If you’ve been in a car wreck, it’s normal to be confused when it comes to dealing with property damage caused by the accident. Who’s responsible for paying for it? Do you file a claim with your insurance company or the other driver’s? Should you call a car accident lawyer?
Our car accident and personal injury law firm, with offices in Lafayette and Metairie, has helped countless car accident victims fight for fair compensation after car wrecks, so we know that most people in this situation have plenty of questions about the process. This article should answer most of your basic questions about property damage procedures following an auto accident – if you have a question not answered here, feel free to let us know.
What is Considered Property Damage?
As the term implies, property damage is any damage to physical property. This might include your vehicle, but it can also include property like:
- Property inside the vehicle that gets lost or damaged in the wreck (phone, laptop, or baby’s carseat)
- Property outside the vehicle (building, fence, or mailbox)
When filing a claim, remember that property damage is separate from non-tangible things like medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering. If you’re unclear about what damages you might be entitled to, seek guidance from an experienced car accident lawyer who can help you itemize the damages you’ve suffered.
Who is Responsible for Property Damage After a Car Wreck?
The at-fault driver is responsible for property damage after a car wreck, which means they’re obligated to pay compensation.
However, if you’re in a car accident in Metairie or Lafayette, it’s worth knowing about Louisiana’s comparative negligence law, which says that the damages compensation you receive may be reduced if you’re found to be partly to blame for the accident.
How Can You Seek Compensation for Property Damage?
If your property has been damaged in a wreck, there are three ways you can seek compensation.
File a Claim With the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company
The state of Louisiana requires drivers to carry liability insurance, which pays for damages they may cause in an accident. If the at-fault driver has property damage liability insurance, you’ll usually file a claim with their insurance company for compensation.
File a Claim With Your Insurance Company
If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance or their insurance won’t cover the full amount of damages to your property, you might want to file a claim with your insurance company.
You may also file on your collision coverage. However, any payment from your collision insurance will be minus your deductible.
Uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage is designed to cover the gaps between what the at-fault driver’s insurance will cover and the total amount of damages you’ve incurred. This can help you minimize financial losses after a wreck no matter what the insurance or financial situation of the at-fault driver is.
File a Car Accident Lawsuit
Car accident lawsuits can be stressful and time-consuming, but if you’re unable to cover the expenses you’ve incurred from a car accident through the insurance companies involved, they can be worth the effort. A local car accident or personal injury law firm will be familiar with your area’s laws and can help you understand your options and fight for what you’re owed, so you’re not just out of luck if an insurance company or driver doesn’t want to pay.
Increase Your Chances of Getting Compensation
What you do after a minor car accident can have a big impact on your chances of getting fair compensation. To increase your chances:
- Document everything at the accident scene (photos of road conditions and damages, other driver information, witness statements and contact information etc.)
- Familiarize yourself with the local laws and regulations (such as statute of limitations)
- Seek property appraisals and expert opinions
- Get help from an experienced attorney familiar with local laws
Let a Car Accident Lawyer Go to Bat for You
No matter how careful you are while on the road, sometimes bad accidents happen to good people. But you don’t have to pick up the pieces on your own – a knowledgeable car accident lawyer can walk you through the process so you don’t have to worry about the stress of settlement negotiations on top of everything that comes along with a wreck.
If you’ve been in a car accident in the Lafayette or Metairie area, don’t hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Blaine J. Barrilleaux to set up a free consultation.