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Friday, February 8, 2008

Property Damage in Car Accident Collisions

Contact the Law Office of KENNETH A VERCAMMEN for Legal Representation
Kenneth Vercammen & Associates Law Office helps people who suffer personal injures due to the negligence of others. We provide representation throughout New Jersey. The insurance companies will not help. Our Law Office can provide experienced attorney representation if you are injured in an accident and suffer a back, neck or other injury. If the damages are property damage to a car only and under $15,000, you can file your own suit in the Special Civil Part Court. The following law deals with damages to cars and other property:

The Judge will read the following to the jury if there is a jury trial:

If you ultimately find the plaintiff's (personalty involved) was damaged as a result of the defendant's negligence, plaintiff would be entitled to your verdict. Plaintiff would be entitled to money damages from the defendant for the loss suffered. The measure of damages for such loss is the difference between the market value of the (personalty involved) before and the market value after the damage occurred. If the (personalty involved) has no market value in its damaged condition, the measure of damages is the difference between the market value of the (personalty involved) before the damage occurred and its salvage value in its damaged condition. If the (personalty involved) is not substantially damaged and it can be repaired at a cost less than the difference between its market value before and its market value after the damage occurred the plaintiff's damages would be limited to the cost of the repairs. Cases: Jones v. Lahn, 1 N.J. 358, 362 (1949); Douches v. Royal, 1 N.J. Super. 45, 47 (App. Div. 1948); Associated Metals & Minerals Corp. v. Dixon Chemical &

Research, Inc., 69 N.J. Super. 305, 314 (Ch. Div. 1961); Hintz v. Roberts, 98 N.J.L. 768, 770 (E. & A. 1923).

Limitation: (1) The cost of repairs is evidential on the issue of the difference in value of goods before and after injury, but the cost of such repairs must neither exceed the loss in market value due to the damage nor the automobile's market value immediately before the damage. Jones v. Lahn, 1 N.J. 358, 362 (1949) damage to tractor-trailer; Bransley v. Goodman, 40 N.J. Super. 472, 476 (App. Div. 1956) damage to furniture; Nixon v. Lawhon, 32 N.J. Super. 351, 354 (App. Div. 1954) damage to automobile - cost of car, furnishings and repairs are elements of value; Douches v. Royal, 1 N.J. Super. 45, 47 (App. Div. 1948) damage to automobile.

(2) Where the automobile was damaged and then sold by plaintiff without any repairs having been made thereon, the measure of damages is the difference between the value of the automobile before it was damaged and the price which was received for it from the purchase (assuming the sale price is not less than the automobile's worth or value in its damaged condition). Van Sciver v. Public Service Railway Co., 96 N.J.L. 13 (Sup. Ct. 1921).

B. Evidence As To Value In determining the amount of money, if any, to be awarded to plaintiff (owner) for the damage to his/her (personalty involved), the jury may consider, but are not bound by, the testimony of the plaintiff (the owner) as to his/her opinion of the value of the property before and after it was damaged. Cases:

Rodgers v. Reid Oldsmobile, Inc., 58 N.J. Super. 375, 385 (App. Div. 1959); Nixon v. Lawhon, 32 N.J. Super. 351, 356 (App. Div. 1954).


The owner of personal property may be permitted to testify as to its value before and after damage where such person property is "of a common class or in general daily use," in the court's discretion, but not where the owner has not the slightest knowledge of such value. Rodgers v. Reid Oldsmobile, Inc., and Nixon v. Lawhon, supra.


These rules for measuring damages are subordinate to the ultimate aim of making good the injury done or loss suffered. "The answer rests in good-sense rather than in a mechanical application of a single formula." N.J. Power and Light Co. v. Mabee, 41 N.J. 439, 441 (1964).

See "Damages," McCormick (West Pub. Co. 1969) p. 470 et seq., for full discussion of general subject of damages for personal property losses. C. Incidental Damages As A Result of Motor Vehicle Damages A plaintiff who is entitled to a verdict for property damage to a motor vehicle is also entitled to recover for necessary and reasonable out-of-pocket expenses for towing and storage of the vehicle and rental cost of a substitute vehicle whether the property damage to plaintiff's car is partial or total. As to any of the out-of-pocket expenses, the determination as to necessity for same and the reasonableness of both the cost thereof and the period of time required is for you, the jury, to determine in the light of all the circumstances in which plaintiff found himself/herself following the accident. Cases:

Hintz v. Roberts, 98 N.J.L. 768, 771 (E. & A. 1923); Bartlett v. Garrett, 130 N.J. Super. 193 (Co. Dist. Ct. 1974).

The following form helps clients itemize their property damage in accidents

1. Property Damage Itemize: (a) Automobile repair damage __________________ (b) Towing expense __________________________ (c) Car rental expense ________________________ (d) Car storage expense _______________________ (e) Total car damages _________________________ (f) Other property damage _____________________ (g) Clothing, glasses, wristwatch or other jewelry items __________________________________ ________________________________________ (h) Miscellaneous items and costs ________________

2. Wage Loss Itemize: (a) Time lost from work ______________________ (b) Wages lost per week ______________________ (c) Total wages lost _________________________

3. Transportation Expense Itemize: (a) Cabs ____________________________________ (b) Buses/Trains _____________________________ (c) Rentals __________________________________ (d) Mileage ___________________________________ (e) Total transportation expenses _________________

4. Medical Expenses Itemize: (a) Physician expenses, date incurred, and amount ___ ________________________________________ (b) Laboratory expenses, date incurred, and amount ________________________________________ (c) X-rays, date incurred, and amount _____________ (d) Accident room expenses, date incurred, and amount _______________________________________ (e) Ambulance expenses, date incurred, and amount ___ _________________________________________ (f) Medication expenses, date incurred, and amount ____ _________________________________________ (g) Therapy expenses, date incurred, and amount _______ _________________________________________ (h) Nurse or home healthcare expenses, date incurred, and amount _________________________________ (i) Miscellaneous medical expenses, date incurred, and amount ___________________________________ _________________________________________ _________________________________________ (j) Total medical expenses ______________________ _________________________________________

5. Housekeeping/Home Aid Expenses Itemize: (a) Number of weeks used _______________________ (b) Wages paid per week ________________________ (c) Miscellaneous items of expense associated with home care _________________________________ _________________________________________ (d) Total housekeeping/home care expenses __________ __________________________________________

6. Miscellaneous expenses ____________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________