Recovering from a car accident often means substantial medical bills and a lengthy recovery. When you do heal and can return to your life, you need your vehicle back for work, travel, and family demands. When your car has been damaged or totaled in a crash, you need it repaired or replaced right away.
Property damages can be one of the most expensive costs to recover after an accident. You may face a battle in trying to secure a fair payout from the person who caused the crash. But when you know how to sue someone for property damage in Georgia, you can collect a settlement that covers all your expenses.
The car accident lawyers of John Foy & Associates can help you obtain the most satisfactory compensation for the harm you have suffered.
Why Should I Seek to Recover Property Damage from my Car Accident?
In the most recent reporting year, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimated that about 13.6 million vehicles suffer damage from automobile crashes each year. If you escape a collision without bodily harm, you can consider yourself lucky, but you may still suffer losses if your car or other items are damaged. It is important to seek compensation from whoever caused your accident through a property damage claim.
You can file this type of claim when:
- Your vehicle incurred damages in an accident.
- You did not sustain physical injuries.
- You do not require medical treatment.
Many popular models of cars and trucks can incur significant repair costs when damaged in a collision. For example, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS-HDLI) reports that repairs for the Dodge Ram 3500 crew cab pickup truck are approximately 139% higher than average costs. In addition, a repaired vehicle is worth much less for a resale or trade-in, compounding your losses after a crash.
Something many people overlook is that you can seek compensation for any other items broken in the accident. For example, if you had a trunk full of birthday presents, expensive golf clubs, or your laptop computer in the car at the time, those items should be included in a property damage claim. Other valuables include cellphones, cameras, glasses, child seats, or clothing in your vehicle that were destroyed or damaged in the collision.
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Who Do I Sue for Property Damage After an Accident?
Regardless of whether it was another driver, a pedestrian, or a third party who caused the accident, the at-fault person must reimburse you for your property damages. If there are multiple individuals who contributed to the accident, you can take action against all of them. You should seek compensation from the guilty party’s insurance provider unless they are uninsured.
Keep in mind that just because the other driver has insurance does not mean the insurance provider will be willing to reach a fair settlement. Insurance companies are not fond of paying out claims, even when their policyholder is clearly at fault.
They employ teams of adjusters and lawyers who are experienced in questioning evidence and proof of the at-fault driver’s liability. They work diligently to reduce or deny your claims. They may refuse to pay or offer a lowball settlement, hoping you will accept it and close the case.
Having a skilled car accident lawyer from John Foy & Associates can make the difference in getting the full compensation you deserve. Our attorneys are legal experts who will demand fair payments, hold the insurance companies accountable, and take your case to court when necessary to be sure you receive the reimbursement you are owed.
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.
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.
Do not admit any fault or guilt when interacting with any other drivers or with police. Saying anything at this point could be detrimental to your claim later on.
Report the Accident to the Police
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. Share your insurance and contact information with other drivers as needed. Again, do not apologize or say anything other than your contact and insurance details.
If someone pressures you to tell them what happened, insist that you need to speak with your lawyer first.
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.
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. Many insurance companies will recommend specific repair shops and may even imply that you must use those businesses for repairs. This is not the case.
You should go to a mechanic you are familiar with and trust. If you do not have one in mind, you can ask family or friends for recommendations. Your lawyer may also have suggestions.
If the repair shops find additional problems with your vehicle, they can negotiate with the insurance provider to decide the cost difference. Insurance companies are only interested in paying what they think is reasonable for your repairs. They will often fight for lower-quality parts or refuse repairs they deem unnecessary.
This is when it is critical to have a qualified car accident attorney by your side. They will work with the insurance company and mechanic to ensure all your repairs are paid for so your car looks and performs like it did before the crash. Because your car will already be less valuable after an accident, your lawyer should help you recover the most compensation possible for fixing it.
File an Insurance Claim
You should notify your automotive insurance company about your accident, but you may not need to file a claim on your own policy when someone else is at fault. Usually, you will try to file against their insurance first.
One significant exception is when the driver responsible for the crash does not carry insurance. In that case, you would need to use your own policy to cover the repairs, provided you have uninsured motorists coverage.
No matter who you are filing your claim with, make a complete list of all the destroyed items in your claim. If you still have receipts or can find the transaction in your banking or credit card statements, include that proof of cost. Take photos of the damage to all your property and try to collect any photos of the items prior to the damage, if available.
Every piece of documentation you can provide to support your property damage claim will help your attorney build a strong case.
File a Lawsuit in Court
It is common for the at-fault person’s insurance company to stall, delay, and be unreasonable, pushing back against your claim or denying it altogether. When you and your lawyer have tried your best to settle the costs through civil negotiations and still cannot reach a fair settlement, it’s time to go to court.
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 use the evidence you have collected as a solid foundation for the claim against the at-fault party. When preparing for trial, you will need to show proof that the other driver caused property damage and demonstrate the full extent of your losses.
Contact a Property Damage Lawyer
If you plan to sue someone for property damage in Georgia, you will 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.
Your attorney should help you collect evidence from your previous actions along with categories of information you may not have had access to. A partial list of the types of evidence you will find useful includes:
- Photos of the weather and road conditions
- Photos of other vehicles damaged in the crash
- Police reports
- Traffic camera and dashcam footage from all available sources
- Witness statements
- Accident investigator reports
- Repair bills and estimates
- Inventory of all personal items damaged or destroyed in the crash
Insurance companies employ accident investigators to determine what happened and who is at fault, but they will attempt to minimize the liability of their policyholders to reduce what they owe you. A qualified car accident lawyer will hire an independent investigator and automotive repair experts to ensure you have a fair and objective assessment of the crash and resulting damages. They can also provide you with a list of recommended repair shops if you do not have one in mind.
Georgia Statute of Limitations for Property Damage Claims
Georgia Code §9-3-32 allows residents a maximum of 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.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer to Sue for Property Damages
If you were in an accident without bodily injuries but suffered significant property damage, do not assume you cannot recover your costs. Instead, contact John Foy & Associates for help. Known as The Strong Arm across Georgia, we aggressively negotiate with insurance companies for the most compensation available for your property repairs or replacement.
Our attorneys have successfully secured over $1 billion in jury awards and settlements over the past 20 years for our clients. You pay nothing until we win for you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation so we can discuss your situation and you can understand your options.