You’ve just been in a car accident and you are thankful you weren’t seriously injured. The last thing on your mind is filing a property damage claim to get payment for your wrecked car. Most people aren’t thinking about who was at fault for the accident. It takes time before they realize they don’t have a car to drive to work the next day. Many people who have car accidents don’t know what their insurance covers, much less how to go about getting compensated for what it doesn’t.
Filing a Property Damage Claim │ Whether You Were Injured or Not
What is a Property Damage Claim?
If you have an accident because of the action or inaction of another driver, that driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying the damages to your vehicle. You will report the accident to your insurance company. They may, in turn, file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to seek subrogation. Another option is to file directly with the other driver’s insurance company.
The difficulty in getting a property claim paid is that the insurance adjuster has the best interests of his client at heart. The adjuster’s goal is to pay less; not more. The insurance claim adjuster can challenge the fault of the other driver.
The total cost of the damage includes the damage caused by the accident. The cost of a rental while you wait to have your car repaired is also considered recoverable costs. The property damage claim sometimes includes diminution in value if your car is severely damaged. If the accident caused damage to items in your car, you may have the right to compensation for these as well. This includes items like eyeglasses, your new cell phone, or your kids’ sports equipment. The amount of coverage for property damage depends on the terms of the owner’s policy.
Many people involved in accidents decide to file a property damage claim without the help of a lawyer. This is especially true for those who aren’t injured and do not intend to file a personal injury claim. In some cases, the process goes smoothly and the person gets paid. The reason that you need a lawyer is that there is a lot of potential for things to go wrong. The insurance adjuster knows you aren’t a lawyer and that you probably don’t know your legal rights.
Comparative Negligence (or Fault)
Every state has its own laws pertaining to property damage and the process for filing a property damage claim. California is a “comparative fault” state which means that more than one driver can share a percentage of the total fault for an accident. “Negligence” is an act or a failure to act. If the other driver was on the wrong side of the road and driving under the influence when they hit you, you might think the accident was 100% their fault. If you were speeding at the time of the accident, you will also share in a percentage of the blame.
When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
People also experience a rush of adrenaline following an accident. This prevents them from feeling the effects of some types of injury until hours after they occur. It also takes time for bruising or swelling to set in. If there is any possibility that you have injuries that haven’t emerged or you feel symptoms of soreness or stiffness, you need to talk to a personal injury attorney.
A personal injury claim will help you get reimbursed for your medical bills and other expenses related to your injuries. A personal injury attorney will help you with filing a personal injury claim. This claim is only for the injuries you received. You should talk to your lawyer about filing a property damage claim to recover property damage. Most attorneys will handle the property claim along with the personal injury case.
Even if you are not injured, you should have a personal injury attorney to handle your property claim for you. All you have to do is say or do one wrong thing to impact the outcome of your case. Most people fail to recognize the impact of what they say to the insurance adjuster. Your words could cause them to diminish the value of your claim or they could deny the claim altogether.
It isn’t unusual for people to negatively influence their case without ever realizing what they said. If you don’t know your rights, the law, or the value of your claim, you could end up getting a lot less than you need. Any time you are in a car accident, you should call a personal injury attorney to discuss your options.
Statute of Limitations
Insurance companies have specific time limits about how long you have to report an accident. If you fail to meet them, they have the right to deny your claim. Many offer 24-hour claims service so you can report an accident immediately after it happens. This also makes it easier for you to file a claim within the allowed timeframe if you have problems getting paid.
The state also has a time limit for filing a property damage claim or for filing a personal injury claim. In California, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is two years from the date of the accident. You have three years to file a property damage claim.
Certain situations can affect these guidelines. A personal injury attorney is familiar with the situations that could impact your case. If you fail to file a claim, either with or without an injury, you will lose your rights to compensation.
Common Mistakes People Make When Filing a Property Damage Claim
The most important issue following an accident is determining which driver is at fault. What you say immediately after the accident or at any time during the process can hurt you. You might tell the other driver that the accident was your fault. Just saying that you are fine can come back to haunt you later on.
If you file a property damage claim on your own, a single small mistake can result in getting denied. An attorney will help you file the claim correctly and save you the time and hassle common mistakes can cause. The compensation that you get from a personal injury claim is to pay medical bills incurred by your injury. A property damage claim is to cover your expenses and to get back to the financial situation you had before the wreck. In either or both cases, you have the right to get a fair settlement for an accident that wasn’t your fault.
Handling your own claim could result in your settling for an amount that isn’t fair or enough for your financial needs. Your attorney knows how much your claim should be. They will negotiate with the insurance company to get you a fair settlement. If they aren’t forthcoming, your attorney will represent you in court.
Most importantly, getting a personal injury attorney to help you with your property damage claim will ensure you take all the right steps from the time of the accident until you receive compensation.
Help You Can Afford
One of the main reasons that people try to file their own property damage claims is to save money. They already have so many unexpected expenses on top of dealing with the emotional impact of the accident. They don’t want to add the cost of legal fees to that burden.
What many people don’t realize is that filing a property damage claim with a personal injury usually costs no more. Also, personal injury attorneys only get paid when you do. There is no cost upfront to make it harder to get by. Even if you think you aren’t injured from the accident, you could learn months later that those headaches or your back pain all started with the accident. When you do, having a personal injury attorney who is familiar with your case will come in handy.
Choosing a Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injury law firms aren’t hard to find. Finding a good attorney who will fight for your rights takes a little more work. The first thing to look for in a personal injury law firm is a history of success. An attorney who has a history of successfully representing their clients will take the job of representing you seriously. They should understand that you have questions about what you need to do next.
Batta Fulkerson is a team of skilled, experienced, & dedicated attorneys with a reputation for success. We understand the impact an auto accident has on you and we are devoted to getting you a fair settlement to your case. Contact us if you have questions about filing a property damage claim. We can help you determine whether you have a personal case whether you have injuries or not. It’s always a good idea to see a personal injury attorney after an auto accident even if you aren’t sure that you have a case. There’s no better place to learn your rights and your options.