After an accident, the property damage to an injured victim’s vehicle creates a separate claim from their personal injury case. In most instances, the property damage claim is resolved long before the personal injury claim.
What happens to my damaged car in a personal injury claim?
Whether our client’s vehicle is repaired or considered a total loss (where the cost of repairs exceeds the retail value of the vehicle), the property damage claim is often paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company promptly following the collision. While we provide advice to our clients to help facilitate this transaction, rarely is a lawsuit required to resolve a property damage claim. However, sometimes some hard bargaining is required to get the insurance company to pay what they should pay. Generally, our firm takes no fee for assisting with property damage settlements.
Why are property damage photos important, if my auto claim has already been covered?
Why, then, during the trial of one’s personal injury claim, is evidence permitted of the property damage caused by the collision, when that loss has already been paid? The answer is that the extent of the property damage provides some helpful information about the forces of impact which caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Our Virginia Supreme Court has expressly authorized the introduction of property damage photographs into evidence at trials for personal injury cases for this purpose.
Consequently, where only minor damage occurs to the vehicles in a collision, defense lawyers for the at-fault driver’s insurance company often show photographs of the vehicles at trial and argue to the jury that the plaintiff could not be hurt seriously, if at all, by such a minor impact.
Conversely, where property damage is significant, plaintiffs’ lawyers present photographs showing the damaged vehicle to a jury to provide supporting evidence to prove that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the crash. Hence, the old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” holds true.
Should I take photos of the damage after the car accident?
Therefore, as a general rule, it is important to take photographs of the damage while it’s available, to preserve that evidence in the event of a civil trial. At our law firm, we believe it’s so important, that we often dispatch investigators immediately after we have been retained. Our Investigations team photographs the vehicles involved in the collision in order to have that evidence in the event of a civil trial, and for personal injuries that could happen months later. The photographs are also helpful to convince the insurance company in settlement negotiations that the injuries were, in fact, caused by the collision, and that – if we are not able to reach a settlement – that a jury will likely make the conclusion.
If you have been injured in an accident through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Allen & Allen today for a free consultation, at 866-388-1307.