Property damage (PD) refers to any damage suffered to your personal property because of an accident. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, your vehicle will more than likely be the biggest portion of your PD claim. However, you should know that you are also entitled to receive compensation for other items that were damaged in the accident.
While there is usually a property damage component in every personal injury claim, there are other times when you may only want to file a property damage claim. An Atlanta personal injury lawyer from Kaine Law can determine what you are owed in compensation and fight for it.
You should file a property-damage-only claim if:
- Your car was damaged in an accident
- There were no physical injuries, and you will not need to seek any medical treatment or physical therapy
- Other personal items that were inside of the car at the time of the accident were damaged or destroyed. For example, this may include items like your glasses, clothing, or even electronics like your laptop, camera, or cell phone.
For a free legal consultation with a property damage lawyer serving Atlanta, call 404-214-2001
Car Accidents Without Bodily Injuries
What steps should you take after an accident if there are no bodily injuries?
1) File a claim: If another driver caused the crash, that driver’s insurance company is responsible for reimbursing you for any damaged property because of their driver’s negligence.
2) Get a rental car: The length of this process depends on how quickly the opposing insurance company accepts liability.
If there is a dispute regarding liability, or if the other insurance company is simply taking too long to make rental car arrangements, you may be well-served going through your own vehicle’s insurance’s collision coverage. You will have to pay your deductible for the time being, but after the responsible driver’s insurance company completes their investigation and accepts liability, your deductible amount will be refunded to you as part of your settlement.
3) Have your vehicle appraised for repair: The sooner you complete this step, the sooner you can expect to have your vehicle repaired. After the insurance company has appraised your vehicle, decide where to take your car for repairs. People are often under the misconception that they must use the insurance company’s recommended repair shop. The insurance company may make it sound like this is the only option, but this is not correct.
After an adjuster has appraised your vehicle, you can choose to have it repaired at a repair shop of your choice. Keep in mind, however, that the insurance company will only pay what they believe is a reasonable amount for repairs. If you choose to have it repaired somewhere with a higher cost, you must first get approval for the extra expenditure.
If the insurance does not approve of the higher cost, they may be willing to write you a check for the appraisal. You will then have to work out the cost of the repairs with the shop of your choice.
If you’ve made additions to your vehicle or installed aftermarket parts (e.g., an expensive sound system or customized special rims), it’s always a good idea to keep receipts to prove their cost. You’ll need to include these as proof to recover these additional costs.
4) Include all damaged items in your claim and send receipts to the insurance company: You have a right to be compensated for any item of value that was damaged in the collision. Remember to list these items in your property damage claim. It helps to gather photographs and receipts for these items to prove their value.
Don’t forget about your car seat! The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that parents replace car seats if they were in a vehicle that was in a crash – even if the child was not in the car seat at the time of the car accident.
Since the extreme forces caused by a car accident can bend the steel frame of a vehicle, the explosive force of even a minor car accident can damage the plastic of a child’s car seat. Even if you can’t see the damage with your naked eye, the crash protection of a car seat or booster seat may be compromised. Don’t risk your child’s safety; besides, the car insurance company should pay for a replacement car seat as part of your property damage claim.
TIP: If you don’t have the receipts anymore, you may try reaching out to the retailer where the items were purchased, as the seller may be able to provide you with a copy of your receipt.
What is a Property Damage Claim Worth?
Like with all civil lawsuits, it is impossible to know exactly how your Atlanta property damage case might play out. No one can guarantee that your case will be successful, but our firm could help you understand what your case might be worth. There are two ways to determine what a property damage case is worth.
The compensation depends on whether the property damage is in a condition where it could be repaired, or if it has been damaged beyond repair. If your property was damaged but a repair is possible, your compensation could be the amount of money needed to make these repairs. The reality is that repairs are not always an option. This is common in serious motor vehicles where the cars are considered “totaled.”
When your damage is beyond repair, your compensation could be the value of your property prior to the damage. In some cases, a repair might be a possibility but impractical. For example, extensive repairs could end up costing more than the full value of the vehicle. In these cases, the insurance company could choose to pay for the value of the vehicle.
There Is a Deadline to File a Property Damage Lawsuit
One of the factors you should keep in mind when considering a Atlanta property damage case is the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the deadline that you must comply with when filing a civil lawsuit.
If you do not comply with the statute of limitations, the consequences can be severe. Generally, the failure to comply with the statute will result in the dismissal of your lawsuit with prejudice. That means the ability to pursue your case is lost forever.
Your Atlanta property damage lawyer could assist you by advising you on the amount of time you have to file your lawsuit. They can keep track of all the legal deadlines in your case and ensure that your rights are protected.
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Can a Property Damage Claim Settle Before an Injury Case Is Resolved?
In many cases, a vehicle accident will result in both a personal injury case and a property damage case. These cases might stem from the same incident, but that does not mean they will conclude at the same time. This is because insurance claims involving bodily injuries are handled separately from those related to property damage.
The policy limits that apply to liability coverage also differ between property damage and injury claims, which makes it possible to reach a settlement on one but not both claims. It is not uncommon for property claims to be resolved through a settlement long before bodily injury cases. This is true for several reasons. First and foremost, the cost of property damage claims is more objective than the damages related to a bodily injury.
While two mechanics might disagree on the specifics, there are general agreements on what vehicles are worth and how much it costs to repair them. The objective nature of a property damage could result in a settlement even though the bodily injury case remains unresolved.
Connect With Our Property Damage Attorneys in Atlanta, GA
While most attorneys will not handle property-damage-only cases, as a courtesy, we assist our personal injury clients with the handling of their property damage claims. From our offices in DeKalb, Henry, Rockdale, and Gwinnett counties, our car accident attorneys and personal injury lawyers at Kaine Law help our clients with every aspect of their claims. Call today for a free consultation. Hablamos español.