According to a 2019 overview from the National Safety Council (NSC), motor vehicle damages reached over $463 billion in America that year. Unfortunately, property damages are one of the most expensive costs to recover after a crash, and it can be an uphill battle trying to secure a fair payout from the liable party.
But when you know how to sue a person for property damages in Georgia, you can collect a settlement covering all of your expenses from the accident. If you suffered property damages in Georgia, our guide below will help you determine the steps you need to take to secure financial recovery.
What Qualifies as Property Damage in Georgia?
Property damage is any harm to your personal property resulting from an accident. Most personal injury accidents involve insurance claims for both physical injuries and property damages. For example, this is common in car accidents where the victim suffered personal injuries and vehicle repair costs.
In property damage only claims, there are no physical injuries. So, for example, if a car accident victim’s vehicle suffered severe damages, but the victim did not endure any physical injuries, they can still seek recovery for the hefty repair costs.
Your case counts as a property damage only claim if:
- Your vehicle incurred damages in an accident
- You did not sustain physical injuries
- You do not require medical treatment
- Personal items (such as phones, laptops, cameras, glasses, child seats, or clothing) in your vehicle were destroyed or damaged in the collision
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Who Do I Sue for Property Damage After an Accident?
Following a collision, the at-fault party is responsible for your losses. If another driver, pedestrian, or a third party caused the accident, they are liable for your property damages.
However, you will seek compensation from the guilty party’s insurance provider unless they are uninsured. But just because the other driver has insurance doesn’t mean the insurance provider will be willing to reach a fair settlement.
The at-fault driver’s insurance company may refuse to pay for your property damages or offer a lower settlement than your losses merit. That is why it’s best to partner with a skilled Georgia attorney. Legal experts demand fair payments, hold insurance companies accountable, and take your case to trial to ensure you receive full compensation.
Five Steps to Sue Someone for Property Damage in Georgia
If you suffered property damage during an accident, there are five key steps to take when seeking financial recovery.
1. Gather Information from the Accident
As soon as the accident happens, start gathering information to prove your damages. Take pictures of everything that was damaged, from your vehicle to any items inside the car during the accident.
Next, report the accident to the police right away so they can file an official accident report. If there were any witnesses, ask for their contact information.
Georgia is a state that recognizes diminished value property damage claims. These laws force insurance companies to pay for your car’s loss of value after an accident. To ensure a proper payout, you will need to gather evidence like repair bills, vehicle mileage, and photos of your car before and after the repairs.
2. Get a Vehicle Repair Appraisal
After the insurance company assesses the value of your vehicle repairs, you must decide where to take your car for servicing.
The insurance company may try to make it seem like you must use their recommended repair shop, but that’s not the case. It’s best to go to a mechanic you are familiar with and trust. If your shop finds additional problems, they will work with the insurer to determine the cost difference.
Keep in mind that insurance companies will only agree to pay what they think is a reasonable cost. And since they are for-profit businesses, insurers are quick to fight you on what they’ll pay. But having a qualified attorney by your side can help you make sure the insurance company pays for all of your repairs.
3. File an Insurance Claim
You must file an insurance claim for reimbursement of your property damage costs against the at-fault person. In the case of a car accident, this will typically fall on their auto insurance company unless they are an uninsured motorist.
List all of the destroyed items in your claim. Include receipts of what you paid for repairs and photos of the property damage. A skilled accident attorney can help you with this. Under Georgia law, you have a right to recover for any item damaged in the accident.
4. File a Lawsuit in Court
In most cases, the at-fault person’s insurance company will be stubborn and unreasonable, pushing back against your claim or denying it altogether. Although it’s best to try settling your costs through civil negotiations, if the insurance company does not cooperate, then your lawyer may decide it’s best to sue them.
You can file a suit against the at-fault driver in a county court or bring a claim against the insurance company for being unreasonable. From here, your lawyer will build a strong case against the at-fault party. When preparing for trial, you will need to show proof that the other driver caused property damages and demonstrate the full extent of your losses.
5. Contact a Property Damage Lawyer
If you plan to sue someone for property damage in Georgia, you’ll need an experienced attorney on your side. Legal experts know how best to proceed with the lawsuit process and make the most suitable decisions for your property damage recovery.
Georgia Statute of Limitations for Property Damage Claims
In Georgia, residents have four years to file a claim for property damages, whether it is a real estate or personal property case.
It is rare for the Georgia courts to extend the statute of limitations deadline for property damage claims. Therefore, to ensure you receive fair compensation for your losses, file a suit as soon as possible. Missing the deadline to file can cause your case to be dismissed and prevent you from recovering your losses.
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A Georgia Accident Lawyer Can Help You Sue for Property Damages
If you were in an accident without bodily injuries but suffered significant property damage, don’t assume you can’t recover your costs. Instead, contact John Foy & Associates for help. We can provide a free consultation to review your case and determine how to recover your property damages. Call us at (404) 975-2979 now.