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Oct 29, 2020

When you are in a car accident, as long as you and the other party are not injured, you will need to deal with property damages incurred. Property damage is defined as injury, damage, or harm to anything that is not a person. This can be your car, your home, your dog, a stop sign, or something like your laptop or even your cell phone.

Essentially property damage is the replacement cost of repairs, as well as sentimental value, combined with what you could have done with those items lost. Property damage is a complicated case, because it can be difficult to know where you should submit your claim, and if it is even possible to obtain restitution for your property.

Property Damage in a Personal Injury Case

Property damage in a personal injury case is when you obtain property damage along with an injury. This is typically in a car accident but can also be due to negligence.

When property damage occurs during a car accident it is different than what would happen in a case of standard assault or robbery personal injury case. Typically, it will be handled through your insurance company, but what you need to know is that there is often a time limit.

This means that with property damage in a personal injury case you will need to ensure you file the claim as soon as possible in case your insurance company gives you a lower offer than you are comfortable with.

Why We Do Not Take Property Damage Cases Without a Personal Injury Case

There are limits to what an attorney can do in a property damage case where you have not obtained personal injuries. This is often because most property damage claims that are from car accidents have very minor or non-existent injuries.

If you do not have injuries but you do have a property damage claim, we will usually not take your case because there will not be enough money involved in the case for compensation on the lawyer’s end.

In personal injury cases, you often pay your lawyer based on a percentage of how much your settlement is. Because the lawyer’s hourly fee may be much higher than the compensation, they will receive in a property damage case, the whole case will be pointless.

If you do plan to hire a lawyer, you will need to pay at least 30% of your case fees to a lawyer. As a result, because this 30% may not even be a fraction of the hourly fee, most lawyers will say no to a property damage case without injury.

Types of Compensation You May Recover in a Property Damage Case Only

  • Actual Cash Value: If your insurance decides that your vehicle will cost more than 75 percent of its value, it will be declared a total loss. When your case is determined to be a total loss, often the payout cannot be negotiated. Additionally, the compensation you receive will be known as the “actual cash value” (ACV). This is based on the fair market value of the car before the crash. Because hiring a lawyer is usually more than the gain you will make on the car, it is worth it to accept whatever is given to you.

  • Sales Tax: When you purchase a new vehicle in the event of a total loss, often your insurance company will be required to pay the sales tax on your replacement vehicle.

  • Loss of Use: This is associated with the costs incurred regarding replacing your vehicle or a replacement means of transportation. This might include Uber, public transportation, or taxis while you wait for your car to be repaired or replaced.

How to Handle a Property Damage Case

Most personal injury attorneys do not take on property damage cases without personal injury being involved, then you have a few methods to resolve a property damage case, on your own.

Make a Claim Against Your Insurance Company

You can choose to make a claim against your own insurance company for damages to your car, but most people choose not to do this. The reasons you may not want to do this is because you will need to pay your deductible anyway, and your rates will most likely go up afterward. It may end up being cheaper to simply pay to fix your car.

Make a Claim Against the Other Insurance Company

The other option you have is to make a claim, on your own, against the insurance company of the other driver. This will help you avoid paying your deductible and will also allow you to forget about your rates going up.

This unfortunately is often a slow process, as the insurance company makes it hard for you to obtain your payout. Not only will you have to give a recorded statement, but you will need to send in a registered list of damages incurred, and they will even send out an insurance adjuster to inspect the car.

File a Small Claims Lawsuit

If the driver that you are involved with, in the accident, does not have car insurance, you do have the option to file a small claims lawsuit. In this case, there are different laws for each state regarding small claims lawsuits, but in the state of Colorado, you can do so if it is less than $7,500 of damage.

This is also not the quickest method of obtaining your restitution. Unfortunately, from the date you file to the time you can visit court, it could take more than a month or more. Additionally, if this person ends up in court then you may get into a battle regarding the facts, damages, and whose fault it truly was.

Additionally, your small claims case might end up as a trial, and if your opposition does not like the outcome of that trial, they can appeal it. This will cause your restitution to be even more delayed and might feel like an endless back and forth game.

Plus, it gets worse, if they do not have insurance then often there is a good chance, they cannot afford to pay you. Even if they are required to pay, if they cannot, then you will get nothing. Property damage cases tend to have their own deadlines when it comes to your right to file a civil lawsuit as well, so this is something important to remember in the case of an accident.

No-Fault States

Some states are considered “no-fault” states. No-fault states are states that allow drivers to have “first-party” coverage for car accident injuries from their own insurer. This means they will have coverage without needing to determine who was at fault for the accident. In these states, all insurance plans must include personal injury protection insurance. This provides basic coverage for minor injuries.

Colorado is not a no-fault state. This means that all of the blame and financial responsibility will be placed on whoever is responsible for the accident. This means if the officer determines that you are not at fault for the accident, then the other party will be responsible for all of your losses, your medical bills, and your property damage.

Despite this, as stated before, it can be difficult to force someone to pay for your damages when they do not have the money in the first place.

When to Sue Someone for Property Damage

There are specific instances in which you might want to sue someone for causing damage to your property. Specifically, if you are in a car accident and you decide to sue someone directly for the damage they have done to your car, then you might file a lawsuit in small claims court.

This will help you in the instance that you file a report with your insurance company and are required to pay a deductible, you can sue for that cost. Note that small claims court cases typically do not involve lawyers, but you always have the right to do so.

When You Should Contact a Lawyer

Because Colorado is not a no-fault insurance state, you will not need to go through your insurance company, but instead, the person at fault will automatically be held responsible. Despite this, there are always times where hiring a lawyer might be helpful to you. 

  1. If the opposing insurance company is denying your claim.

  2. If the opposing insurer refuses to pay for full repairs to your vehicle.

  3. You have been accused of fraud.

  4. Someone from a “Special Investigations Unit” has contacted you.

Additionally, often at-fault insurance companies will attempt to use poor tactics to deny paying a claim. If you notice this is occurring, then you can hire a personal injury attorney to help you decide your next move. You may even be entitled to file a “bad faith” claim against the insurance company. 

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

At Anderson Hemmat we know how difficult it can be to recover from a personal injury while trying to win your case. Our team specializes in getting you the money you deserve to compensate for your injuries.

If you have suffered a personal injury at no fault of your own, contact us today to get the compensation you deserve! We don’t get paid unless you get paid.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. No information should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Viewing this website or submitting information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.