LawFuel FAQ: Does Personal Injury Include Property Damage in an Auto Accident?

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The frequently asked question in personal injury lawsuits is whether property damage – such as motor vehicle damage in a car accident – is included in the personal injury claim?  Those injured want the responsible party to pay the cost of the property damage, as well as the personal injury damages that may be awarded or agreed to.

Essentially, the claims for personal injury and property damages are handled separately. But it depends upon the state in which you live.

As injury attorneys in Georgia, there are two different kinds of insurance laws in the United States: fault and no-fault. If you live in a fault or tort state, the person responsible for the accident is also responsible for paying its associated bills. This includes the bills for injury to you and damage to your property. 

If you live in a no-fault state, your insurance will pay your bills no matter who caused the crash. Georgia is a fault state, so you will file a claim against the at-fault person’s insurance company. 

In California, for instance, the California Code of Civil Procedure section 338 sets a three-year deadline on a situation where there is damage to a home through unlawful acts, or where personal property is damaged. The three year deadline for legal action applies whenever you are seeking compensation for the damage to your car, home or other property and regardless of whether it is part of (for instance) a motor vehicle personal injury claim.

The property damage claims time limits under the Statute of Limitations, for different states may be seen at this link.

Whose Insurer Will Pay The Bills?

According to Henningsen Injury Attorneys, there will be two sets of forms to fill out when you have a personal injury and property damage legal issue, which means you will need to carefully attend to both in order to obtain the compensation for the property damage you have suffered (quite apart from the personal injury issues).

Again, be careful to ensure the time limits and other issues are complied with in accordance with your state law.

The amount of compensation you receive will also depend upon a number of factors including your liability issues under the insurance you carry. Check your insurance details, or have your attorney check them through to see what you are entitled to.

In the state of Georgia, drivers are required to carry a certain amount of insurance. You must have bodily injury liability of $25,000 per person and $50,000 for each accident. You must also have a property damage liability of $25,000 per accident.

For personal injury issues you will also need to make sure you retain all doctors and other medical bills, including prescription and non-prescription drugs etc.

When it comes to auto repairs a similar situation arises. You will want to save the bills from the auto mechanic or obtain an estimate for auto repairs that you can provide to your insurance company.

If the damage to your vehicle was especially severe, you may wonder if you can simply get money for the car’s value. The insurance company will estimate how much your car was worth based on its age.

They will depreciate the automobile’s value for each year of its age. If the damages to the car are greater than its value, your car will be considered totaled, and the insurance company will have to pay you money for the car’s value. 

Comparative Fault

In many cases, an accident may be the fault of more than one person. In other cases, the accident may have been entirely the fault of one person, but their insurance company claims that the fault is shared. You need to also know whether your state jurisdiction is one that is a ‘comparative fault’ state or not.

Georgia is a comparative fault state. If you were more than 50 per cent responsible for an accident, you will be considered to blame for that accident, and your insurance will have to pay.

 Although the state of Georgia does not require it, it is a good idea to have personal injury protection. PIP or ‘no fault insurance’ does not cover damages to your car but it will pay medical and other expenses following a car accident. You need to remember that it is different from bodily injury liability insurance which pays for medical expenses incurred by drivers and passengers in other cars that are involved in an accident where you are at fault.

Sixteen states require PIP coverage and that means you must file a claim under the policy before using health insurance. It is a good idea to have the PIP coverage regardless of state requirements because you can also receive benefits like lost wage payments that health insurance will generally not provide.

Some states, such as New Jersey and Michigan, provide a coverage that works together with health insurance and PIP coverage which means, for instance, if you have a car accident in Michigan, your health insurance policy may cover your physical injuries and your PIP would cover other matters like economic losses, such as wages you lost incurred during hospitalization.

Get good help from a good attorney before dealing with insurers and others to avoid the risk of getting a poor result from your accident, both in terms of personal injury issues and property loss. An experienced attorney who is used to dealing with adjusters can land a better deal than attempting to negotiate something yourself.

Auto insurance statistics show an amazing amount of money expended on both insurance and in lawsuits, so taking expert help and ensuring you are aware of your state’s requirements in terms of insurance and time limits is a key towards getting the best outcome from unfortunate accidents.

Source: Henningsen Injury Attorneys, Georgia

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