Good afternoon and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I am so sorry to hear about your accident, which sounds rather traumatic.
When your insurance company said you "don't have a claim" for your property damage, they meant that you don't have an insurance claim against them
You absolutely DO have a claim for property damage--and bodily injury, which it sounds like you incurred--against the at-fault driver's insurance company.
This is what's known as a "third party claim." You don't have to pay any deductible, and your insurance rates won't go up, assuming you were not at fault for the collision (which does not appear to be the case) and the other driver's insurance accepts liability (likely under the circumstances).
You are also entitled to compensation for the "loss of use" of your minivan, typically in the amount of the daily charge for a comparable rental for the reasonable amount of time it would take to either get the car repaired or find a new car.
If this is an accident in which liability is clear, the insurance company may set up liability right away, in which case they may be able to offer a "direct billing" car rental, which is paid entirely from the insurance coverage requiring you to spend no money at all and giving you a car to drive around in until your car is repaired or determined to be a "total loss," in which case the insurance company will pay you the cash value for your vehicle so that you can buy something else.
All of this is your property damage claim, but separate and apart from this it sounds like you have a bodily injury claim. Those are usually resolved a bit slower, as you will want to fully heal so you know the extent of your injuries and the cost of treatment before accepting a settlement in exchange for a release of your right to sue.
Many insurance companies try to act like your friend and get you to settle your case very quickly, as if they are doing you a favor. They are not. They know that if they can get you to settle now, before your injuries have been fully realized, they will usually fair better in the long run, and so often attempt "fast and quick" settlement offers to get your claim off the books.
If this happens--and that seems a few steps away at this point, since you do not yet even have the police report or know the name of the insurance companies involved--you would be wise to resist immemdiate settlement and insist on fully recovering before addressing the bodily injury portion of your claim.
All of this is obviously a complex process, but the good news is that there are a great many personal injury attorneys who assist individuals like yourself on a contingency fee basis.
If you don't know, a contingency fee arrangement is one in which the attorney receives a portion of the client's settlement or award as his payment, typically 1/3 of the total amount. If there is no recovery, the attorney does not get paid. The client never pays until the settlement or award is obtained (except perhaps to cover the filing costs for his claim).
Contingency fees are great because they allow individuals to retain attorneys who would not be able to pay for pricey hourly rates up front. Most accident cases of this kind are handled on a contingency fee basis.
An individual in your circumstance would be EXTREMELY wise to immediately contact a local personal injury attorney. He or she will assist you with your property damage claim ad your bodily injury claim, obtain the police report, contact all the necessary insurance companies, and make sure that you are treated fairly and compensated for your damages.
To locate a local personal injury attorney, contact your local county bar referral service, which you can find here: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/LawyerReferralServicesLRS.aspx
Please do not hesitate
to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
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