You can sue after a car accident even if you were not hurt and only your vehicle incurred damages. In this situation, you could file a property damage lawsuit. You can also sue to recover the cost of treatment for emotional distress.
Even if you were not injured, damage-only crashes could still be quite expensive. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), damage-only crashes cost more than $71 billion in 2010. The Veteran’s Administration (VA) reports that treatment for PTSD can cost $4,100 in the first year. A car accident claim might help you recover those costs.
Property Damage Claims
A property damage claim is a way to recover compensation for damage sustained in an automobile accident caused by someone else. You typically file a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company, which will pay for your losses.
In most car accidents that result only in property damage, you will not have to escalate an insurance claim to a lawsuit. However, the Insurance Research Council reported that approximately one in eight motorists does not have insurance. If an uninsured motorist caused the accident, a lawsuit might be your only option.
Building a Case
In a property damage claim, you typically have to prove three things to show the other party’s negligence.
First, you must show that the other driver’s actions caused your property damage. An example would be if the other driver rear-ended your car because they followed too closely. Second, you must prove that the person failed to exercise a reasonable standard of care before the accident. In our previous example, if the other driver texted while driving, this might have caused them to rear-end your car. Finally, you must demonstrate tangible financial losses.
Filing an accident report can prove key to a property damage case. If the police responded to the scene, their report could also show who was negligent. If you have yet to do so, make sure to file a report. Other evidence you can collect to bolster your case might include photos and videos of the crash site, witness statements, and repair bills.
The compensation you could recover in a property damage claim includes:
- The cost to repair the damage to your vehicle or other property.
- The cost to replace the vehicle or other property.
- The cost of public transportation while you could not drive your vehicle.
- The cost of a rental vehicle while repairs were performed on your car.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the compensation you could receive from the other party’s insurance company following a car accident. You should save any bills you incur for expenses related to the accident as proof of your losses.
Settling vs. Going to Trial
Most car accident claims settle outside court because it is less expensive and less time-consuming for everyone involved. The insurance company will most likely want to settle with you as soon as possible.
However, if the negligent party or their insurance company will not give you what you deserve based on your losses, you might benefit from filing a property damage lawsuit. In this case, you will have to prove to a judge or jury why you deserve compensation for the accident.
Hiring a Lawyer
A car accident lawyer is not a necessity in property damage cases, but hiring one can be beneficial. Car accident lawyers can gather evidence, evaluate your damages, build your claim, negotiate with insurance companies, take your case to trial, and more.
Lawyers take the burden off your shoulders when dealing with insurance claims and lawsuits. It can be difficult for the average person to take on that stress on top of dealing with their financial losses. A lawyer can handle your case while you carry on with your life.
Their current financial burden might tempt the average person to accept an insurance offer that is too low to cover the costs of their damages. A lawyer will have experience negotiating with insurance companies and will only act in their client’s best interest.
It can also help to have a lawyer on your side if negotiations with the insurance company fall through. Your lawyer can argue your case at trial, which is significantly more stressful and time-consuming than settlement negotiations. Hiring a lawyer to argue your case might help you get the compensation you are entitled to recover.
Is it Worth Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer if I Wasn’t Injured?
It may be worth hiring a car accident attorney if you have damages related to emotional trauma, such as the costs associated with treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or recurrent nightmares. Even if you did not end up with physical injuries, you can still end up suffering from trauma because you didn’t know you weren’t going to be hurt at the time.
How Much Will My Car Accident Claim Be Worth if I Was Not Injured?
Your car accident settlement amount will be based on the total sum of your accident-related expenses, and it is possible that you could also receive compensation for your pain and suffering. Your state’s fault laws may also affect your claim. In comparative negligence states, your settlement will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Contact Us Today
You can sue after a car accident if you were not hurt. For help with your case, contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC. We can help you, no matter how tough your case is.
We work on a contingency basis, which means we do not take any attorney’s fees upfront. We only receive a payment if we secure an award in your case.
Statutes of limitations for property damage vary by state and limit the amount of time you can file from one to six years following the accident. Call us today to arrange your free consultation.