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What Is Considered Property Damage in a Car Accident?

October 29, 2020

Colorado’s insurance laws require drivers to purchase three types of liability coverage: individual bodily injury liability, total bodily injury liability, and property damage. While we can decipher what bodily injury may mean, the definition of property damage is not always clear. Simply put, any object that suffers damage during a car accident qualifies as property damage, including GPS systems, smartphones, and the vehicle itself.

Property Damage and Colorado Car Accident Claims

You can collect compensation for multiple types of damages after a car accident, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. The driver who is responsible for your accident is responsible for paying for the losses you suffered, which may include replacing these damaged objects.

Many objects can sustain damage during a car accident, including the following.

  • Vehicles
  • Lawns
  • Bicycles
  • Street signs and traffic lights
  • Motorcycles
  • Mailboxes
  • Personal electronics
  • Items inside of the vehicle

Vehicle repairs often comprise the majority of property damage costs. You can collect compensation for the cost of repairing your vehicle, as well as the price of a rental vehicle while you wait for repairs. If the accident totals your car, you can receive funds equal to the pre-crash value of your car.

How to Prove Property Damage in a Car Accident Claim

You have two pathways to collect compensation for collision-related property damage: filing an insurance claim and filing a lawsuit. During each process, you will need to prove that the at-fault driver is liable for the property damage you sustained during the accident. Since Colorado is a fault-based state, you will need to establish that the crash was the defendant’s fault — specifically, that his or her negligent actions directly caused the accident and your subsequent property damage.

You and your attorney can prove the defendant’s liability in a number of ways. You can use letters from the repair shop, invoices, and receipts to establish the cost and nature of the damage you sustained. Appraisals and a vehicle valuation report can establish the actual value of the damaged property, creating an estimated settlement you and your attorney can evaluate offers against. Your lawyer can also depose eyewitness testimony on your behalf, as well as contact expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction specialists, who can provide insight into your losses.

How Long Do You Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Colorado?

If you choose to pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in your accident, you will need to make sure you file your claim before the statute of limitations passes. You have three years from the date of the accident to file your claim in Colorado civil court.

A statute of limitations is a rule that sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit. If you do not file your claim in time, the court will likely dismiss it and you will not receive any funds for the damage you suffered, even if the other driver is clearly responsible. To ensure you meet the three-year deadline, speak to a car accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident.

Most injured drivers begin in the insurance stage before progressing to a lawsuit. By contacting a lawyer early on, you can begin the legal process with enough time to file an insurance claim before the statute of limitations passes. In addition, your lawyer can provide several benefits to your case, including access to expert witnesses, investigation experience, and negotiation skills. If you have not done so already, speak to an experienced car accident lawyer before filing your property damage claim.

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