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When your property gets destroyed or damaged by another person, you may be left wondering what you can do, legally. Under the law, if a person damages your property, whether intentionally or negligently, barring extraordinary circumstances, they will generally be liable for the damages caused.
Although it is a rather common problem that people have to deal with, individuals frequently have questions about their legal rights when it comes to property damage claims. Below are five of the most frequently asked questions about property damages claims.
Unless there is a lot of property damage, totaling more than a few thousand dollars at least, then you will generally be okay to file your claim in small claims court. Each state has different dollar limits for small claims court. If your case qualifies, you should be able to handle the small claims process without needing the help of a lawyer.
Although you may feel violated when another person damages your property, if there was no intent to cause damage, then there likely was no crime. Generally, police will not file a report unless there is a crime alleged, or associated injury, unless we're dealing with a car accident.
Only in extra-extraordinary cases will punitive damages be available in a property damage case. To get punitive damages, typically, a plaintiff will need to show that the damage caused was more than merely intentional and meant to cause personal harm or injury.
If your property is damaged to the point where it is unusable, you may be able to recover for reasonable consequential damages. For example, if your car is damaged, and you need to rent a car until yours can be fixed, the cost of a similarly classed rental car, but not the gas you used, would be compensable.
In auto accident matters where you are not at fault, if you have collision coverage on your insurance, your own insurance can be used to fix your car. You will have to pay your deductible, however, that's all you will need to do. Your own insurance, after paying for your car's repairs, will then pursue the at-fault party to be reimbursed so you don't have to. To make things even better, when your insurance recovers from the at fault party, you will get your deductible back.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.