What To Do About Property Damage

One of the most important losses to people involved in a crash is damage to their property. One example helps explain this point. A friend came to our office an announced he had just been involved in a crash. His 1972 Cutlass was severely damaged. He wanted to know what he could do about that. When I saw him my first thought was had he been to the emergency room. When he said, “No”, I immediately took him to the emergency room where he had surgery for significant damage to his shoulder and knee. Many similar examples have taught me the importance of property loss.

As a result, I have filed lawsuits to test the law of Florida, as it relates to property damage several times. To date, the law does not fully compensate folks for their losses in many cases. I intend to continue this fight. I have plans to take these issues to the Florida legislature. 

There are two important steps you must take before accepting any settlement regarding property loss.

The first step is to be sure and determine the full amount of the damage caused. Modern body shops have lasers that can easily measure any damage to your frame, for example. You should make sure to do this no matter how small the impact damage may appear.  

The second step is to know all the provisions of your insurance policy that cover the loss. Your insurance company will likely assume you do not know this. You are entitled to a full copy of your insurance policy if you do not have one. You should request that immediately. 

If you have suffered damage that is not determined to be a total loss of your vehicle or property, Florida law provides for several damages. These include loss of use, cost of repair, and for the reduced value caused. 

Many insurance companies try to settle your property damage claim for just the cost of repair. Beware of this tactic as it has saved insurance companies hundreds of millions of dollars. They will also encourage you to take your damage to a repair shop of their choosing. Be sure and review your insurance contract. We spend a lot of time reviewing insurance contracts with clients. 

It is important to know your rights!

Your insurance policy may provide for compensation including paying for a rental vehicle. Insurance companies try to limit the amount they will pay daily for the rental and the time they will pay for the rental. This is covered in your contract or not depending on the coverage purchased.

Premiums for rental coverage is very reasonable. You should consider this at the time of purchase, so you are fully protected.  Being without a vehicle is a huge inconvenience to most people. 

In cases of disputed liability, the insurance companies like to get into an argument between themselves as to who is paying how much. If this occurs, call our office. This is a routine for us in protecting clients. 

If your property is a total loss, the law of the State of Florida provides for valuation at the fair market value in most cases. If you owe $20,000 on a vehicle that has a fair market value of $17,000, the harm causer only owes $17,000. You are stuck having to take the $3,000 out of your pocket and cannot sue the harm causer for it in Florida. 

There are gap insurance policies available from lenders and insurance carriers. They can prevent an unfortunate unneeded loss.

There are also provisions under Florida law that allows you to keep your vehicle if you are paid a price agreed upon. This is important to many people who may think they can repair their vehicle or they need it for parts.     

Please call us before disposing of the vehicle. Some insurance companies will later claim they are at a disadvantage in defending their case due to your disposing of the vehicle. Dan has a prepared plan to make the insurance company regret they did that.   

Insurance companies see paying for property damage claims as easy picking to save them big bucks. There are many scenarios where they are trained to do just that. 

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