Personal injury lawsuits do not require you to have suffered a physical or bodily injury – they can also recover compensation for property damage even if that is all that you lost in the incident. In many cases, your property damage can be very costly, even if you were not actually hurt.
Whether your property damage came from a motor vehicle accident, products liability situation, or some other dangerous scenario that was caused by someone else's negligence, the personal injury lawyers at the Gilman & Bedigian law office in Philadelphia can help you recover the reimbursement you deserve to repair or replace the belongings that you lost in the event.
The Types of Accidents that Frequently Cause Property Damage
Not all personal injury situations cause property damage, and not all of the cases involving property damage are motor vehicle accidents. For example, slip and fall situations – where you are on someone else's premises, like a grocery store or parking lot, and get hurt by a dangerous and often hidden condition on the property – rarely lead to the loss of any of your belongings.
On the other hand, product liability claims often cause property damage. In some of these situations, the property damage that you suffer can even become the bulk of your losses. For example, defective cell phone batteries that overheat while charging can spark a fire that burns down your house.
Despite the possibility for this variation, though, the majority of personal injury cases that involve property damage in Philadelphia are car accidents. These events happen all the time, and every car crash has property damage of some sort, even if no one got hurt in the collision.
Compensation for Damaged Property
When the cost of repairing the damage to your property does not exceed the costs of replacing it, you can get reimbursed for your expenses in a successful personal injury lawsuit. However, there are two important limitations to the compensation that you can recover for repairing the damages to your belongings: you can only bring your property back to the state it was in before the crash, and you have a duty to mitigate your damages.
First, though, you have to prove the extent of the damage that you suffered. This is often simple and straightforward, though: in the context of a car accident, it can be accomplished by providing the repair bill from your garage or mechanic.
Once this evidence is provided, though, the personal injury defense attorney or the insurance company is likely to argue that the repairs were not necessary to bring your property back to the condition it was in before the incident that damaged it. Again in the context of a car crash, the other side will likely scrutinize the pictures of your damaged vehicle and look for any repairs that fixed anything that was not the result of the accident. For example, if the accident was a rear-end collision that ruined the back fender, the costs of repairing the car's radio will likely be vigorously challenged.
Further, lawyers and insurance companies representing the negligent party in a personal injury suit often claim that the victim did not mitigate their damages after the incident. Victims have a legal duty to keep the expenses associated with repairing their property in check. Paying well above market value for the same car parts that were damaged in a car accident, for example, can breach this legal duty and lead to compensation that does not cover the additional costs.
Compensation for Destroyed Property
If your property was destroyed in the accident, on the other hand, a successful personal injury lawsuit in Philadelphia will not completely replace what you lost: rather, it will compensate you for the fair market value of your destroyed property. This is often misunderstood and, while it is fair in most cases, sometimes leads to a dramatically reduced recovery.
For example, imagine a car accident that totals your vehicle. While most people think that this means they are entitled to a new car, that is not the case. Contrary to popular belief, losing a 2005 Honda Civic in a crash does not mean that the victim is owed a Mercedes, nor does it even mean they are entitled to recover a new Honda Civic. Instead, the personal injury law in Philadelphia treats the accident as if you sold your particular 2005 Honda Civic for a fair price and requires the at-fault party to provide compensation accordingly. Determining the fair market value of a car often leads a court to consult sources like Kelley Blue Book or NADA.
Unfortunately, the fair market value is not always fair to the owner. Especially when it comes to cars, the vehicle can be far more valuable to the owner than the fair market value reflects. This is particularly true when you do not care much for the visual appeal or the aesthetics of the car and focus more on its ability to reliably get from one place to another. Dings, scratches, and dents in the vehicle that you might not have cared at all about can reduce the fair market value even though they do not impact how well the car drives.
Additionally, just like with the compensation that you can recover for property damage, your reimbursement for destroyed property is still limited by your duty to mitigate your damages. While you can replace an old Honda Civic with a new BMW, it would breach your duty to mitigate damages and you may only be compensated for a small part of your new vehicle.
Gilman & Bedigian: Personal Injury Lawyers Representing Philadelphia
If you have been involved in an accident that was the result of someone else's negligence and suffered property damage, hiring a personal injury lawyer can still be worthwhile. With the help of the attorneys at the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian, you recover the compensation that you need to repair or replace your lost or damaged property. Contact them online to get started on your case.