After your vehicle has been damaged in a car collision, you will have three choices. You can file a claim with the other party's insurance company, you can file a claim with your own insurance company or if there are personal injuries you should contact a car accident lawyer. In the event that the other party is clearly responsible for the collision, the best option is to file your claim with the at-fault party's company. Sometimes, there is a question as to who is at fault. In these cases, it would be better to file your claim with your own company or seeks the services of an auto accident lawyer to make sure your legal rights are protected. Filing with the Other Driver's Insurance Company When you file a claim with the other driver's insurance company, you will not be required to pay your deductible when you take your vehicle to be repaired. You may even be able to obtain a rental car, and the other driver's insurance company may pay for it. In the event that the cost of repairing your car exceeds 51 percent of its value, the insurance company will decide, most likely, that it is a total loss. Then, you and the insurance company will need to negotiate the fair market value. In most cases, people consult the Kelley Blue Book that lists the current fair market value for every vehicle. However, there will still be room for negotiation. How well you maintained your vehicle will be a factor in the amount of money the insurance company offers. You may have an auto loan that you are currently paying. Before you enter into negotiations with the at-fault driver's insurance company, remember that the company is not obligated to offer you enough money to cover what you owe to your lender. The obligation is only to repair your vehicle or to offer you the fair market value. Filing a Claim with Your Own Insurance Company In cases when fault is in doubt, you will file with your own insurance company for your collision coverage. If the other party is eventually determined to be the one deemed responsible for the collision, your insurance company will seek payment from the at-fault party's insurance company. You will need to pay your deductible when you take your car to be repaired, but you may be reimbursed if you are determined not to be at fault. The 51 percent rule may also apply when you file a claim with your own auto insurance company. If the cost of repairs will surpass 51 percent of the vehicle's fair market value, the insurance company may wish to call it a total loss. You can disagree, but you will need to do so immediately because vehicles that have been sent to the salvage yard are difficult to retrieve. In this case, you will need to ask for the actual cash value. When to Hire an Attorney Although you do not need to hire a car accident lawyer when there is only a property damage claim being filed, you may wish to hire an attorney if there are also personal injuries. A personal injury attorney will be able to take over both the bodily injury and property damage claims, but they may not be able to take your case if there are only property damages. If there was a fatality, you will definitely need to look into hiring an auto accident lawyer who may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. For example, 18 wheeler accidents have been known to be deadly when they occur between the 18-wheeler and a much smaller vehicle. These accidents have occurred in the past because of negligence on the part of the driver of the 18-wheeler. Your personal injury attorney is knowledgeable in determining what causes collisions between vehicles and 18-wheelers and smaller vehicles and other smaller vehicles, and they will fight vigorously for you if your rights have been violated.