Property damage costs are often a significant part of the total spent on an accident, particularly when the accident involves a vehicle. In fact, in some cases the treatment of injuries may amount to only a few hundred dollars while the property damage runs in the thousands.
Part of the reason that property damage costs are so high in a crash is because today’s vehicles are not simple to repair. In the past, a dent or scrape could be pulled or buffed out, but the materials that today’s cars are made from create “crumple zones” that are designed to be nearly destroyed on impact. The result of this is that the force associated with an accident is absorbed, making it safer for the occupants. However, from a pure property damage standpoint, this means that even a relatively minor accident can do thousands of dollars in damage very quickly.
How Are Personal Injury Cases Valued?
It is important to remember that the final settlement or award for a personal injury lawsuit is not a single amount, even though it is usually expressed that way. People will say, “She won $50,000 from her lawsuit,” but that is not really what they mean. Instead, the proper way to express the idea would be: “She won $10,000 for her medical bills, $20,000 in property damage since her car was totaled and another $20,000 for pain and suffering.”
In other words, an award in a personal injury case is often made up of several parts of which property damage is one. This means that the amount of property damage done to your vehicle or other property is a significant factor in determining the amount for which you should settle your case.
The Subtlety Factor in Property Damage
There is another factor in the amount of property damage involved that may have an impact on how much you can recover for your case. Juries tend to see serious damage to a vehicle as a sign that your injuries are more severe, while the jury may see very light damage to your car as an indication that you are not seriously injured.
Of course, this is not always a fair assessment of the situation. In fact, there have been cases in which a car was completely totaled or destroyed while the occupants walked away with minor injuries. There have also been cases in which the occupants died in what seemed to be a relatively minor crash.
In theory, the amount of property damage should not determine the amount you can recover for your personal injuries. However, in reality, if your car is not seriously damaged, you should have as much support from medical records as possible to document your injuries and counteract the assumption that “serious” car accidents always involve “serious” property damage.
How Can A Personal Injury Lawyer Help?
One of the reasons to talk to a personal injury attorney about your case is to help you determine the right amount of money for which you should settle in closing your case. A personal injury attorney may be able to guide you through the process of valuing your case and help you obtain the money you need to pay your medical bills, property damage costs and other expenses.
A personal injury attorney will advocate for you if your insurance company or that of another party tries to undervalue your case or force you to take less for your vehicle than it is worth. Talk to a personal injury attorney immediately if you have suffered property damage and injuries as the result of an accident.