When your property is damaged, it can be frustrating to coordinate a repair or replacement. While some forms of property damage like arson or theft may involve the criminal justice system, you may be more interested in learning about how to recover compensation for your damaged property.
What Is Property?
Property is something that a person or entity can own. Two major classifications of property are real property and personal property. Real property refers to land and the structures on land.
Personal property is all other types of property, including:
Everyone owns some property. Insurance helps protect against the loss of property.
Property Damage Insurance
A lot of property damage claims can be resolved through insurance, either through your own coverage or the insurance for the person who is responsible for the damage. Insurance may cover damage to real and personal property.
One of the first questions that must be asked after sustaining property damage is whether there is an insurance policy covering the event that led to the loss. Insurance often provides coverage to cover property losses caused by damage, loss, or theft.
Common Types Of Property Damage Claims
Some of the common reasons for property damage claims include:
Many property damage claims are based on negligence. Negligence occurs when a person’s act of carelessness causes another person to suffer damages. Car accidents are a common event that lead to negligence claims.
To establish negligence, you must show:
- Someone else owed you a duty of reasonable care.
- They breached the duty of care.
- The breach caused damage to your property.
- You can be compensated through the award of financial compensation.
Suppose another driver was drinking while driving when they rear-ended you. This is what you would need to show to recover compensation:
- All drivers have a legal responsibility to follow the law and drive safely to avoid accidents with others.
- The driver breached their duty to drive carefully by breaking the law.
- Their drinking and driving caused the car crash.
- You suffered damages such as medical expenses or lost wages.
Other types of cases besides car accidents may involve negligence, including slips and falls, premises liability cases, and pedestrian accidents.
Some property damage claims are based on property being stolen from the owner. In civil terms, this is known as conversion.
To prove conversion in Texas, you must be able to show:
- You owned, had legal possession of, or were entitled to possession of the property in question.
- The defendant unlawfully and without authorization exercised dominion and control over the property inconsistent with your property rights.
- You demanded the return of the property.
- The defendant refused to return the property.
Under Texas law, a person who steals is liable for damages resulting from the theft. If a child steals, the parent can be held civilly responsible for the damages resulting from the theft. The defendant can be required to pay back the victim’s damages caused by the theft in addition to up to $1,000 or $5,000 if the child committed the theft.
Determining The Value Of Property
A key issue in property damage claims is determining the value of property. This feature will ultimately determine how much money you can recover from your property loss.
In Texas, personal property claims’ value is based on market value, which is the difference between the property’s value immediately before and after the injury. You may be able to use an objective measure for property value, such as Kelley Blue Book, for the cost of replacing a vehicle.
For real property, an appraisal or market evaluation can help determine the value.
If market value cannot be determined, other potential measures to value property include:
- Replacement value
- Actual value
- Sentimental value
An experienced personal injury lawyer sometimes uses professional appraisers to determine the value of damaged or destroyed property.
Texas Property Damage Laws
There are a variety of laws in Texas that may affect property damage claims, including:
- Statutory limits – Texas requires claimants to prove that they have experienced financial losses in order to recover compensation.
- Statutes of limitations – Texas has various timelines related to property damage claims. For example, the timeline to file a lawsuit against the defendant in cases involving conversion or personal injury is two years.
- Comparative negligence – Texas uses a comparative negligence system, meaning that the claimant can still pursue a claim for property loss even if their own negligence contributed to their losses as long as they were less than 51% responsible for the damage. However, their recovery is reduced by their degree of fault.
Property damage claims can be confusing, especially if you are already dealing with unexpected losses. You can contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for help with your claim.
Contact a Property Damage Lawyer for Help With Your Claim
Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file an insurance or civil claim. A knowledgeable lawyer from Jay Murray Personal Injury Lawyers can explain property damage in Texas and the legal remedies to assist you. Contact our legal team today to schedule a free consultation at (214) 855-1420.