Should I hire a car accident lawyer for a property damage claim?

It's not always easy to know when you need legal help. And, if you've been injured in a car accident, the last thing you may want to think about is hiring a lawyer. 

But, if you're dealing with property damage as a result of the accident, it might be time to consider hiring an car accident lawyer familiar with these types of claims. 

Insurance companies take an adversarial approach to the claim process, even those that seem straightforward. They may dispute the extent of the damage or the value of your vehicle if it was a total loss in the auto accident. 

Property damage claims can be complicated and time consuming. You may not know where to start or what steps to take. A car accident lawyer can help guide you through the process and make sure your claim is processed efficiently. Not only that, but a good lawyer will also work to get you the best possible outcome for your case.

You should proceed with caution and thoughtfulness even if you believe you weren’t injured.

Many car accident injuries may take a day or two before you feel pain or limitations. So, even if you think you dodged personal injuries, you should still seek medical attention and legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York

In this article, we'll take a look at when it's appropriate to hire a car accident lawyer for a property damage claim. We'll also discuss some of the benefits of working with an attorney. So, if you've been involved in a car accident and are facing property damage issues, keep reading! You may find that hiring a car accident attorney is the best course of action for you.

What is a Property Damage Claim?

A property damage claim addresses harm to anything other than a person. For car accidents, the foremost concern is repairing and replacing your vehicle. 

However, a property damage claim includes items inside the car like textbooks, laptops, mobile devices, and even your child’s car seat. These items may be jostled around in an accident, but they also incur damage from spilled food and drinks. 

Sentimental or valuable items also fall under this category, including antiques, jewelry, or inherited property. 

You do not have to be a driver or a passenger to file a property damage claim. If a car crashes into your home, fence, or landscaping, you are entitled to compensation to cover repairs or replacement. The driver’s auto insurance contains coverage for this type of property damage. 

When you file your property damage claim, the settlement includes replacement value, repair costs, loss of use, and subjective loss of sentimental value. 

Usually, these cases are straight numbers; they do not usually involve emotional elements like pain and suffering or reduced enjoyment of previous activities. 

How Long Do I Have to File a Property Damage Claim in New York?

Civil claims in New York are subject to a statute of limitations limiting the time you can file the property damage within three years after the accident. 

Suppose a car crashed into your front yard on December 22, 2021. In the crash, you lost two trees and a fence. You would have until December 22, 2024, to file a property damage claim against the driver. 

If you sustained injuries in the same accident that damaged your property, your statute of limitations is still three years. In the example above, if that car also hit you and broke your leg along with causing property damage, you have the same deadline as with the property claim - December 22, 2024. 

Who Do I Pursue for Damages?

Accident victims should ideally pursue the at-fault party for damages in personal injury and property damage claims. However, in many cases, a property damage lawyer may file with both the other party’s and your own insurance company.

There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, your own insurance policy likely contains a deductible. That is money out of your pocket.

You can pursue the other insurance company for that deductible while your insurance company files a subrogation claim against the other party. 

Second, New York’s no-fault laws may prevent the other motorist’s insurance company from covering your property damage. You may need to use your collision coverage to fix your car. If you file one, your insurance company will seek reimbursement from the other insurance company or your personal injury claim. 

Also, be aware that your insurance company may require you to notify them of the damage regardless of fault. Failure to do so may cancel your policy. 

What Do I Need for a Property Damage Claim?

First, if the property damage claim involved a car, truck, bicycle, or pedestrian accident, see a doctor even if you do not immediately detect an injury. At the time of the accident, adrenaline may keep you from feeling pain. 

Also, some injuries have delayed symptoms, including:

  • Whiplash
  • Internal bleeding
  • Concussion

These conditions may have long-term consequences or threaten your health if you allow them to linger. Head injuries and concussions are especially problematic; a mere headache may develop into a severe aneurysm if you do not receive a thorough exam and treatment. 

These frightening possibilities make a medical exam well worth it to confirm the accident truly unscathed. 

