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What is Property Damage?

Property Damage Lawyer in Los Angeles

Over 40,000 fatal car accidents happen in the United States each year and many occur in California. Survivors of car accidents who are lucky enough to be free from injury may however suffer property damage.

What is covered under your property damage claim is dependant on your insurance policy and state laws. For professional advice regarding property damage, call the experienced car accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers to get a free consultation about your rights.


Property damage and personal injury are considered separate issues. Property damage refers to the destruction of a personal estate by means of another’s negligence or voluntary behavior.
The amount collected for a property damage claim is relative to the replacement value, repair costs, loss of use, and sentimental value of the damaged object or estate.

What Does Property Damage Car Insurance Cover?
Property damage car insurance is required by law in most states. The purpose of this insurance is to help you cover the incurred costs of damage done by your vehicle. It is meant purely for the other party and does not cover your personal expenses. In California, it is mandatory that car owners have a minimum of $5,000 worth of coverage.
Normally, this coverage is used for:

  1. Any and all restorations to the opposing vehicle, which includes but is not limited to replacement parts and labor costs.
  2. Physical damage done to property, such as broken lamp posts, fences, or windows.
  3. Depending on your policy, your property damage claim might include your legal defense fees. 
  4. Loss of income due to car damage.
  5. Additional fees determined by the court.


If you were involved in a head-on collision, the burden of proof will be on you to prove that either negligence or recklessness on behalf of the other driver was the cause of the collision in order for you to recover any damages (doc) from that driver.

In order to prove that negligence or recklessness was the cause of the head-on collision, it needs to be proven that the other driver breached their duty of care.

Duty of care: Every driver has a responsibility to drive safely and behave in a reasonable manner while behind the wheel. If a driver violates this responsibility, say by choosing to drive drunk or fatigued, he or she can be found responsible for the collision.

Choosing to drive drunk or fatigued will likely be considered a breach of duty, as a driver is more likely to end up driving the wrong way or possibly swerving into oncoming traffic in an inebriated or exhausted state. Driving while intoxicated will almost certainly qualify a defendant for punitive damages. (doc

Determining liability in a head-on collision can be challenging because the initial impact is so violent that both cars may end up flying in different directions. The resulting positions of the vehicles after the collision occurred may be completely different than when the impact originally took place.

Liability can be determined, for example, by analyzing skid marks left on the road after a collision, although this isn’t always the case.

What if both drivers are found liable? In these cases, both drivers may bring personal injury claims against one another. Going to trial, for example, is one way to determine who is more responsible for the head-on collision. Of course it is possible to settle outside of court. But if the case goes to trial, a jury will determine exactly how to distribute liability between you and the other driver.

In cases that go to trial, whether you’re able to recover any damages will depend on which theory your state follows: comparative negligence or contributory negligence.

The state of California follows the doctrine of comparative negligence, which means that you may be able to recover some damages even if you played a role in the head-on collision.

How Does The Court Determine Property Damage Claim Amounts?

Since property damage claims cast a wide net over what is covered, determining the recovery costs can be tricky. Many wisely choose to hire a property damage lawyer to help measure the value of objects that were destroyed. Listed below are a few considerations taken when examining recovery costs.


As times change and the economy fluctuates, the value of the property may change as well. While some items become vintage, others will depreciate in value. Insurance companies are usually inclined to pay the market value of the object damaged rather than the actual cash originally spent. When collecting funds from a damage claim, you may also be entitled to:

  • Cost of Repairs. This could include items like new car parts or even the labor costs, such as auto shop work or repairs.
  • Loss Of Use. If the damaged item affects you financially, then you may also be entitled to lost work wages. For example, if your business is closed down due to an accident, or if your car is an essential part of your business, then you may be able to recover some of those costs.
  • Sentimental Value. This refers to items that may not be as expensive but which hold emotional value. These include items such as wedding photos or family heirlooms. The value of these objects is determined by the court. 

Available Damages

Economic Damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out of pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries. A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out of pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain And Suffering
  • Loss Of Enjoyment Of Life
  • More

Punitive Damages
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5% of all verdicts.


Our personal injury attorneys will not charge you for a consultation. Our clients are represented on a contingency fee basis. If we do not win, you owe us nothing. There is no financial risk to prevent you from reaching out. Our qualified personal injury lawyers are highly-trained and have extensive experience with cases that are similar to yours. We are committed to helping you resolve your legal issues as quickly as possible while receiving the best results.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of emotional distress from an injury, reach out to our legal team 24 hours a day by calling us at (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected].

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