What Is Property Damage?

If you get into an accident in Chicago, you might face different kinds of losses. However, you can seek damages to help you cover these losses, including property damage. 

Property damage occurs when harm is done to things you own, including your car or other belongings. Knowing more about property damage is vital to understanding a personal injury claim.  

What Is Property? 

Property is generally divided into two main categories: real property and personal property.

Real Property includes:

  • The land itself
  • Residential buildings like houses and apartments
  • Commercial structures such as office buildings or retail stores
  • Permanent fixtures, including garages and barns
  • Landscaping elements, for example, trees, perennial gardens, and ponds

Personal Property (or chattels) consists of:

  • Vehicles, encompassing cars, motorcycles, and boats
  • Electronics, including computers, smartphones, and cameras
  • Personal belongings, such as jewelry, books, and clothing
  • Household items, which include furniture, appliances, and artwork
  • Collectibles, like stamps, coins, and antiques

Both real and personal property can be damaged or destroyed. In such cases, owners may be entitled to seek legal compensation for their losses.

Types of Property Damages in Chicago Car Accident Claims

When you’re involved in a car accident in Chicago, your claim can cover several types of property damage, including: 

  • Costs for towing your car
  • Fees for storing your vehicle if it can’t be driven
  • Repair costs for your vehicle
  • Damage to things inside your car, like a laptop or clothes
  • If your car is totaled, the cost to replace it

In Illinois, the law requires drivers to be responsible (‘at-fault’) for accidents they cause. This means drivers need car insurance that covers property damage. The minimum amount of insurance for property damage a driver is required to have is $20,000.

Usually, you would ask the insurance company of the person who caused the accident to pay for your property damage. But sometimes, you might need to file a claim with your own insurance company instead. 

First-Party vs. Third-Party Property Damage Claims in Chicago Car Accidents

When your car is damaged in a car accident in Chicago, you might deal with two types of insurance claims: first-party and third-party. Understanding the difference between these can help you know how to proceed.

First-party property damage claims are filed with your own insurance company and may include: 

  • Rental Reimbursement Coverage: This helps pay for a rental car if you have this option in your policy.
  • Towing: If your policy includes it, this covers towing costs after an accident.
  • Collision Coverage: This pays for your car’s repairs after an accident. If you have a car loan, your lender might need you to have it.
  • Gap Insurance: If your car is totaled and you owe more than its current value, it covers the difference.

Your insurance may also cover damage to personal items in the car, like laptops or phones. If the accident wasn’t your fault, your insurer might seek payment from the at-fault driver’s insurance.

Third-party claims are filed with the insurance of the person who caused the accident. This often saves you from paying a deductible. 

Here’s what to know about third-party property damage claims: 

  • You can choose who repairs your car.
  • Getting an independent damage appraisal can ensure you get a fair claim value.
  • The insurance should pay for new, vehicle-specific parts for repairs.
  • If your car is totaled, you should receive its fair market value, considering factors like make, model, year, condition, and features.
  • If your car is rare or specialty, get multiple appraisals to prevent the insurance company from undervaluing it.

A car accident attorney in Chicago can help you understand these claims better and assist you if you need to sue for damages.

Negligence in Property Damage Claims Explained

Negligence in property damage claims occurs when someone’s lack of care leads to harm to your property. 

To prove negligence, you must establish these points:

  • The individual had a duty to act carefully.
  • They failed to fulfill this duty.
  • Their failure resulted in the damage.
  • The damage has a quantifiable monetary value.

Consider this scenario: You give your neighbor permission to trim a tree on their property near your shared fence. However, they carelessly cut a large branch, which falls and breaks your fence. In this case, your neighbor had a responsibility to trim the tree safely. Their failure to do so, demonstrated by the falling branch, directly caused damage to your fence. 

How Comparative Fault Affects Property Damage Claims in Illinois

In Illinois, there’s a rule called ‘modified comparative fault‘ that can affect property damage claims. This rule affects how much money you can get if you are partly to blame for the accident.

If you are found to be 51% or more at fault for the accident, you can’t get any money for your damages. This means you have to pay for the damages to your own car. But, if you are less than 51% at fault, you can still get some money. 

The amount you get is reduced by how much the accident was your fault. For example, if you were 10% at fault, you could get 90% of the money for the damage to your car. 

A Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help With a Property Damage Claim 

If you’re in Chicago and dealing with property damage issues, Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys can help. Contact us for straightforward advice and support tailored to your property damage case. Reach out to  Zayed Law Offices Personal Injury Attorneys at (312) 726-1616 to schedule a free consultation.