Even if you discover injuries and start treatment, you can still prepare for your property damage claim. Here is what you need to expedite it: 

  • Complete list of damaged property: If the accident involved a vehicle, you’d likely focus on the vehicle, whether a car, motorcycle, or bicycle. However, do not overlook the less obvious items. If you broke your glasses in a crash or your laptop screen cracked, include those items in your claim. 
  • Photographs: Start with pictures of any damaged vehicles, including your car, motorcycle, or bicycle. You could do this at the accident scene if you did not suffer injuries. Document dents and any property that sustained damage in the accident, including cracked device screens or food and drink spills. 
  • Gather documentation: Secure copies of any accident or police reports. These documents describe the accident in detail and reveal any essential witnesses’ identity. 
  • Repair or replacement estimates: Secure estimates for repairs to more expensive items. Ask the technician or customer service representative at the repair shop to itemize needed repairs, so you have details. That will help create a persuasive claim. If you pay for repairs out-of-pocket, keep receipts to pursue reimbursement. For replacement costs, you can use advertisements for a comparable vehicle or find a similar vehicle for sale at a dealership or private party. Document the prices and prepare to present them to the insurance company. 
  • See how your insurance company can help you: Many car insurance policies include rental car coverage, so you are not without a vehicle during repairs. If you need a laptop or device for work, check your coverage on those items. You may be able to expedite their replacement or get loaners during repairs. Before assuming you’re left high and dry without needed items, see if insurance can help you fill the gap. At the very least, you may get lost wages coverage if you cannot earn income during repair times. 
  • Consult an auto accident attorney: You have nothing to lose if you schedule a free consultation and discuss your claim with an attorney. A lawyer can review your claim documentation and assess your chances of recovery. They may also suggest additional evidence and advise you on how to best proceed. While these claims do not bring in large settlements like injury claims, you still deserve to come out of this fully compensated. 

If you are injured, both the injury and property damage claims can be processed simultaneously. However, since property damage is relatively easy to document and prove, it will likely conclude quicker than your personal injury settlement or verdict. 

How Can a New York Lawyer Help with a Property Damage Claim?

Hiring an attorney to handle your property damage delegates the difficult parts of property damage claims to a trained professional. By relieving yourself of the work of gathering estimates, gathering information, and returning calls from the claims adjuster, you can simply live your life whilst we handle these hassles that can arise after an accident. 

During a personal injury case a New York lawyer can help you:

  • Evaluate your case and identify your next steps
  • Determine the identity of the at-fault party and their insurance company
  • Prepare the case for filing a property damage claim
  • Help you seek the most compensation for your damaged property

If your claim arose from a motor vehicle accident, we ensure the driver’s insurance company treats you fairly. Insurance adjusters may try to lowball the offer or underestimate the fair market value of your property or the cost of repairs. 

We make sure the at-fault driver is held responsible and that any property damage settlement covers all the damage to your personal property. 

If you sustained injuries from the property damage, an attorney frees up the time spent on insurance claims for you to focus on recovery. Even seemingly minor physical injuries like whiplash become time-consuming with medical treatment, physical therapy, and pain management. 

Also, some people experience mental distress after being involved in an accident. 

You may need legal assistance to have time and space to process the experience and move on from it. 

Call our Law Office Today for Advice on Your Property Damage Claim

The knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm can protect you from unintended outcomes as well as help you understand your legal rights and options. 

If you've been involved in a crash, or your car was damaged in one, and you want to discuss your legal options regarding compensation, complete the contact form online or call 212-268-3222 to schedule a free case evaluation with a New York accident attorney. 

Andrew Levine
Andrew J. Levine is a partner at Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, in New York, NY. A graduate of Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University. For 15 years he has been widely trusted and respected as a formidable attorney but acknowledged as a reasonable and ethical collaborator who impresses clients, judges and jurors alike. Andrew has been featured in New York Magazine as one of New York’s “Top Personal Injury Litigators” and recognized by Super Lawyers as a “Top Rated Personal Injury Attorney in New York.”
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