What’s the Difference Between Personal Injury and Property Damage Claims?

Property damage is damage to real or personal property. Real property is a fixed property, such as land or buildings. Personal property is a property that is movable, such as televisions, cars, boats, clothing, paintings, etc. Personal injury is an injury to the body, emotions, and mind (psychological).

Most car accidents, even minor ones, result in damage to property. Severe accidents tend to involve personal injury (bodily injury) and property damage. Personal injury and property damage claims are handled differently because the laws for them are different. If you have any questions, an experienced LA personal injury lawyer will be able to help.

Property Damage Claims

A property damage claim covers damage to personal property during a motor vehicle accident. Typical damages include repair or replacement of a car, damage to items inside the car, damage to property outside the car, such as a telephone pole, fence, or building. It also covers things such as towing and rental car expenses. If your pet is injured in a car accident that is not your fault, you may be able to claim their vet’s bills and costs as part of your property damage liability claim. Your own insurance company may even pay a portion of your vet bills if you have collision insurance.

Insurance companies make it easy for policyholders who have collision damage insurance. If the other driver is responsible for the damage to your vehicle and you have collision insurance, your insurance company will pay to repair or replace your car and then subrogate (file a claim with and collect from the responsible driver’s insurance company).

Personal Injury Claims

A personal injury claim covers personal (bodily) injury for you and the injured occupants of your car. Unlike property damage insurance, it does not cover any animals who are injured or die from the accident. Personal injury claims cover pain and suffering or death, permanent injuries or scarring, past and future medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, among others. If the driver, who is responsible for the accident, does not have enough insurance, and you have Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage, you can submit a personal injury claim to your own insurance company. If you are injured, your Los Angeles personal injury lawyer will help you receive fair and just compensation for your injuries.

Do Lawyers Handle Property Damage and Personal Injury Claims?

Most personal injury lawyers do not handle property damage claims alone. But they may take care of your property damage claim if they are also managing your personal injury claim. In most cases, insurance companies know who is responsible for an accident, so obtaining reimbursement for property damage claims is relatively simple.

Most car accidents cause relatively little damage to property, and insurance companies are obligated by law to settle claims within a short time. In California, insurance companies must acknowledge property claims within 15 days, and settle within 30 days of acceptance or denial of the claim.

Property damage value disputes are often as little as a few hundred to two thousand dollars. It doesn’t make sense to pay a lawyer $600, so you can make the insurance company pay you $500 more than they offered. Besides, if you have collision insurance on your damaged vehicle, your insurance company will pay for the repairs or replacement of the car, and subrogate with the responsible driver’s insurance company.

As you can see, it is almost always easier to handle property claims yourself rather than hire a lawyer to settle it for you. But there are exceptions. If you have an expensive car, like a Rolls Royce, or there is extensive damage to a building or home, it may be worth consulting with a lawyer to see if the insurance company isn’t paying you enough.
Should You Hire an Attorney?

If you have relatively minor damage to your car or personal property, or minor personal injuries, it may be unnecessary to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you. Why? Because personal injury lawyers often receive one-third of everything you receive in a settlement. For instance, if you have $4,000 in property damage and $5,000 in personal injuries, you may be able to settle out of court, without an attorney, and keep all of the money. If you hire a lawyer, you will end up putting only $6,000 in your pocket.

If you have a car accident and are injured, call a Los Angeles personal injury law firm for help.

M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers has offices throughout Southern California.

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