Earlier this week, Jose Landazure, a 75-year-old Los Angeles man, lost control of his car and crashed into four parked vehicles in Huntington Beach. According to reports, the driver didn’t strike all of the vehicles at once, but “went back and forth three times.”
While no one was in the parked cars, Landazure caused a significant amount of property damage. The owners of those cars don’t have to cover the costs of repairing or replacing their damaged vehicles. Instead, Landazure, his insurance company, or the owners’ own insurers will be liable for those costs.
You Don’t Have to Suffer a Physical Injury to Get Compensation After a Car Accident
Fortunately, no one in the Huntington Beach car accident was injured. However, the vehicles involved in the collision sustained a lot of damage. Repairing or replacing a damaged vehicle can be incredibly expensive. Fortunately, in California, car owners don’t have to shoulder those costs on their own when they’re not at fault.
Car Insurance Companies
Anyone who owns a car in California is required to purchase minimum amounts of car insurance. At the very least, your car insurance policy must cover:
- Bodily Injury Liability: $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident, and
- Property Damage Liability: $5,000 per accident.
You can always purchase higher limits. When your vehicle is in an accident, your insurance policy will cover your injuries and property damage, up to the amount of your policy coverage. This is true, regardless of fault. So, if you purchased the state minimum, your insurance provider would pay up to $5,000 to fix or replace your car.
Of course, you’ll be responsible for your out-of-pocket deductible. If someone else caused your accident, you shouldn’t be responsible for any expenses, including your deductible. You can always ask the at-fault driver’s insurer to reimburse you for your expenses and out-of-pocket costs not covered by your own insurer.
What if someone else is to blame and it costs more than $5,000 to repair or replace your car? If that driver is insured, you can file a claim with their insurance provider. You can seek the difference between what your insurance company paid and the actual cost of replacing or repairing your damaged property.
You’ll need to devise a persuasive claim and demand letter. It’s important to know that insurance companies have methods in place to determine the value of damage to your car. These companies are notorious for denying claims without cause and doing whatever they can to minimize the amount of money awarded to accident victims. Don’t hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury attorney for help.
Suing the At-Fault Driver Personally
What if the other driver isn’t insured or their company denies your claim? You’re not out of luck. You do have the right to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for property damage. You can hold the driver who caused your accident financially responsible for your costs.
While lawsuits based solely on property damage don’t happen often, they can. This might happen if your car was extremely valuable, rare, or hard to fix.
Statute of Limitations for Property Damage Claims
Don’t wait too long to file a claim for damages after an accident. Most insurance companies reserve the right to deny your claim if it’s not submitted within a “reasonable” amount of time after an accident. What’s classified as “reasonable” varies from insurer to insurer. The best rule of thumb is to notify a company about an accident right away and submit a claim as soon as you possibly can. Prompt action will help to preserve your right to get the money you need to fix your car.
If you need to file a lawsuit, you’ll have a bit more time to do so. The statute of limitations for cases involving property damage is three years. So, you must file your claim no later than three years after the date of your accident. You’ll lose the right to recover compensation if you wait any longer than that.