Did you know that in 2017, 6% of all insured homes filed an insurance claim? Of those claims, over 98% were for property damage.
In 2016, the most recent year with an available report, over 5 million car crashes led to property damage. That represents an increase of over 500,000 cases from the year before.
If you’ve recently been in an incident that damaged your property, you need to act now. It’s best to hire a property damage attorney ASAP, or you risk not getting compensated for your losses.
Ready to learn all about property damage claims and how to choose an attorney to help you? Then let’s get right into it!
What Counts as Property Damage?
In the legal world, property damage is any type of damage to personal or real property. Intentional acts, natural disasters, and negligence are the top causes of these damages.
Among the most common types of damaged properties are automobiles. After all, an estimated six million vehicle crashes occur in the U.S. each year.
Property damage can also occur during property crimes. These are also common, with almost 7.2 million property crimes occurring in the U.S. in 2018 alone. Broken windows and doors are some examples of property damage related to crimes.
Why Hire a Property Damage Attorney?
Unless it’s a severe natural disaster, you may have a hard time proving what or who caused the damage. Worse, your homeowner’s insurance policy may not cover all your losses.
Negligence is one of the most difficult-to-prove aspects of a property damage claim. There are, after all, four elements to a negligence-related damage claim.
These include “duty”, “breach”, “causation”, and “damages”.
These terms alone are confusing enough for the average property owner.
However, all four of these elements need to be present for a property damage claim to even be valid. When one of them is missing, insurers or the courts will likely invalidate the claim.
This should be enough reason to have a legal expert by your side when making a claim.
Another situation wherein you should get legal help is to prove that you’re not in any way liable for the damage. A good example is mold or water damage in your home.
In this case, the insurer may claim that it’s your fault because you didn’t properly maintain your home.
They may cite other reasons, such as third-party involvement.
You may want to check out this property damage attorney page for more info on these damages.
A car can also cause property damage by crashing to your mailbox or fence.
A large branch from your neighbor’s tree may also fall on and cause damage to your property.
Either way, one of the top benefits of hiring property damage attorneys is that they will help prove all these elements.
They’ll collect as much proof as they can to ensure that a damage claim is valid.
They’ll also do much of the leg work, from collecting witness accounts to talking with your insurer.
Starting Your Search for an Attorney
The United States is home to over 1.3 million licensed, active attorneys.
With that many attorneys, it’s likely that you know one or have worked with one before, for a different case.
Even if they don’t practice property damage, they can likely recommend an attorney who does.
If you don’t know an attorney, ask people you trust who may have worked with one.
Start with your family, friends, and co-workers.
You should also get in touch with your local bar association.
They can tell you more about active property damage attorneys in your area.
You can also ask them if the attorney you know or the one recommended to you holds a valid license.
Narrowing Your List of Prospects
Once you have at least three attorneys on your list, find out who they represent the most.
Most attorneys either represent plaintiffs or defendants.
Some also work with both types of clients as well as insurance companies.
What you want, however, is an attorney who represents mostly plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs are those who file a claim against another party. In this case, you’re a plaintiff, since you’re the victim of the property damage.
Sticking to an Attorney Who Has Experience Handling Similar Cases
Since property damage comes in many types, you want to hire an attorney who has handled cases like yours.
Let’s say your claim is against someone who sent a golf ball crashing into your window.
In this case, an attorney who has only handled vehicle-related cases may not be your best choice.
As you narrow down your list, make sure that you ask if they have handled similar cases.
Also, ask them if taking your case to court would be a good idea.
They should, especially if the at-fault’s insurer is offering a low settlement amount.
Making Your Claim ASAP
It’s important that you don’t delay filing a claim as you may go beyond your state’s statute of limitations.
These are the “deadlines” for bringing certain types of legal action.
State laws vary, with some, like Minnesota, having a deadline that extends to six years.
In Rhode Island, some property damage cases have a deadline of up to 10 years.
In many other states, however, a two or three-year statute of limitations is more common.
Regardless of where you live, it’s best to start the claims process as soon as you can.
The sooner you do, the more evidence you and your attorney are likely to collect.
Keep in mind that evidence can degrade over time, and when they do, they usually end up inadmissible in court.
Don’t Let Other People’s Actions Rob You of Your Property
There you have it, your ultimate guide to property damages.
Now that you know, it’s best that you start looking for a property damage attorney as soon as possible.
This way, you can boost your odds of getting fair compensation for your damaged property.
Looking for more ways to protect your home and property as well as your family’s health and well-being?
Then be sure to bookmark this site so you can check back for more guides like this!