Each year, across the United States, around 7.9 million crashes, involving approximately 13.6 million vehicles, occur that result in property damage. The NSC includes likely unreported property damage in those accidents. If you suffer an accident involving property damage, regardless of whether or not it involves serious injury, you may find that it causes a number of complications. You may have significant repair costs, which can cause a number of financial struggles. Not only that, you may find yourself without your vehicle for a significant period of time while those repairs take place.
Seeking compensation through a property damage claim can offer help dealing with those losses.
Can I Sue Someone for Car Accident Damage in Georgia?
Yes. After a car accident, you have the right to recover compensation for the damage to your property. That does not just include damage to the vehicle! Georgia law also allows you to recover compensation for the other items damaged in the crash, including things like:
- Any car seats in the vehicle that you will have to replace
- Bike racks and other add-ons to your vehicle
- Electronics in the vehicle that may have suffered damage in the crash, including your cell phone or laptop
Talk to a lawyer about what property damage may have occurred due to the accident and what compensation you can expect for those losses.
How Do I Pursue Compensation for Property Damage After a Car Accident?
In order to pursue compensation for the property damage you may have sustained in a car accident, you will need to start with a claim through the liable party’s insurance company. Do not perform any repairs on your vehicle before you talk to the insurance company, since the insurance company may refuse to acknowledge any repairs you may already have performed.
Take Your Vehicle to a Certified Shop
The insurance company will likely tell you where you need to take your vehicle for an estimate and repairs. You may have several options for local repair shops, or you may need to use a specific shop for the estimate. The shop will take a look at the damage to your vehicle and provide an estimate of the cost of repairs to the insurance company.
Submit an Estimate of Any Other Property Damage
You will have to let the insurance company know about any other property that suffered damage in the accident. You may need to submit receipts for items that you had to repurchase rather than repairing, like car seats. Make sure you include all property damaged in the accident, since you have the right to compensation for anything damaged due to the incident.
Insurance Company Approval
Once the insurance company has an estimate of the cost of repairs, one of several things may occur.
- The insurance company may approve the cost of repairs. If the insurance company approves the cost of repairs, based on the full cost needed to get your vehicle in working order, you can choose to begin the repair process.
- The insurance company may choose to total your vehicle. Sometimes, it will cost more than the value of the vehicle to take care of repairs. The insurance company may, then, decide to pay you the value of the vehicle, rather than the cost of repairs. Most insurance companies have a threshold of around 70-80% of the value of the vehicle. If costs exceed that amount, the insurance company may total the vehicle.
- The insurance company may deny the cost of repairs or pay for only a portion of those repairs.
Beginning Repairs on Your Vehicle
If the insurance company approves the cost of repairs, you may still have options for how you take care of those repairs. You can choose to:
- Have repairs performed at the shop that gave you the estimate. The shop will generally work with the insurance company to add any extra costs or take care of any additional needs. The insurance company will then typically pay the shop directly.
- Take care of repairs yourself at another location. The insurance company may pay out the value of those repairs to you, and you can use the funds to take care of your repairs. Sometimes, you may get a better estimate at another shop or prefer to use someone else to perform the work. However, in that case, you may have to take care of any additional costs yourself.
Does the Insurance Company Always Offer Reasonable Compensation for Vehicle Repairs?
Sometimes, the insurance company may decline to offer reasonable compensation for the repairs to your vehicle. Even if the driver has adequate coverage to take care of the repairs your vehicle needs, you may find yourself fighting for fair compensation. The insurance company may:
- Fail to offer reasonable replacement value for your vehicle after totaling the vehicle. You may, for example, discover that the insurance company will offer only a percentage of what your car was worth.
- Ignore the non-vehicle property that sustained damage in the accident. For example, you may have to replace car seats, vehicle attachments, or electronics in the vehicle with you at the time of the crash, but the insurance company may not want to issue a fair-value replacement for those items.
- Refuse to take care of the cost of repairs at a reputable and trustworthy shop.
- Pressure you to take the “cheap” fix when it comes to repairing your vehicle, rather than returning it to the shape it was in before the accident.
- Insist that you bear partial liability for the accident, which would mean that the insurance company does not have to pay out for the full value of repairs.
If you find yourself dealing with an insurance company that refuses to acknowledge the extent of the financial losses you sustained in the accident, having an Atlanta car accident lawyer on your side can prove critical. Contact an experienced attorney to learn more about your rights after an accident, including how you can pursue compensation for property damage.