Property Damage

If you have been involved in a car accident that resulted in property damage, it is important to understand the concept of liability and how it applies to your case.

Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to recover compensation from the other party involved in the accident. 

Vehicle and Personal Property Damage After a Car Accident 

The most common type of property damage after a car accident is vehicle damage. This includes physical damage like dents and scratches, as well as any mechanical issues caused by the crash. 

Vehicle damage also includes any parts or accessories that were damaged in the accident, such as tires or windshields.

In addition to vehicle damage, there can also be personal property damage after a car accident. This includes any valuables in your car that were damaged or lost due to the crash, such as laptops, cell phones, jewelry, and more. 

California Auto Insurance Requirements 

In California, drivers are required to carry at least $15,000 per person (or a total of $30,000 per incident) for injury/death to one or more people and $5,000 for property damage caused by any one accident. If you cause an accident, your insurance company will cover the damages up to the policy limits. Likewise, if someone else caused your accident, you should be entitled to compensation up to these minimum limits.

Establishing Negligence 

To obtain compensation from another party or their insurance company, you must establish negligence. To establish negligence after a car accident involving property damage, you must prove four elements.

First, you must show that the other driver had a duty of care to drive safely and responsibly (which all drivers on the road are required to do). Second, you must demonstrate that they breached this duty of care by behaving negligently while driving – for example, speeding or texting and driving. Third, you must prove that this breach caused your injuries and property damage. Finally, the damages sustained must be quantifiable into a monetary loss.

You need evidence such as police reports, medical bills, and photographs of vehicle damage in order to do this. It’s important to document everything following an accident because it can help strengthen your case if you decide to pursue legal action against another driver who was negligent on the road.

After The Accident – Assessing Vehicle Damage 

The first step when evaluating vehicle damage after an accident is for an insurance adjuster or appraiser to assess the car’s condition. This typically involves taking photos, noting any visible damage, and evaluating parts of the vehicle that have sustained impact from the collision. The adjuster will also use special equipment to gauge the extent of any internal damage that may not be visible on the outside. 

In addition to assessing physical damage, insurance adjusters also consider other factors like depreciation and replacement cost when evaluating a damaged vehicle after an accident. Depreciation accounts for changes to a car’s value over time due to wear-and-tear, age, and market trends. 

Who Pays For Vehicle Damage After a Car Accident?

In California, determining liability in car accidents follows a fault-based system. This means that the party that was at fault (or their insurance company) will be responsible for paying damages. For example, if one driver ran a red light and caused an accident with another vehicle, they would likely be held liable for any resulting property damage or personal injury. 

Typically, an insurance company will either pay the amount that is required to repair the vehicle or the actual cash value of the vehicle – whichever is less.

Comparative Negligence Rules

In some cases, both drivers may be found partially at fault for causing a car accident and resulting property damage. In these instances, California follows a rule known as pure comparative negligence, which states that any damages awarded will be reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault.

Let’s say you were driving and rolled through a stop sign. At the same time, another driver was speeding and ran a red light, crashing into you. You can recover compensation for property damage even though you were partially at fault. However, the compensation you receive will be reduced by the percentage you are found to be at fault.

For example, you were awarded $50,000 and found to be 10 percent at fault. You can recover 90% from the other driver, or $45,000.

Filing a Lawsuit If Your Damage Exceeds The Coverage Limit

If the other party was at fault for the accident and their actions caused significant property damage that exceeds the insurance coverage limit, filing a lawsuit may be necessary to obtain full compensation for those damages. 

A car accident attorney will help you navigate the legal process by filing all required paperwork and representing your interests in court if necessary. If you need help, contact Petrov Law Firm to schedule a free consultation by calling (619) 344-0360.