Property Damage in the State of Georgia
What is Property Damage in the State of Georgia?
Car accidents are common. So common that according to this Forbes article, “By car insurance industry estimates, you will file a claim for a collision about once every 17.9 years. That’s if you’re an average driver, which, whether you’re willing to admit it or not, you likely are.” In the majority of car accidents cases, drivers will file a property damage claim and sometimes a personal injury claim. A property damage claim is a report that you submit to an insurance company seeking reimbursement for the damage to your property. This type of claim seems pretty self-explanatory, but let’s turn to Wikipedia to break it down further:
“Property damage is damage to or the destruction of public or private property, caused either by a person who is not its owner or by natural phenomena. Damage caused by people is generally categorized by its cause: neglect, and intentional damage. Intentional property damage is often, but not always, malicious. Natural phenomena causing property damage may be legally attributed to a person if that person’s neglect allowed for the damage to occur.”
Neglect, or in the legal world, negligence is the legal theory at the core of most car accidents. According to the American Bar Association, “A driver has a duty to use reasonable care to avoid injuring anyone he or she meets on the road. If a driver fails to use reasonable care and as a result of that failure injures you, then the driver is responsible (liable) to you for those injuries.”
What Counts as Property Damage?
Besides filing a personal injury claim, you can also file a property damage claim for the damage to your vehicle and contents inside. Car accident property damage claims are usually faster for an insurance company to process compared to personal injury claims.
There are three main components to property damage claims:
- Collision Repair Claim, or cost of the car repairs
- Diminished Value Claim, or loss in the value of the car
- Total Loss Claim, cost of repairs would exceed the actual cash value of the car
Property damage can also include items within your car. When speaking to an insurance company, make sure to include relevant non-auto property like:
- Items in the trunk
- Car seats
- Electronic equipment
- Items in the glove compartment
Statute of Limitations in Georgia
Once property damage takes place, the natural path to recovering losses is to file an insurance claim. The insurance company may have a timeline on how long they will except claims after an accident. Similarly, the state of Georgia also has a time limit on lawsuits filed for property damage. According to this website, the statute of limitation in Georgia is four years.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Property Damage Claim?
Usually you do not need a lawyer to file a property damage claim. Several phone calls to your insurance company and auto repair business should suffice. But, there are cases in which the insurance company denies your claim without a reasonable basis. In the legal world this is called “acting in bad faith.” Specifically defined on Wikipedia, “Under United States law, insurance companies owe a duty of good faith and fair dealing to the persons they insure. This duty is often referred to as the ‘implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing’, which automatically exists, by operation of law in every insurance contract.”
If this is the case, then hiring a lawyer is necessary to help take on the insurance company. There might also be a scenario where you want to take legal action against someone directly for the damage to your car (or property). In this situation you would benefit from hiring a lawyer to help file the lawsuit in small claims court. Lawyers can also offer guidance on a settlement.
Suing for Property Damage
An accident attorney can help walk through lawsuit options. HS Law, specifically, can help with car accident aftermath. They’ve handled thousands of personal injury and property damage cases and helped victims recover damages. The consultation calls are absolutely free.