When we think of the consequences of an accident, we often focus on the physical and emotional injuries an accident victim may suffer. However, we should also consider the serious property damage that often occurs. Accident victims have often spent thousands of dollars on their vehicles and homes, only to have them destroyed by a negligent party in a matter of seconds.
Recovering compensation for property damage after an accident
Under Tennessee law, you must file a claim for property damage within three years of the incident that caused the damage. You may recover damages for the loss of:
- Real property: Your house, fence, vehicles parked on the property, etc.
- Personal property: Your vehicle and the contents of the vehicle (e.g., cell phone, pets, or jewelry).
Who is responsible for the damages?
Generally, if another party’s negligence caused your accident, their insurance company will be responsible for paying out damages. These damages may cover:
- Repair costs
- Rental vehicle costs
- Fair market value of your vehicle (if your vehicle is a total loss or the repairs cost more than the value of the vehicle)
In some cases, your insurance company will pay out damages under underinsured motorist coverage.
How do I prove someone else caused my accident?
The key to any personal injury claim is proving that another party is at fault for your accident. If you can show that another party was negligent, or breached a duty owed to you, and that their negligence caused the accident and damage to your property, you will have established fault. For example, if a driver ran a stop sign and struck your vehicle, the driver will likely be at least partially at fault for your accident due to their negligence.
What happens if I am partially responsible for my own accident?
Many accidents are caused by more than one party. Under the 49% rule in Tennessee, you must be less at fault than the other party to recover damages after an accident. For example, if you are found to be 30% at fault for your motor vehicle collision and the other driver is found to be 70% at fault, you will only recover 70% of your awarded damages.
Do I need an attorney to help me?
Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can be extremely helpful to prove that another party’s actions caused damage to your property. Your attorney can:
- Collect the evidence needed for your case (police reports, photos/videos from the scene, body shop invoices, etc.).
- Contact witnesses and experts to testify on your behalf.
- Speak to insurance companies on your behalf.
- Manage all aspects of your case, whether you settle or go to trial.
- Present your case in an effective way.
- Keep you informed throughout the process.
Handling your own case can be overwhelming. If you are planning to file a claim for property damage after an accident, you should consider speaking with an attorney as soon as possible.