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A Guide to Insurance Companies and Property Damage Claims

May 26, 2020

by Donaldson & Weston

insurance companies and property damage

Hopefully a guide on how to deal with insurance companies and property damage claims is all the information you would need after a car accident. If you’re lucky, vehicle damages are all the repairs you need. How do you know the right way to handle a claim? Do you submit information to the insurance company? Do you deal with the at-fault driver’s insurance too? Can you sue the at-fault driver?

 

Basics of Property Damage Claims

Unlike personal injuries and medical bills, property damages usually are a pretty straightforward number which is valued by the details of the car and damages. It’s hard to dispute the worth or value on the property a victim poses. Therefore, should be awarded those reimbursements for the full value of their losses. 

Unfortunately, insurance companies are known to low-ball offers and settlements to make as much profit as possible. Working with insurance companies can be a little more complicated. It is likely they will send an adjuster to offer you lower amounts after you make a claim. Even if it’s not enough to cover your vehicle. 

It is suggested to research the value of your car and not accept anything lower than the true value of your vehicle and letting the adjuster know you know how much it is worth. 

If the insurance company determines your car is totaled. You are entitled to a fair market value for your car. Totaled means it costs more to repair than its value. Researching the condition, year, make and model of your car can give you the exact value of what you are owed. 

 

You Can also Claim the Loss

In property damage claims, you can claim the loss of the ability to use the vehicle from the time of the car accident to when it is fully repaired or replaced. 

 

The Insurance Company has a Duty

Unless there is a dispute, the insurance company has a duty to to resolve your property damage claim within a reasonable and short period of time. It is forbidden for the insurance company to delay any settlements in order to influence you to resolve the claim within a shorter period of time or for a cheaper value... if the victim is dealing with both property and injury damages as a result of the accident. 

The insurance companies and property damages are refused to be paid to you what you are owed. Or if the insurance company denies your claim without a reasonable explanation, or considers you in “bad faith”. It is imperative to contact a personal injury lawyer and assume grounds for a lawsuit. 

 

Florida Law

In Florida the law states that, typically, victims are allowed to recover compensation, provided liability has been established as a result of the negligent driver. 

Hiring a personal injury lawyer to help resolve a claim made towards the at-fault driver is important. An attorney can make coming to an agreement on the settlement easier, and that is intended to cover all injuries and losses the victim has suffered. Individuals should make note, in order for insurance companies to maintain a profit, is by limiting their liability on all claims. Odds are, insurance companies will try to settle injury claims for as little as possible. Hiring a personal injury lawyer will ensure that all the victim’s legal rights are protected. 

 

How do you know which insurance company is going to cover losses?

It may be confusing to know which insurance company to contact after an accident. Should a victim contact their own company, considering you pay your insurance premiums each month for coverage. Or do you contact the at-fault driver’s insurance to cover all the damage costs?

Typically, if the liability has been proven towards the negligent driver, that driver’s insurance company will cover the property damage and other damages of the drivers involved. 

Fault is determined by a report written up by the police officer who accesses the damages of the car accident. They will determine which driver is at fault. Some of the negligent driver’s are guilty of the typical or common causes that result in serious accidents and property damages:

  • Distracted driving
  • Tailgating or following too closely
  • Speeding
  • Running signs or lights
  • Improper turns
  • Unmaintained vehicle 

If a police officer does not respond to an accident, it will be up the insurance company to determine fault. This fault is determined based on eyewitness accounts, statements made by the drivers and property damage evidence. 

It is possible to make a claim with your own insurance if the other driver is not insured. Also if your accident was considered a hit and run. If your accident claim is not as straightforward and you don't have any idea how to proceed. You can contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. 

 

What if your own insurance company refuses to cover your loss?

It is your insurance company’s duties to deal with your claim in good faith. If your insurance company refuses to cover any of your damages within their legal duty, you have the right to take legal action if your claim is valid. 

However, there are a few reasons your insurance company can refuse to pay any part of your claim. They include: If you made false statements, if you didn’t file in time based on Florida law, you didn’t provide enough information or the necessary documentation, or if your coverage was lapsed at the time of the accident. 

Based on Florida Law, the time limit for personal injury claims is up to four years. As well all the time for property damage claims, the limit is four years. 

 

Property Damage Values

All in all, property damage is a result of all types of values. It could be replacement value, loss of use, repairs, or even sentimental value. 

With the four year limit in the state of Florida, your insurance company will only accept claims within that time limit. It’s always better to file a clam as soon as possible to avoid passing beyond that limit. This also gives you some time to dispute specific amounts if you don’t agree with the value your insurance company is willing to give you. 

 

Write down details of accident report for insurance companies and property damage

Once it is established that no one was hurt during the accident. The next important thing to do is call the police. Your insurance company will need a record of the accident for documentation. 

In addition to the official report, it would behoove you to create your own accident report for specific details. Details such as:

  • Damage to vehicle and at-fault vehicle
  • Weather
  • Location it happened in
  • Property that was damaged
  • Road conditions
  • Any statements the other driver may have made
  • Other relevant information

Also take photos of the scene and collect the other drivers information such as contact details, insurance, license plate, etc. It also helps to take photos of the accident scene which can all help you in your claim later on with insurance companies and property damage.

 

Suing someone for property damage

There are going to be accidents where a lawsuit may be necessary to collect all the settlement you are owed. You can file a civil suit in small claims court to recover damages such as the deductible that you might have to pay to the insurance company.

However, Florida is considered a “No-Fault” state. You are generally expected to handle all claims through an insurance company. 

 

Get an attorney to recover all of your damages

A lawyer may be necessary to check out the case and get your car repaired as well as talking to big insurance companies that should be helping you. In previous cases, most property damage claims were able to be resolved with the insurance company on their own. It has become more difficult to settle fault with certain insurance companies and it’s necessary to obtain an attorney. This way all your rights can be laid on the table and your lawyer can assist you with recovering any losses, damages, or suffering you have sustained during this time. A personal injury lawyer will ensure you are treated fairly and within your rights. 

 

Call Us Today for a Free Consultation with a Car Accident Lawyer in Stuart

If you have sustained damages in a car accident, take time to discuss your options with an attorney as soon as possible. Contact the skilled personal injury attorneys at Donaldson & Weston. 

Our car accident attorneys in Stuart. We understand the devastating consequences and are passionate about helping the injured and their loved ones fight for the compensation they need to get their lives back. Call 772-266-5555 or send us a message to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation. If you are unable to come to us, a member of our team will come to you.