What Property Damage Occurs in a Car Accident?
If you are in a car accident, the first concern you may have is whether you have sustained personal injury. Your health should always come first above all else. There is a possibility that you have sustained only minor injuries or are uninjured. However, there may be property damage to worry about. Property damage consists of what was damaged because of the accident, whether it be the damage to your car, a phone inside your car, or whatever else that may have collided with your vehicle.
You would need to file a property damage claim to be compensated for your losses in an accident. Property damage is essentially anything damaged other than the human body. The following are some important things to know about property damage claims:
- Property damage can be covered by your insurance or the insurance of the at-fault party of the accident. Depending on what caused the damage, your property damage would be covered under liability, collision, or comprehensive insurance.
- If it were property damage to your home, you would file an insurance claim with your homeowner’s insurance. In car accidents, you file the claim either with your own auto insurance or the auto insurance of the liable party.
- Once your claim has been filed, your insurance company will assign an insurance adjuster to your claim, who will oversee the entire process and will calculate the settlement offer.
Documenting Property Damage after a Car Accident
The amount of property damage in a car accident is a major factor in your insurance claim and will likely make up a large portion of the claim. Vehicle repairs generally take up the largest percentage of a car accident claim, but personal belongings can be damaged in a car accident and can be expensive as well, such as:
- Aftermarket radio equipment
- Electronic devices
Essentially, anything inside the vehicle during the accident could, if damaged, count as property damage. To document these items, be sure to take photographs and videos of the damage you incurred in the accident, including clear and detailed views of the belongings that were damaged. Collect documents that will support your ownership of these items as well, such as purchase receipts, which will show the value of the items.
Finally, if you were driving with your pet inside the vehicle at the time of the accident, and the collision injured your pet, your pet’s injuries would be listed under property damage, not under personal injury. Be sure to keep any veterinary bills to file in the property damage claim.
How to File a Property Damage Claim?
There are some key things to know about filing a property damage claim. Consulting with a car accident lawyer before filing your claim can help answer any questions you may have and how to calculate your losses:
- Contact the insurance company. Whenever your vehicle is damaged, you should always notify your insurance company as soon as possible, regardless of who was at fault or how it happened. Even if you plan on filing a claim against the other party’s insurance company because they were liable, notifying your insurance company will have them contact the other insurance company to work on your claim together.
- File a police report. Many states require you to file a police report following a car accident, usually depending on the amount of property damage or if there were any injuries. Getting a police report anyway regardless of the law is beneficial to an insurance claim, as it can illustrate what happened during the accident, who was at fault, and what was damaged.
- File a claim. You likely have many options to file a claim with an insurance company, so you should do so with whichever option fits your needs. You can either call them directly, file a claim online, do so on a mobile app, or email or fax a claim. Some states give you a time limit to file a property damage claim, but you should not wait because waiting will make it more difficult to defend the claim.
- Talk to the insurance adjuster. An insurance adjuster will be assigned to your claim once you file it, who will review all the details of the claim, including the damage of your car and the other property damage you incurred. Once that is all done, the insurance adjuster will calculate a settlement estimate, which is how much the insurance company is willing to pay for repairs or replacement. They will likely be able to determine who was at fault for the accident as well, so it is imperative that you explain to them your side of the events and provide them with all the evidence and documentation you have supporting your claim. If the total cost of repairs to your vehicle is more than what the vehicle is worth, your car will be considered totaled. When your car is totaled, the insurance company would then issue you payment for how much the car was worth before being damaged.
- Purchase gap insurance. It may be a good idea to purchase gap insurance if you take out a loan to purchase your vehicle. In the event of an accident and your vehicle is totaled, there is a chance that the payment for the totaled vehicle will not cover what you owe on your loan. That is where gap insurance comes in, as it covers that gap between the two: what the car is worth, and what you owe.
- Get repairs done. Your insurance company will recommend what repair shops to use, but you can go to whichever one you choose. However, it may be beneficial to go to an authorized repair shop, as the insurance company can pay them directly and approvals can be made quicker.
- Finalize the claim payout. After the repairs are completed, the insurance company will either pay the repair shop directly or give you the payment, and you will also be required to sign a release accepting the payment. The release you sign will also say that you are unable to pursue any further claims regarding this accident.
It is important to remember that you do not have to accept the settlement amount the insurance company presents to you if you do not agree with it. You can contact a car accident lawyer, and they can go over the details of your claim and can possibly help you receive more compensation.
College Park Car Accident Lawyer at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Helps Clients with Their Property Damage Claims
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, you may have not been injured, but you still will face dealing with property damage. An experienced College Park car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Duane O. King will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington DC, Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we work with clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.