When a car accident occurs, and all you need to worry about is the car itself, you’re at least lucky. If you have attached your name to your lovely car, the story becomes much sadder. If your items get damaged in it, that’s even worse. The relevant questions here concern how to handle a property damage claim after an auto accident and whether you should get an accident attorney. Also, should you contact the insurance company with a property damage claim? This article will respond to these questions and many more.
What is property damage?
It refers to harm or injury that happens to anything except a person. It could be a house, tree, fence, car or items inside a vehicle like technical equipment, a laptop, textbooks, or your child’s car seat. Personal property damage in auto accident is illustrated based on its replacement value, repair costs and loss of use pending the time the damaged item is repaired, replaced or testimony according to their sentimental value supposed a family heirloom is a property in question. So, personal property damage in auto accident refers to car accident-related property damage.
Should you Notify the Insurance Company?
Immediately after an accident, the insurance company should be notified about the accident and a property damage claim submitted. An insurance company contract generally requires that you notify your insurer about the accident irrespective of who is at fault. That helps your insurance company to refer your damaged car to a body shop to get a car repair estimate if the other insurance company is delaying. Some insurance companies declare a car subject to repairs, replacement, or total loss only after additional inspections.
Note that the sooner you file your property damage claims, the better because your insurance company could have time limits. Filing earlier gives you ample time to dispute the amount offered if it’s not proportional to the damaged property. Also, based on the state you live in, a time limit for file lawsuits also applies and varies from 2 to 6 years.
Steps for Starting a Property Damage Claim After a Car Accident
The first step also applies to other types of accidents apart from property-damage-only accidents. Make sure no one was hurt. Next, call the police. The record of the accident will help your insurance company claim. Now, personally make your accident report. Include the following in it:
- Your vehicle damage and the at-fault vehicle
- The weather condition
- The location of the accident
- The damaged property in the accident;
- The condition of the road and all other relevant details
- Most importantly, ensure that you collect the insurance information of the other driver and the details of their license plate. Taking photos of the accident scene can help strengthen your insurance claim. Additionally, watch out and write down any at-fault statements that the driver makes against their interests. Statements like I’m sorry, It was my fault and others.
- Should You Hire an Attorney for a Property Damage Claim?
- Whether you need a lawyer for the insurance claim or don’t, it depends on the extra help you need in reviewing the insurance policy and also in case of a complication like your insurance company refusing to pay benefits or denying your claims baselessly. That’s when you may need a lawsuit. A lawyer will also help you with what to include in the release you will sign. For example, if you sign a release that covers all claims or include personal injury claims, you could lose your right to get bodily injury compensation.
- If you are not living in a no-fault state, you can decide to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party in a small claims court to recover the deductible that you did pay to your insurance company. However, note that small claims lawsuits don’t involve lawyers. You’re only entitled to a counsel to protect your rights, and it will expect some service fee.