If you’ve suffered property damage in Georgia and are thinking about suing the responsible person or party, it’s important to understand how to do so. Details matter when filing a property damage suit for any type of damage in the accident. Below, we’ll cover what you and your lawyer will need to do to sue something for property damage in Georgia.
What Counts as Property Damage in Georgia
Property damage means any damage to your personal property resulting from an accident.
In personal injury accidents, you’re usually making an insurance claim for both physical injuries and property damage. This is common in car accident cases where the victim is injured but also has high costs related to vehicle repairs. But in property damage only claims, there are no physical injuries involved.
It’s good that these claims are possible, since vehicle repair or replacement costs are often the largest portion of a property damage claim. For example; if someone is in a car accident and their vehicle is badly damaged but they suffer no physical injuries, they can still seek recovery for the hefty repair costs.
Your case counts as property damage only claim if:
- Your car or other vehicle was damaged in an accident
- You did not sustain physical injuries and won’t need to seek medical treatment for any injuries related to the accident
- Other personal items, such as phones, laptops, cameras, glasses, or clothing, in your vehicle were destroyed or damaged in the accident (This also includes car seats!)
Five Steps to Sue Someone for Property Damage in Georgia
If you were in an accident with no bodily injuries but you had property damage, there are some important steps for you to take when seeking financial recovery for your damages.
1. Gather Information from the Accident.
As soon as the accident happens, you’ll need to start gathering information to prove your damages. Take pictures of everything that was damaged—to your vehicle and any items that were inside the car during the accident.
Also, report the accident to police right away so an accident report is created. And if there were any witnesses to the accident, ask for their contact information.
Georgia is also a state that recognizes diminished value property damage claims, which obligates insurance companies to pay for your car’s loss of value after getting into an accident. For this, you’ll want to gather facts like all repair bills, mileage of your car before the accident, and pictures of your car before and after the repairs.
2. Have Your Vehicle Appraised for Repair.
After the insurance company has assessed the value of your vehicle repair needs (known as the appraisal), you’ll need to decide where to take your car to get repaired. 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 your own mechanic for the repairs so it’s fair. If your shop finds additional damages, they’ll need to work with the insurer to determine the difference in costs.
However, insurance companies will only agree to pay what they think is a reasonable repair cost. And since they are for-profit businesses, insurers are quick to fight you on what they’ll pay. This is where having a good attorney can help you.
3. File an Insurance Claim.
You’ll need to first work to file an insurance claim for reimbursement of your costs against the at-fault person. In the case of a car accident, this will typically fall on their auto insurance company (unless they happen to be an uninsured motorist).
You should list all damaged items in your claim. Be sure to include receipts of what you had to pay and any pictures of property damage from the accident (again, taken as soon as possible after the incident occurs). A good property damage lawyer 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 the negotiation of your claim, if the insurance company denies that claim, your lawyer may decide it’s best to sue them.
You can file suit against the at-fault driver in a county court or bring a claim against the insurance company for “bad faith” if you believe that are being unreasonable. From here, you and your lawyer will need to work together, building a strong case against the at-fault party. You’ll need to be able to show proof that the other driver caused the accident and your property damage—and the full extent of your damages.
5. Contact a Property Damage Lawyer.
If you plan to sue someone for property damage, you’ll need an experienced attorney on your side. They will know how best to proceed with the lawsuit process and in making the best decisions for your property damage recovery.
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer for Free Today
If you were in an accident without bodily injuries but you suffered significant property damage, don’t assume you can’t recover for your costs. Contact John Foy & Associates today for help. We can give you a FREE consultation to go over your case and your damages. We have more than two decades of standing up to insurance companies and making them pay for what you deserve. Call us today at 404-400-4000, or complete the form to your right for your free consultation.