Louisiana Property Damage Lawyer

Filing a Property Damage Claim in LA

traffic fatalitiesBart Bernard is a highly skilled, experienced personal injury and property damage attorney practicing in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. He has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of motor vehicle accident victims and will help you navigate the maze of insurance and personal injury claims in the wake of a traumatic collision.

The potential for physical harm is the scariest part about a car accident, but damage to your vehicle may also have a major impact on your day-to-day life. Your vehicle may be necessary to get to work, take the kids to school and practices, pick up medications, visit the doctor, and more.

In the aftermath of a collision, many people wonder what the next steps are. There is no need to proceed alone when a knowledgeable Lafayette & Baton Rouge property damage lawyer is here to help. It costs you nothing to call and have your questions answered.

What is property damage liability?

A property damage claim may be filed independently or in addition to a bodily injury claim after a vehicle crash.

Property damage liability insurance is designed to cover the cost of damage to a vehicle in an accident you’ve caused. If you have been involved in an accident that another person has caused, their insurance should pay for the damage to your vehicle.

Collision and/or comprehensive insurance coverage pays for damage you have caused to your own vehicle. In the State of Louisiana, the minimum auto insurance policy requires $15,000 (a person) and $30,000 (per accident) in bodily injury coverage and $25,000 for property damage coverage. This amount is not split per person – but, rather, covers the total amount per accident.

What counts as destruction of property in a car accident?

When we think of “property damage” in a collision, the crumpled vehicles themselves are often the first things we imagine. Yet, property damage can also cover damaged personal property like a house, fence, mailbox, lamppost, or other fixed object.

Some insurance policies cover permanent items purchased as vehicle upgrades, like stereo systems. Non-permanent items that happened to be in the vehicle, such as laptops, gifts, groceries, or other valuables, are generally not covered by auto insurance. However, you may be entitled to the fair market value for items damaged in the accident through the courts in a property damage lawsuit.

What is the right to recover diminished value?

Louisiana Revised Statute § 9:2800.17 allows vehicle owners to recover additional damages for the “reduced value of the vehicle” when the vehicle was damaged, but not totaled, due to third party negligence.

As the owner, you will need to provide evidence that the vehicle’s fair market value would be reduced, even if you paid for repairs to get the vehicle in the same condition it was before the accident.

Diminished value claims can be substantial if you are driving a newer, more expensive, or irreplaceable car. Accident victims must often outright demand diminished value coverage, though it is supposed to be provided by responsible insurers automatically. In your word against theirs, it helps to have experienced professionals like an appraiser from the dealership and a property damage attorney like Bart Bernard on your side who can validate your claim.

How to bring a property damage claim

Take these steps following an accident to seek compensation for property damage:

  • Notify your insurance company to investigate liability and seek reimbursement from the other party.
  • Take your vehicle to a collision repair shop to receive assessment of damage and an estimate of repair costs.
  • Send the insurance company the repair estimate by certified mail. Ask to be notified upon receipt.
  • The insurance company has 30 days from the receipt of the estimate to pay the claim – or face penalties.

Don’t settle for less. Make sure the insurer is willing to pay for correct, new parts. If your vehicle is considered a “total loss,” make sure you are compensated the full Kelly Blue Book value for your vehicle – no less!

When to call a property damage attorney

The expertise of a property damage lawyer costs you nothing unless a lawsuit is filed and won. It takes just a few minutes of your time to find a knowledgeable property damage attorney and get the ball rolling. An attorney will take a closer look at the known facts surrounding your accident to determine if you have received due justice as allowed by Louisiana property damage laws, or if you have the grounds to file a civil lawsuit.

If you have lost your health, time off work, personal property, or a loved one as the result of an accident caused (at least in part) by another party’s actions, then you may be entitled to significant compensation.

Insurance companies are notorious for putting up a fight to avoid paying what they’re supposed to! Don’t let them jerk you around. Call Bart Barnard to turn up the heat on these unscrupulous companies who promise to have your best interests at heart, but fail to live up to their end of the bargain after you’ve suffered devastating losses.

Additional Louisiana Property Damage Resources:

  1. Justia, Title 22 — Insurance, §1220. Redesignated as R.S. 22:1973 by Acts 2008, No. 415, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 2009. https://law.justia.com/codes/louisiana/2011/rs/title22/rs22-1220/
  2. DMV, Property Damage Coverage, https://www.dmv.org/insurance/bodily-injury-and-property-damage-liability-coverage.php
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