Have you heard the expression “this is why we can’t have nice things?” Just ask someone who has experienced some form of property damage – they know the feeling.
Fortunately, most people have insurance policies that will cover most if not all the damages incurred from property damage. Whatever compensation you receive will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of your property damage situation.
Examples of Property Damage
A common example of property damage is what happens to your car after you’ve been in an accident. Other examples could include:
- Your neighbor’s child threw an errant baseball through your kitchen window;
- A mover damaged your sofa while loading it in the van; or
- Your brand new refrigerator leaked and ruined your hardwood floor.
When property damage occurs, at best, it’s an inconvenience; at its worst, it can cause major life upheaval.
Document Everything You Can
In the event that you experience property damage, get as much documentation of the damage as possible. This will help you with your claim to the insurance company. If possible, try to do the following:
- Take pictures and video of the damage;
- Don’t remove any damaged property from your home or business until someone from the insurance company has seen it;
- Keep the receipts for everything; you will need to submit them to insurance.
By keeping all bills and leaving the property as is until the insurance company can properly assess it, you are positioning yourself to get as much compensation as you are due.
Determining Compensation for Damaged Property
Let’s say your property is damaged, but it is not beyond repair. Maryland law states that you are entitled to the amount of money it took to get your property back to how it was before the damage. This is usually fairly easy to prove, as it should be documented on the bill and invoices you received in the course of getting it repaired.
Assessing damage from a car accident is a good example of how determining compensation works. Someone made an illegal left turn and smashed into the side of your car, causing a bit of damage to the body of the vehicle. Maryland law will look at the amount you were charged for parts and labor to get your car back to a driveable state. That number is your compensation.
However, this isn’t a free opportunity to fix the bumper from a previous fender bender or replace an old timing belt. You are only entitled to the damage caused by this specific accident.
Compensation Capped at Fair Market Value
What happens when the cost to fix your property is more than what the property is worth? In that case, Maryland law says you can only recover the property’s fair market value before the accident.
For instance, if your car was totaled in an accident, you can recover from the insurance company the amount your car was worth right at the time of the accident. The fair market value of a car is determined by looking at objective resale sources, like the National Automobile Dealer’s Association (NADA) Official Used Car Guide or the Kelley Blue Book.
The insurance company will also take into consideration the age and make of the car as well as the mileage and its condition at the time of the accident. The value the insurance company comes up with is what you will be given.
Duty to Mitigate Property Damage
Maryland law states that people who have suffered property damage have the duty to mitigate the costs to repair their damage. This means that the costs for repairing the damage from the accident have to be reasonable. You can’t pay an exorbitant rate for parts and labor to fix your car and expect to be compensated for it.
Maryland Statute of Limitations for Property Damage Claims
In Maryland, you have three years to file a lawsuit for property damage. The three-year time period begins when the property owner becomes aware of the damage or reasonably should have become aware of the damage.
It’s very important to be aware of the statute of limitations because the price is high if you miss the deadline. Whoever you are suing will surely ask for the case to be dismissed if you file too late.
There are rare instances when an exception can be granted. If the property owner is under 18 or has been declared mentally incompetent, the 3-year deadline doesn’t start until the person turns 18 or is no longer considered mentally incompetent.
Without an exception, you’ll lose your right to pursue compensation for your damages.
A Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help With Your Property Damage Claim
If you have suffered any type of property damage, you have options to pursue compensation. It’s smart to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to plot out the best path forward to repairing or replacing your property.