When a car accident happens, the first concern is if everyone is safe. Even if no one was hurt, a car owner may discover significant property damage. It may not be immediately apparent how they should handle making a claim for the damage. Property damage in legal terms constitutes harm to physical property. Separate from personal injury, which addresses bodily harm suffered by people, property damage involves the vehicle or items that were inside the car.
Property damage usually consists of paying for repairs for the damaged items or their replacement value. In some cases, the claim may include compensation for loss of use or sentimental value. Loss of use pertains to the costs associated with the claimant not having the ability to make use of the item and the costs associated with having to pay for a substitute, such as a rental car. A claim may assert that the damaged property held sentimental value that should be considered in the payment of damages.
The at-fault driver is responsible for any resulting property damage. This is complicated by the involvement of auto insurance since insurance companies represent the drivers. If the insurance denies the claim or insufficiently covers the damage, the driver may be sued personally to make up the difference.
Are There Deadlines for Filing for Property Damage?
The major concern when it comes to filing a property damage claim has to do with deadlines. Most insurance companies have time restraints for claims that begin from the date of the accident. It is imperative to file any claim before this term expires.
If a lawsuit is sought, there are strict deadlines as well. These time limits vary by state. Pennsylvania has a deadline of two years from the accident date. New Jersey allows personal injury lawsuits to be filed up to six years afterward.
What Steps Should be Taken to Support a Property Damage Claim?
At the accident scene, the police should be called. Information should be collected about the at-fault driver, the make, model, and license number of the car involved, and all relevant insurance information. Notes should be made on the damage caused by the accident as well as any contributing factors, such as weather and road conditions. Photographs and witness statements can help.
Whether the claimant is another driver with car damage or the owner of damaged property, such as a building or tree, it is best to report the incident to insurance companies on both sides. The policy of the at-fault party should provide coverage, but the claimant’s insurance may require that the accident be reported, regardless of fault.
When a claimant involves their own insurance, the claim may process more quickly, and the insurance companies can fight about who pays. However, this may include paying a deductible that may or may not be refunded after the insurance companies settle.
Monmouth County Car Accident Lawyers at the Falcon Law Firm, LLC Advise Clients About Property Damage Claims
If you incurred property damage in a car accident, you are entitled to collect appropriate compensation. Our Monmouth County car accident lawyers at the Falcon Law Firm, LLC provide legal guidance to car crash victims. Contact us online or call us at 732-660-1200 for a free consultation. Located in Oakhurst, Parlin, and Aberdeen, New Jersey, and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Asbury Park, Belmar, Deal, Ocean Township, Point Pleasant, Long Branch, West Long Branch, Sayreville, Middlesex County, and Monmouth County, New Jersey, as well as Bucks County, Pennsylvania.