Although most drivers are now more aware of the dangers of careless driving, it remains one of the main culprits behind car accidents and property damage every year. Because careless driving can leave the aggrieved party with thousands of dollars to pay for repairs, suing the person responsible for the damage is usually the best course of action. After all, why should you pay out of your pocket when you are not the one at fault?
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However, compensation claims may be too complex to navigate if you do not know how to file for one or who to seek for help. If a careless driver has damaged your property and you want to claim fair compensation for your troubles, just follow our guide.
Report the Incident
Most property damage caused by careless driving befalls automobiles, but in some rare cases, you may want to file a claim to cover the damages done to other personal items like electronics or even mailboxes. Regardless of the type of property you want to reimburse, you should always call the police.
According to the CDC, there are around 120 million instances of careless driving, and particularly DUI (driving under the influence), in the U.S. annually, so the police are well aware of the magnitude of the problem and are equipped to help you get the evidence you need. By filing a police report, you can get irrefutable proof of what happened in addition to valuable information like the scale of the damage, the car plates of the driver, and photos of the scene. All this can aid you in building a solid claim against the perpetrator.
Hire a Lawyer
Even if you are an astute and law-savvy individual, seeking professional help is essential. As we mentioned before, compensation claims are usually a headache, and dealing with insurance companies is even worse. The expert Phoenix attorneys at https://www.belenlawfirm.com/criminal-defense/dui-offense-attorney-phoenix/ explain that most careless drivers hire a lawyer to defend them, as drunk driving, in particular, is a serious misdemeanor that can lead to six months of imprisonment. Laws can differ per state, but generally, DUIs are taken very seriously, for example, a dui Seattle can result in a loss or suspension of driver's license on top of jail time. So, it only makes sense to hire an attorney as well.
Moreover, the majority of the claims related to property damage are usually settled out of court through negotiations. Thus, having a skilled lawyer to manage your case is a smart move.
Decide How to File the Claim
When the topic of property damage is brought up, most people think that the party at fault is the sole entity responsible for paying the compensation. Nonetheless, this is not always the case. Before you proceed with your claim, you must know that you have several options to choose from. First, you can contact your own insurance company, if you have coverage, and ask them to repair or replace your property. However, this option is usually not the best because you will have to pay a deductible that varies according to your insurance plan.
The second option is to let your attorney contact the perpetrator’s insurer. In this case, the party at fault has to have liability coverage to pay for your property damage. Finally, in the rare case that the perpetrator does not have insurance, you can directly sue them although this will entail a lengthy process.
Get an Estimate
Whether you choose to directly contact your own insurer or let the driver’s insurance company reimburse you, the damaged property has to be evaluated so that the insurer can get an estimate of the sum they will pay. In some severe cases, the property might be beyond repair. However, don’t panic because the insurer will give you compensation equivalent to the property’s fair market price. Thus, you can just replace the item.
Anyhow, this step is extremely important, so don’t be afraid to submit the damaged property, be it your car or another item, for assessment. After the evaluation, the insurer will either send you a check or directly cover the repairs by paying the third party responsible for fixing your property.
Go to Court
Rarely, your case can escalate and go to trial if the insurance company refuses to reimburse you or gives you an unfair offer. Usually, your attorney will try to negotiate to reach a better deal. Yet, if this does not work, your only option is to go to court. In this case, your lawyer will present evidence of the damage in hopes of getting you the compensation you deserve. Having a copy of the initial police report is essential here because it offers irrefutable proof of what really took place.
Indubitably, claiming compensation for property damage is a lengthy process, especially if it was caused by a careless driver. In such situations, it helps to keep a level head and plan your moves carefully for the best results. Also, hiring expert legal help is always recommended. Finally, you shouldn’t consider your case a lost cause, as most compensation claims are successful. So, just be patient.