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May 5, 2018

You’ve just been involved in a car accident: Your new Mercedes now has a dented fender and your brand new Bulgari watch was smashed when during the impact your wrist struck the steering wheel. You’ve suffered extensive property damage and now need to negotiate with your insurance company to ensure you receive fair compensation for your damaged property.

First you need to decide what type of claim to file. Filed claims for property damage take three forms:

  •  A claim against the liability insurance of another person involved in the accident. This is called a third-party claim.
  •  A claim under your own uninsured motorist coverage if your uninsured motorist coverage includes property damage, and the other motorist was not insured but was at least partly at fault.
  •  A claim under your own car insurance, even if you were 100 percent at fault.

If the accident did not involve another vehicle, then you can only file a third-party claim to receive compensation for any property damage caused by the car accident. Keep in mind that property damage claims are not part of the damages formula for determining injury compensation. Rather, property damage claims are calculated separately and, in the case of vehicle damage, are usually settled far more quickly than the attendant injuries from an automobile accident.


The process of filing a claim will vary depending on whether you need to file a third-party claim, an uninsured motorist claim or a claim under your own car insurance. Regardless of the type of claim filed, property-damage negotiations are usually carried out soon after the accident, and are usually conducted over the phone. The insurance adjuster will request from the property damage claimant copies of written repair, reports on the inspections of damage and proof of an item’s market value.

When it comes time to deal with your insurance adjuster, be reasonably wary of any offers during the period immediately following your accident. Insurance companies will try to engage you in conversation about your accident. Do not admit, sign or reveal anything to your insurance company unless you are represented by an attorney trained in property damage and automobile accidents. Your own interests and those of your insurance company will always conflict, especially in cases involving uninsured motorists.

The investigation conducted by your insurer will only be undertaken with the goal of reducing the insurer’s financial obligation. Therefore, it is important that you seek legal counsel if you become involved in an automobile accident. One of insurance companies’ more devious tricks is to misrepresent the amount of their policy limits in order to settle cases for far less than the nature of the accident-related personal actually merit. Insurance companies might also advise their client not to seek the services of an attorney, threatening that the attorney’s fees would consume any settlement doled out to the victim. And some insurance agents attempt to coerce their clients into signing documents under false pretenses, thus ensuring their clients forfeit their right to a just settlement. However, remember that, with the exception of certain ones assigned to large and complex cases, insurance adjusters usually have no specialized legal or medical training.


It is important that you follow certain steps when involved in a vehicle accident involving property damage. If you find yourself involved in an automobile accident, make sure that you:

  1. File a police report.
  2. Seek medical attention. Even if you feel fine, consult with a medical professional, or visit an emergency room, so that there may be documentation of any injuries.
  3. Remain at the scene of the accident.
  4. Exchange information with the other motorists involved in the accident. Exchange driver’s license and vehicle registration information. Make sure to write down the motorist’s name, address, telephone number, date of birth, driver’s license number and expiration date, and make sure you write a description of the other vehicle (make, model, license plate number, expiration date and vehicle identification number). Last, make sure you copy down the name and contact information of the other motorist’s insurance company.
  5. Take as many pictures as you can of the crash scene and any additional property damage.
  6. Take down the names and contact information of any witnesses.
  7.  Never admit fault at the scene of an accident.

Because it is often hard to retain accurate memories of an accident, keep a running log of details related to your accident. Write down such details as the time of day and week the accident occurred, the name and badge number of the attending police officer, the purpose of your trip and details about the accident location. These details will come in helpful when settling a claim with your insurance company.


You should pursue cases of extensive property damage to your vehicle and other belongings with the aid of an attorney trained in the laws and regulations governing property damage. Conduct research and find an attorney that can best handle your case and aid you in negotiating with your insurance company. Don’t be afraid to ask your attorney how many years’ experience he or she has had handling cases similar to your property damage claim.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the often complex process of filing a property damage claim with your insurance company. Seek the aid of a lawyer experienced in property damage claims instead. A lawyer trained in property damage can help you win adequate compensation from your insurance company, because he or she will be able to secure access to documents concerning your accident that you otherwise would not be able to access. They can also aid in negotiations with claims adjusters. Most importantly, a property damage attorney can ensure you receive suitable compensation for property damage sustained in an automobile accident from your insurance company.

