CALIFORNIA PROPERTY DAMAGE
May 5, 2018
WHAT IS PROPERTY DAMAGE?
Property damage is any damage or destruction of public or private property caused by either a person who does not own the property or act of nature such as a fallen tree or an earthquake. Because property damage is such a broad term, examples of it can range from house damage to stolen personal items to wrecked vehicles. Although property damage is distinct from personal injury, individuals may still receive monetary compensation for losses by providing evidence, including replacement value, cost of repairs, loss in value, and loss of use until the property is repaired or replaced. In certain instances, property losses can be determined by considering sentimental value.
HOW DO I FILE A PROPERTY DAMAGE CLAIM?
Depending on the extent of damage incurred, you may be able to receive compensation after first filing a claim with a California Small Claims Court or Superior Court. Once the complaint has been filed, the defendant will need to be served. Both parties will be required to appear in court in front of a judge. Unfortunately, lawyers are not permitted to represent individuals before judges in Small Claims Court, though they may consult a lawyer between or after court.
Where the damage is significant, it may be to your benefit to seek out the help of an experienced property damage lawyer. This is because when the court requires you to submit a formal claim, an experienced lawyer will be able to help you gather evidence to help establish the amount of your loss.
WHAT IF MY CAR OR TRUCK WAS DAMAGED IN AN AUTO ACCIDENT?
Generally, the defendant’s insurance company is responsible for repairing any and all damages incurred. However, you may not be aware that in most cases you are entitled to reimbursement for all residual loss in the value of your vehicle in the State of California. Individuals have three years from the date of the accident to file a diminished value claim.
Diminished value occurs when a vehicle is involved in an automobile accident and, as a result, incurs physical damage, whether structural or cosmetic. Even if the vehicle is repaired, it is still worth less money than it was worth before the auto accident occurred. Depending on the law in the state where you sell your vehicle, you may be required to disclose any and all accidents that your vehicle previously was involved in. In California, car dealers are required to disclose certain types of damage. As a result, if you are trading in your car or truck to a dealer, the dealer’s inspection typically will reveal prior repairs which will decrease the trade-in value. Most buyers favor vehicles with clean records over vehicles that were involved in prior accidents. This means that you could end up receiving less money for your vehicle than if it had never been involved in an accident in the first place.
WHY SHOULD I CONSULT A LAWYER?
Depending on the type and amount of property damage incurred, you should consider hiring a reputable and experienced California property damage lawyer. This is because the legal process can be quite complex and, without guidance, you may end up short-changing yourself. A reputable lawyer will help you gather evidence, hire an expert, prepare and complete the appropriate legal documents, and prepare a strong case so that you will be able to receive the maximum monetary compensation for your damaged property.
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