The Difference Between a Personal Injury and Property Damage Claim after an Accident

A lot of car accidents result in at least one party filing a claim for compensation. The type of claim will depend on the kinds of damages sustained. Some cases may include only vehicle damage; some cases may include physical injuries as well as property damage.

There are a few differences between filing a car accident claim stemming from property damage and one stemming from personal injury. Although many times legal counsel isn’t required after a minor accident, hiring an attorney could become necessary if there is a dispute regarding fault or in cases of serious injury and significant damages.

Overview of a Property Damage Claim

When no one has sustained physical and/or emotional injuries in a collision, but there is damage to the vehicle, the individual who sustained the property damage should file a car accident claim with the insurance company.

New York is a no-fault state. Regardless of who is at fault, drivers can file a claim with their own insurance company to cover their injuries. However, this does not apply to property damage.

If your car was damaged and you weren’t at fault, you could file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance. New York requires drivers carry $10,000 in property damage liability. Property damage liability also could cover other personal property damage in the accident, such as a damaged computer that was in the car at the time of the accident.

If you were at fault and purchased collision coverage, this coverage may pay for property damage after you meet your deductible. Otherwise, you may be left to pay for damages out of pocket.

Overview of a Personal Injury Claim

If the accident causes bodily injury, you can file a PIP car accident claim. PIP provides coverage, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. Coverage may include medical expenses, part of your lost earnings while you are unable to work and even household expenses.

New York requires PIP coverage of at least $50,000. Of course, the amount of coverage is up to the limits of the policy. So there are circumstances in which the costs may exceed the policy’s limits. In that case, if the other driver was the one at fault for the crash, you could file a claim against the other party.

You also may be able to file a claim against the other party if you wish to pursue damages not covered by PIP coverage. For instance, let’s say an accident causes an individual to lose a limb, or the accident results in paralysis. These types of injuries often include damages that exceed the actual medical costs incurred. If an individual suffers serious bodily harm, he or she can pursue pain and suffering, emotional distress, or mental anguish damages.

Determining If You Should Hire an Attorney after an Accident

Significant property damage or disputed fault may necessitate help from an attorney. Most minor property damage cases can be settled without legal counsel. The same is true when it comes to minor injuries — such as a sprained wrist or a pulled muscle. Even then, it’s a good idea to get a thorough medical examination as some injuries may initially appear to be minor but turn out to be much more serious.

Whenever injuries are serious, it’s best to talk with an attorney. At Gacovino, Lake & Associates, we understand the physical, emotional and financial implications of an accident and serious injuries. Don’t hesitate to contact our law office for legal advice and direction when filing a car accident claim for personal injury and/or property damage.

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