According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, every day in 2019, 201 motor vehicle crashes occurred in Oklahoma. On average, more than 70,000 car accidents occur each year in our state, most often the result of speeding or distracted driving.
While car accidents can cause serious injuries and even deaths, more commonly they cause significant property damage to the vehicles involved. If you are involved in a car accident where only property damage was sustained, you can still file a property damage claim and seek financial compensation.
Below, the team of attorneys at Carr & Carr outline common types of property damage and explain what to do in a property damage only accident.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident in Oklahoma, contact Carr & Carr online or call 844-210-7917 to discuss your legal options. Initial consultations are free and there are no obligations.
What Is a Property Damage Claim?
If you get into a car accident with another motorist and suffer a serious injury, you’d typically file a personal injury claim, or personal injury lawsuit. Similarly, if a loved one is killed in a car accident caused by another driver, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf.
When you file one of these two claims, you’re seeking damages, or monetary compensation, for injuries, missed work, pain and suffering, etc. That’s where a property damage claim is different. A property damage claim seeks compensation for damages to property—not a person. This usually involves a vehicle’s damage, but may also relate to materials inside the damaged vehicle (e.g., laptop, cellphone, etc.) that require financial compensation to replace.
Types of property damage and compensation
One of the most common types of property damage is damage to a vehicle in an accident. Compensation may cover the cost of repairs, the cost to replace the vehicle, loss of use, or even sentimental value.
However, there are other types of property damage that could be used as grounds for compensation, such as:
- The cost of repairs or replacement of items inside of a vehicle, such as your phone, a laptop, or a child’s car seat
- Aftermarket vehicle customizations
- The cost of repairs or replacement for damage to your home, fence, or landscaping that may have been hit in an accident
- Towing your vehicle to a mechanic following an accident
- Renting a vehicle while your car is being repaired or replaced
If you were traveling with your pet in the vehicle at the time of the accident, the veterinary costs associated with treating your pet may even be considered property damage.
What to Do After a Property Damage Only Accident
Following a car accident that only involves property (i.e., no party is injured), the first thing you should always do is to remove the vehicles from the roadway to avoid connected incidents. Call 911 if you’re unable to remove the vehicles. You should also call the police to help document the property damage and the events leading up to the collision.
While waiting for the police to arrive, document as much as you can at the accident scene. Take photos of your vehicle, the location, the other motorist’s vehicle, and any other items or structures that were damaged in the accident. This can help you with your claim later. Collect contact and insurance information from anyone involved in the accident. If there are witnesses available, ask for their contact information as well.
Aside from collecting personal information, don’t say anything to anyone else at the scene. Don’t admit fault or say anything that can be taken as fault, like apologizing or saying that you made a mistake. Get a copy of the police report, which can serve as evidence later.
Filing a Property Damage Only Claim in Oklahoma
Be sure to call your insurance company and the other party’s insurance company to report the accident. If the other driver was at-fault, their insurance company will pay your claim if you’re able to prove they were liable for the accident. Oklahoma is a fault-based state, which means they’re responsible for paying your claim up to the applicable policy limit.
To receive payment, you have to prove that the other person was at-fault. You must show that their actions caused your property damage, that they failed to reasonably prevent the accident, and that you suffered financial losses because of the property damage.
However, if the other driver is not insured, or if the other driver’s insurance company is offering you compensation that’s less than you believe you deserve, you can file a property damage lawsuit.
Importantly, you have two years to file a property damage lawsuit, according to Oklahoma’s statute of limitations.
How an Attorney Can Help You…
Hiring a lawyer for a property damage lawsuit is not required, but a lawyer can help you navigate your case more quickly and efficiently. Your lawyer can gather evidence, figure out compensation for your damaged property, build your case, and negotiate with insurance companies.
If you’re stuck dealing with property damage after a car accident in Oklahoma, contact the attorneys at Carr & Carr today. It’s true—most personal injury lawyers don’t take property damage only cases. But at Carr & Carr, we think anyone who needs help should get it, so we’re happy to take your property damage only case.
Call our office to set up your free initial consultation at 844-210-7917, or fill out an online form.