Many of the accidents that happen in Baltimore involve property damage of some sort. Motor vehicle accidents of all kinds – from those involving cars to trucks to bikes to motorcycles – come with a collision that damages the vehicles to some extent. In many cases, the vehicles are damaged past the point of repair or to such an extent that fixing them would cost more than simply buying a new one.
Property damage is a significant part of a personal injury case in Baltimore. With the legal representation of the personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian, you can rest assured that everything is being done to make sure that you will be adequately compensated for your losses.
Property Damage in Different Kinds of Accidents
Of course, motor vehicle crashes do not account for all of the accidents that can happen in the Baltimore area. There are a lot of other ways you can get hurt, through no fault of your own, because someone else acted recklessly or negligently.
Some of these types of accidents – like a slip and fall case where you slide on ice on a poorly cleared parking lot or are the victim of medical malpractice – rarely come with property damage, just serious personal injuries.
However, many others types of accidents, in addition to motor vehicle wrecks, can cause significant property damage, as well.
For example, products liability claims frequently involve property damage: When defective products break, not only are you left without that broken piece of property, but complications from the incident can implicate other pieces of property, as well. A defective cell phone battery that overheats and causes a fire can directly lead to tens of thousands of dollars of damage to your home.
Compensation for the Costs of Repairing Damaged Property
When the property damage that you have suffered was not enough to completely destroy what you own, the personal injury law in Maryland entitles you to recover the costs that it would take to repair your property to the condition it was in before the accident. This is often a relatively simple problem to solve, as the costs of repair tend to be reflected in the repair bills that you have paid in the aftermath of the incident.
In the context of a car accident that damaged your car, courts in Maryland in Baltimore will look to what your mechanic billed you for the parts and labor that were necessary to get your vehicle back up and running.
Importantly, the cost of repairing your property damage is limited to what was actually suffered in the accident. For example, if you were in a rear end car accident that damaged the back fender of your vehicle, you can recover the costs associated with repairing the fender. However, if the mechanic subsequently discovered that your timing belt was frayed and needed to be replaced, the cost of replacing the timing belt would not be recoverable in a lawsuit stemming from the rear end collision: The timing belt issue is a fix that is independent and unrelated to the crash.
Recovery for Total Property Loss is Limited to Fair Market Value
Another important limitation to the property damage that you can recover in a personal injury claim in Maryland is the fair market value of replacing lost property. While this limitation is fair in many cases, there are others where the fair market value of your property drastically underestimates what it was worth to you.
Again using a car accident as an example, the amount that you are entitled to recover if your car has been totaled in a crash is limited to how much the vehicle was worth if you had sold it at the time of the accident. To determine its fair market resale value, courts in Maryland and Baltimore turn to price guides like NADA or Kelley Blue Book, using the make and model of your car, as well as the age, mileage, and condition of your vehicle to determine its fair market value. Once the value has been determined, courts will then award an identical amount to compensate you for the property damage you have suffered.
In many cases, this leads to a just result, particularly when augmented with compensation for the loss of the use of your property. However, there are times when the fair market value of your vehicle is simply not enough. Particularly old cars that are not good on the eyes can have market values that are lower than one would expect, simply because they do not look new or are out of style. If you did not care about how your car looked and cared only for how it ran, you could find yourself without your reliable vehicle and with only a few hundred dollars in compensation. This is unfair because there is no reason why you should be punished for having a pragmatic approach to what you drive.
The Duty to Mitigate Property Damage
Finally, Maryland's personal injury law requires accident victims to mitigate the costs of the property damage that they suffer, preventing those losses from going past what is reasonable from the accident. This means car accident victims who pay for well above the regular rate for parts and labor to fix their vehicle will find that these extra expenses are not compensable in a successful personal injury lawsuit.
Baltimore's Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian
If you have been involved in an accident – motor vehicle or otherwise – and have suffered property damage as a result of the incident, you need legal representation to make sure you get the compensation that you deserve. Without it, you could find yourself paying for the costs of repairing or replacing your belongings out of your own pocket, when the damage was not your fault.
The personal injury attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian in Baltimore strive to represent accident victims in the courtroom and outside of it, advocating on their behalf for the compensation they need and deserve. Contact us online to get started on your case.