As indicated in a previous blog post (see Statutes of Limitations Related to Personal Injury Claims), the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit to protect your right to pursue the at-fault party for personal injuries is only two years following the accident (see The Roadmap of a Personal Injury Claim). The amount of time you have to file a lawsuit to protect your right to pursue the at-fault party for property damage is three years following the accident. In my opinion, these time limitations should be reversed. It’s quite a simple process to determine the value of a damaged or destroyed piece of property; so it would make sense that you should have less time to pursue compensation for that property than you would have to pursue compensation for personal injuries. Often times, victims of accidents have to undergo years of treatment for their injuries before they are healed or reach a point of maximum medical improvement (i.e., their health condition is neither worsening nor improving). So, the value of their personal injury claim may not be known in only two-years time, because of all of the variables at play (see What’s the Value of a Personal Injury Claim?). Fortunately, when it comes to valuing your property damage, there are very few variables and the process is relatively quick. Assume you have a 2000 Honda Accord. It was extensively damaged in an accident. The opinions of two repair shops is that it will cost $7,500 to repair. A quick internet search of a 2000 Honda Accord on sites such as Kelly Blue Book or Cars.com will provide you with an average market value of only $4,900. As such, because the cost to repair the vehicle is greater than the market value, the law states that the insurance company or the at-fault party is only obligated to pay you the lesser of the two valuations. The at-fault party will deem your car a “total loss” and will pay you $4,900, not $7,500. If the amount to repair the car was $1,500, then the at-fault party will cover the repair because it’s less than the car’s market value. This is a pretty straight-forward and non-complicated process. When you receive the market value estimates of your vehicle from the at-fault party’s insurance company, make sure you conduct your own research to make sure they’re valuing your car properly. Also make sure that the options/features of your car (e.g., moon roof, CD player, seat heaters, etc.) are used in their evaluation of other 2000 Honda Accords. You will receive a packet from the insurance company of comparable cars with each car’s options/features listed. Make sure those options/features are identical to your own. Our Auto accident attorney handles all aspects of your property loss claim with the other party to ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation for the value of your vehicle and related car-rental bills, storage fees, and towing fees you might have.
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