What to Do If Your Car Has Been Damaged in a Flood

file0001335127287-199x300Hurricane Harvey hit Texas hard and as New Englanders, we were fortunate to be spared the harsh effects of the severe storm. However, as Rhode Islanders, especially Warwick residents, we are no stranger to floods and the damage they can cause. Witness the floods experienced in Warwick in March 2010, the worst flooding Rhode Island had suffered in over 100 years. As personal injury lawyers helping Warwick residents, Tapalian Law realizes how very fortunate we are that no lives were lost as a direct result of the flooding. The record rains, and resulting floods however, caused property damage to multitudes of homes, businesses, and infrastructures. Many homes and businesses could be repaired or rebuilt, but what about vehicle damage? Many vehicles are beyond repair when they experience extreme water damage. Not only that, chances are they are not safe to drive.

Vehicle Damage after a Flood

Chances are if a car has experienced a flood, it won’t be salvageable. If your vehicle has been inflicted with water damage from a flood, you will first need to contact your insurance company to file a claim for the flood damage. Filing a claim for flood damage is like filing a claim with your insurance company after you’ve been involved in a car accident. After reviewing the details of the claim and personally inspecting the vehicle, if your insurance company determines the vehicle has too much water damage to be salvageable, they will “total” the vehicle and work with you towards getting a replacement vehicle.

There may be times however, when you feel strongly about trying to salvage the water-logged vehicle, such as a classic car that has been carefully restored over many years and has sentimental meaning. If you feel this way about a beloved car, it is important to remember a few things. First, do not start up or operate a vehicle that has been waterlogged. Your first instinct may be to drive the car to a dry area, but don’t. If water has gotten into the vehicles engine or electrical system and the vehicle is started, likely this will destroy the engine. Disconnect the car battery so it can dry out. If you attempt to start the vehicle with a wet battery, it can fry the electrical system. You will need to have the vehicle towed to a dry spot by a towing company as soon as possible. The longer it sits in water, the more rust and corrosion it will incur. Take lots of pictures of the vehicle to provide to your insurance carrier. Do not wait for the insurance adjuster to come take the pictures as most likely they are swamped with flood claims and will take longer than normal. Mold and mildew from water damage happen fast, so you need to do as much to rectify the situation as you can on your own. To start the process of drying, open car doors, the hood, the trunk, and remove seats, carpet and other components. Using a vacuum specifically made to treat wet surfaces, dry up as much moisture as possible before deodorizing the car to get rid of smells. This will get you on the way to drying out the vehicle and from there the insurance adjuster will make the decision to reimburse you for repairs or “total” the vehicle, based on your policy.

Repairing a Water-Logged Vehicle

Most times, a water-logged automobile is not salvageable and likely, your insurance company will “junk” the vehicle and you will need to look for a replacement vehicle. The last thing you want to do is drive a car or SUV that isn’t safe. Whether taking the kids to school or commuting to work, your vehicle needs to be in top working condition. Water damage can cause parts to rust, rot, and break off at the most inopportune time. This can create an unsafe, and possibly deadly, situation causing a car accident resulting in bodily damage to you, your passengers, and other drivers on the road. If, however, your insurance adjuster has fully inspected your vehicle and made the determination to salvage and repair the car, it is important you take it to the dealer or a reputable mechanic who is experienced with water logged vehicles and can make the appropriate repairs to your vehicle so it is safe to drive.

When an Accident Happens Due to Faulty Repairs

If you, or a loved one, have been injured in a car accident proven to have been caused by a vehicle malfunction or faulty repair, you may be eligible to file a claim against the driver of the vehicle and/or the company responsible for the faulty repairs. If a death occurred and is proven to be caused by defective workmanship, you or certain family members may also be eligible to file a wrongful death claim with the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney. If you feel that have been involved in a car accident that was caused by repairs that were not made properly, you need to seek the advice of a car accident lawyer right away. Attorney David Tapalian’s legal expertise has helped Warwick residents and residents from all over Rhode Island and Massachusetts receive compensation for their injuries and get back on their feet after a car accident. Tapalian Law offers a free review of your car accident case, and will advise you of what steps to take next. With offices in Providence and Seekonk, we are easily able to accommodate your needs. Call us at


or reach the car accident lawyers at Tapalian Law via email to discuss your case today.

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