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Can You Sue for Property Damage in a Car Accident?

Metzger Wickersham
Can You Sue for Property Damage in a Car Accident?

Although it keeps things simple to talk about property damage when talking about a personal injury claim, the truth is that property damage claims are not one and the same as a personal injury claim. This separation is perhaps no more noticeable than after a car accident. If you were not injured and required no medical attention, then you would not file a personal injury claim. But if your vehicle was destroyed in the crash, then you can still file a property damage claim.

In the average property damage claim, damages cited by the claimant will include:

  • Vehicle repair or replacement costs
  • Towing expenses if the car cannot be driven away from the accident
  • Rental car bills while the damaged is being fixed or replaced
  • Replacement costs for any personal property in the vehicle that was destroyed

When talking about car accident claims that involve injury, property damage is often bundled into the conversation because a crash severe enough to injure someone inside the vehicle is almost guaranteed to cause significant damage to the vehicle itself.

Do You Need an Attorney for a Property Damage Claim?

The total value of property damage following a car accident is often much less than what you might see in a typical personal injury car accident claim, which will demand compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. After all, a new sedan will cost about $20,000 on average, but a single day in the hospital can cost $5,000 on the low end of the price spectrum. Severe injuries call for extended hospital stays and special procedures, so the cost of care can skyrocket quickly.

Does the lower cost of property damage in an auto accident claim mean you do not need to get a lawyer? Not necessarily. With any interaction with an insurance company, you need to be mindful of what is said and what you sign.

The insurance company that provides your property damage coverage will probably give you a lowball amount the first time they offer anything at all. Once you sign a release agreeing to the amount offered, the deal is done, and the claim is closed. There is no going back or appealing a voluntarily signed settlement amount.

To help protect yourself from getting coerced into accepting an unreasonably low settlement, you can use an attorney’s legal guidance and counsel. Although, most personal injury attorneys do not accept low-value cases to keep their focus on clients facing life-changing financial situations and injuries. If your property damage claim only amounts to a few thousand dollars, then a car accident attorney might only offer general counsel but not representation.

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