Find more like this: Personal Injury

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“Amazing people, they had my claim for about a week before they were able to get my truck totaled out. Otherwise I would have been stuck with a truck that had heavy front end damage if they hadn’t stepped in to help me. I tried to deal with my insurance company myself for over a month and that got me nowhere, all I got was a massive headache and a messed up truck. They are very professional and act quickly on your claim. I highly recommend them to anyone who is looking for help.”

Candy J.


“I was in an accident and decided to call Wattel and York. After months of going to a Chiropractor, I finally felt better. When it came time for settlement, the insurance company was making an offer I wanted to accept, Mr. Wattel advised against it and felt the insurance company was shortchanging me. He recommended I file a lawsuit and that will get them to cave. Well, Dave filed suit, and sure enough, the insurance company increased their offer by $4,000! I am very satisfied with how my case was handled.”

Nardeasha S.


“Wattel & York were flat out outstanding with my personal injury case. They made the process painless and kept in constant communication throughout the entire time. Any questions I might’ve had were promptly answered and detail oriented. They gave me crucial advice that I would’ve otherwise not been aware of. I couldn’t have asked for more from them. Put your trust in these guys, you won’t be disappointed. Thanks Wattel & York.”

Mattew P.


“Thank you so much for all your hard work on our behalf! Thinking I could handle it on my own, I was originally reluctant to take my accident claim to an attorney. But I am SO glad I called you instead. Your people were always helpful, pleasant and responsive at every step along the way. You represented us with honesty and integrity and made a traumatic experience as painless as it could be. And best of all, you helped us get a settlement that was fair and far more than I could ever have negotiated on my own! I highly recommend Wattel &York to anyone who has suffered a personal injury.”

Cathy M.

“I was the passenger in a vehicle that was 'T- Boned' at an intersection in 2014. The issues of responsibility and recovery became a difficult and convoluted confusion. I really needed help. This Team at Wattel and York walked me patiently and encouragingly through difficult months, sorting through issues and finally arriving at a satisfactory conclusion. I especially want to name two great and encouraging "warriors" of Wattel and York who directed me along the way..Brian Torba and Melissa Patterson..to them and the whole team I say "Thank You" with heart felt gratitude. Sincerely, God Bless You.”

Robert G.

“Honesty. Integrity. Transparency. Partnership. Wattel & York brought all of these qualities and more to my accident case. I'd love to thank all of the team members who helped me with the process: David Guzman, who conducted the initial interview in my home, Aly Shomar-Esparza, who seamlessly guided me through paperwork and filings, Debbie Harrach, who conducted final review, paperwork revisions and scheduling, and Thomas Grisoni, who counseled me before and attended my deposition. I never felt alone during the arduous process and always knew there was a professional team looking out for my best interest. I highly recommend Wattel & York if you are unfortunately involved in an accident that was not your fault.”

Russ W.

“I was a passenger in a car that got t-boned a few years ago and got a huge gash. I didn't know a lot about lawyers, so I basically just picked one on the flip of a coin. I called Wattel and York and they explained everything, I went into the office and filled out paperwork. Got treatment on my gash over the time I worked with them, glad I did as it opened back up a couple times and bled. They did really good, got me the maximum amount of money, and made sure I was well taken care of. I was updated from time to time so that was good. The only thing I might change is I never got to thank or talk to my lawyer. I think it was because I was already used to dealing with the lady at their Glendale office so they just kept her as my point of contact. So it's okay, I'll thank them with a good review. The last thing I could say about them is months after I thought my case was over they called me and said they had another check for me for a few hundred dollars. Apparently, they negotiated with the hospital I went to after the accident. It was a nice surprise and shows they really had my interests in mind.”

Trent B.

“Wattel & York has been great for me in the past few years. I was involved in a really bad accident while I was on Active Duty in Yuma, Arizona and they have been patient with me every step of the way through a very long process. I would recommend them to anyone thank you for all your help.”

Levy G.

“Appreciate David taking the time to speak with me. He was most kind. From the front line with the receptionist, to him, the firm was a class act all the way around.”

Claire B.

“Dave Wattel represented me and my son on a Personal Injury case from a motor vehicle accident back in 2009. Jake P. handled my deposition and Dave did the Quarterbacking. The insurance company hired NFL referee Ed Hochuli's firm to try and deny our claim. But Wattel & York made it look as easy as Tom Brady on the football field. The result was more than acceptable and my son and I were compensated for our injuries and rehabilitation. Dave Wattel cares about his clients. If I ever find myself in a situation like this again, Wattel & York will be on speed dial!!”

Vince C.

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