicle for repairs.

Can a Shop Repair My Vehicle Without My Consent?

No. If your vehicle was automatically sent to a repair shop while you were taken to a hospital for emergency medical care, the shop cannot begin work on your car until it has your written consent to the proposed repairs. You must sign off on an estimate of the maximum cost of vehicle repairs, including parts and labor, before the auto mechanic can start any work.

What Does it Mean if They Say My Car Is “Totaled?”

If an appraisal by an auto mechanic concludes that your vehicle is totaled, this means it is a total loss. In other words, its actual cash value is less than what it would cost to repair the vehicle. Actual cash value refers to how much the vehicle was worth before the accident. If your vehicle is totaled, you can receive a settlement check to cover your vehicle’s actual cash value from the liable insurance company. You can use this money to purchase a new vehicle. You then have the option of taking back your totaled vehicle or sending it to a salvage yard.

What if My Insurance Coverage and the Cost of Repairs Don’t Line Up?

It is not uncommon for the price of motor vehicle repairs to exceed the amount of property damage coverage on the insurance policy being used. In this scenario, you may be able to seek supplemental coverage from another insurance company, such as your own car insurance provider or a third party. 

Note, however, that if the auto shop and the insurance company cannot agree on the price of vehicle repairs, you may have to make up the difference – either with supplemental coverage or out of pocket. You may also be able to file a complaint with the Insurance Department’s Consumer Affairs Unit to have them resolve a dispute between a mechanic and an insurer.

Who Pays for Rental Car Costs While My Car Is in the Shop?

If you need to rent a car after an accident while yours is at the auto shop, the at-fault driver will typically pay for you to rent a comparable vehicle using his or her auto insurance. This is covered under property damage liability insurance. If you are found to be at fault for the accident, however, you may need to turn to your own policy for coverage. Your car insurer will generally only pay for a rental car if you have the right type of coverage. Otherwise, you will pay out of pocket for the rental vehicle.

If you have further questions about car repair after an accident in Connecticut, contact our New Haven attorneys at (203) 777-2300 for a free case consultation.

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