Property damage is harm to real or personal property. Real property consists of land and items attached to your land, including homes and other buildings. Personal property is all other property, including motor vehicles, boats, and other personal items.
Damage to your property can occur because of many reasons. For example, a driver causes a car accident that damages your car. Other examples could include “Acts of God” that cause damage to your home, such as a tornado, or even a maintenance facility that damages your boat.
If another party caused the property damage, they could be held responsible for the damage. For example, you might sue a negligent driver for a car crash or a person who intentionally damages your property.
In some cases, insurance policies might cover property damage. For example, liability insurance compensates a victim for damages caused by the insured. The policy must cover the specific cause of the property damage.
Texas drivers must have a minimum of $25,000 in property damage insurance coverage. If a driver causes a car crash, the driver can be held liable for damage to your vehicle. The liability insurance company would be responsible for repairs or replacement up to the policy limits.
Homeowner’s insurance policies and other types of insurance coverage might cover damage caused by Acts of God, intentional torts, or other disasters. For instance, your homeowner’s insurance policy might cover the damage caused by a flood or tornado. Likewise, a comprehensive insurance policy might cover damage to your vehicle caused by theft or vandalism.
The circumstances that caused the damage and the terms of the insurance policy determine coverage.
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Typically, the value of a property damage claim equals the cost to repair the property or replace the property. If the repairs cost more than the property is worth, the insurance company typically “totals” the property and pays the fair market value to replace the item.
For example, if another driver causes a car accident, you can file a property damage claim for your vehicle. The insurance adjuster inspects the vehicle to determine the amount of damage or instructs you to obtain an estimate from a body shop. The insurance company pays the repair bill if it accepts liability for the accident.
However, suppose the repairs cost more than the value of your vehicle or represent a high percentage of the value. In that case, the insurance company might “total” the vehicle. In other words, the company declares the vehicle a total loss.
The insurance company would offer to pay the fair market value for the car. Fair market value is determined using several factors including, but not limited to:
The insurance company might provide a comparison of similar vehicles for sale. Then, the company adjusts the average price of a similar vehicle based on the condition of your vehicle before the crash.
Insurance companies use a similar process to determine the value of property damage for real property. A claims adjuster inspects the property for damage. The homeowner usually obtains two or three estimates for repairs, and the insurance company makes an offer to settle the claim based on the repair estimates.
A property damage claim could also include other damages. For example, you might recover compensation for the loss of use of the property while it is being repaired. Additionally, you could have a claim for diminished value because the property is not worth the same amount it would have been worth had it not been damaged.
However, there could be exceptions. For example, if the person who caused the damage leaves the state, the deadline for filing a claim could be tolled (paused).
If you miss the deadline for filing a property damage lawsuit, you cannot file a lawsuit or demand compensation for the damage. Therefore, it is best to talk to an Austin property damage lawyer as soon as possible. Waiting too long to file a claim hurts your chance of recovering fair compensation for damages.
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You may be able to receive compensation for all of your damages caused by negligence or intentional torts. Contact our law office at FVF Law to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an experienced Austin personal injury lawyer at (512) 982-9328. Our legal team is here to help you as you work to recover from a devastating event.
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