By Jedidiah McKeehan

When someone is involved in a car wreck, there are two distinct and separate parts of their case.  The personal injury side of their case encompasses bodily injuries, missed work, and pain and suffering.  The other side is the property portion of the claim.  This is the portion of the claim related to recovering for damage to your vehicle.

The personal injury part of a case and the property part of a case are separate and distinct.  The personal injury part of a case can take months, if not years, to resolve, while the property damage portion of a case is usually resolved in a matter of days, or maybe a few weeks at the most.

The insurance adjusters for the at fault driver’s insurance company are different for the personal injury side and the property damage side.

What I typically tell people is that they should not have an attorney get involved in the property damage portion of their case, its just not worth it. You will need every dollar they offer you for your damaged or totaled vehicle to make repairs or buy a replacement vehicle, and you want none of that money going into your lawyer’s pocket instead.

Plus, I have found that lawyer’s are typically worthless in helping people get more money for their damaged vehicles.  Why is that? Well, the insurance companies have these computer systems in place for how they calculate what they will offer people for their vehicles based on all of these variables.  In the few property damage portion cases where I have seen the value contested, I have seen people add a few hundred dollars to the offer for their vehicle, in one rare case, I saw $1,000.00 added to the property damage offer, but that was an aberration.

Usually you are stuck simply taking what the insurance company will offer you for your vehicle. And in case you did not know this already, the insurance company NEVER offers to pay you what you believe your vehicle is worth.

Also, if you can prove the value of property inside the vehicle you lost as part of the accident, then you may be compensated for those items. However, usually you need receipts to prove the value of items lost, which no one ever has.

So, when people contact me right after they are in an accident, I tell them they should resolve the property part of their claim themselves, and then I will work with them on the personal injury part of their case.  And I tell them, do not worry, you are not giving up your personal injury claim by accepting money from the insurance company for your vehicle, they are two separate and distinct claims.


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including divorce, custody, criminal, personal injury, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.