If you were to be involved in a car accident right now, what would be in your car that might be damaged or destroyed? Many people regularly drive with pricey items like laptops, an upgraded stereo, or musical instruments in their car. When someone else hits your car through no fault of your own and you lose something valuable, you deserve to be reimbursed for it.

On average, drivers in the U.S. will be in three or four automobile accidents in their lifetime. Many of these accidents result in some form of property damage. If your property was damaged in a car accident, you may want to file a property damage claim. If you want compensation from the driver at fault, you’ll most likely have to go to small claims court since property damage is classified as a civil suit.

You can also sue for recoverable damages related to your accident. Among examples of recoverable damages for car accidents include: ambulance transportation from the scene, emergency treatment, and recovery of your lost wages. Here is some additional information you need to know to file a successful claim.

What Does a Property Damage Claim Include?

When you’ve been in a wreck, you can see compensation from the driver at fault. Your reimbursement can include loss of your personal belongings and damage to your automobile.

Property damage claims related to car accidents include:

  • The price of repairing your car
  • Market value for your car if your vehicle is totaled
  • The cost of a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired
  • The cost of car upgrades that were lost in the accident, i.e. your rims or stereo system

You can also file a property damage claim for broken or lost personal property like:

  • Cell phones
  • Jewelry (including smartwatches)
  • Laptops and tablets
  • Prescription glasses or sunglasses

Remember, you can file a property damage claim for any items that were lost in the accident, but you must provide proof. For instance, if you were on your way home from Christmas shopping and had gifts in your trunk or the back seat of the car, save your receipts so you can prove you need to be reimbursed for the items you purchased if they were destroyed in a car wreck.

Booster seats and car seats can also be included in your property damage claim. It’s best to replace your child’s car seat after a serious car accident. Make sure you include the cost of replacing the seat in your insurance company claim.

Do You Need an Attorney?

You likely won’t need a lawyer to file your insurance claim. In most cases, you’ll have to make a few calls to your insurance company and the repair shop fixing your car to solve your insurance claim.

However, if you need additional assistance to move your case along or want a professional to look over your policy, you should meet with a car accident attorney. For instance, if your insurance company won’t pay you the money you’re owed or denies your claim without a good reason, this means the company is acting in “bad faith,” and you could file a lawsuit.

You’ll need an attorney to bring a bad faith insurance case to court since the situation has escalated from getting the money to repair your car to suing a bigger entity that is supposed to assist you.

If you decide you want to pursue the party at fault for your car accident damages, you can bring the case to civil court if you don’t live in a no-fault state. If you reside in a state that is considered “no-fault” you’ll have to file your claims through your car insurance company.

If you do decide to go to small claims court, you likely won’t need a lawyer, but it’s good to have an attorney on call just in case. You can also request counsel in civil court to ensure your rights are protected. Keep in mind that you will have to pay the law firm since your settlement amount would be considered small.