Category: 

What Is Property Damage?

Lightning can cause property damage.
Article Details
  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Solar energy currently harnessed for electricity represents less than one-tenth of 1% of global energy production.  more...

April 21 ,  1509 :  Henry VIII became the king of England.  more...

In the United States, property damage is generally recognized as injury to real or personal property. Damages in this category can be done to items such as cars, gardens, and homes. Injury can be caused intentionally, due to negligence, or by forces of nature, and still be considered property damage.

The causes of harm are not always clear. In some cases, the actual damages may be the result of a natural force, such as lightning. It may have been a person’s negligence by leaving an item outdoors, however, that created the circumstances for the damages.

There are also cases where property damage is intentional, but the harm is done without malice. If a child is locked inside of a house and a passerby breaks the window to rescue the child, he is not doing so with mean-spirited intentions. When damage to a property occurs, the owners of the property are generally entitled to compensation. Circumstances involving the causes are typically taken into consideration and sometimes owners are not compensated.

When owners are entitled, the awarded amount can depend on many factors. These include the costs of repairs, losses incurred because the item is out of use, and sentimental value. Money is not the only means of compensation. If the damaged property cannot be repaired to a favorable condition, it may have to be replaced. In other cases, a person responsible for such harm may be required to perform some action, such as repairing the item.

Ad

An owner and a person accused of property damage may not agree, in which case it may be necessary to take the dispute to court. These matters are often heard in civil courts, but in some cases they are regarded as crimes. Vandalism is an example of a matter that can be treated as a crime. This type of damage usually deals with surface injuries, such as spray painting someone’s car.

Property damage is not limited to the possessions of individuals. Government and public property can also be harmed. When a person harms government or public property with ill intentions, the case is typically handled as a crime. Terrorism is an example, which often involves significant amounts of property damage and can result in death. These cases are typically matters of federal concern and are dealt with harshly.

Those seeking compensation or claiming innocence in property damage cases may represent themselves in court if the matter is not extremely serious. Other cases, such as terrorism, will require lawyers for both sides. In many states, there are legal professionals who specialize in this area of law.

Ad

Discuss this Article

ceilingcat
Post 8

I think property damage pertaining to vandalism is kind of interesting in the case of graffiti. Some people consider if street art, while others consider it an eyesore. But either way, it's considered a criminal act!

I actually used to live near a block of bars that had an interesting solution to this problem. The bars were in the arts district, and one person owned all of the buildings, including the back walls facing to an alley.

The owner made that alley open to anyone who wanted to do street art. It looked cool, wasn't illegal, and drew people to that area because they wanted to look at the art work.

Monika
Post 7

@indemnifyme - I used to work in an insurance agency myself, and I was always amazed at how many people didn't realize that not every kind of property damage is covered by insurance. Or that there are certain stipulations!

For example some policies cover property damage because of vandalism. However, if the house was unoccupied for a certain number of days, then vandalism would not be covered by property damage liability insurance. I think the theory is that if you leave your house abandoned for a long time, you aren't doing everything you can to protect your property so it isn't covered.

indemnifyme
Post 6

As a few of the other commenters have stated, not all insurance policies that take on property damage liability cover all kinds of property damage. All homeowners insurance policies have what is called "covered perils."

A peril is something that causes the damage, and the covered perils will be stated in your policy. You can also add in extra coverage (for more money of course) to your homeowners insurance policy too.

That's why it's a good idea to read over your policy instead of just assuming everything is covered because you have insurance.

Oceana
Post 5

Property damage to a home garden can be devastating, especially if you are trying to subsist on your own crops. My family used to do this during the summer, and one year, we suffered a major setback.

A surprise frost came in late April and killed nearly all of the seedlings we had worked so hard to raise. There was no way we could have covered them all up, because buying that much plastic sheeting would have cost a fortune.

We didn't have insurance on our garden, because we were barely scraping up enough money to survive on as it was. We had to start over from scratch with the extra seeds we had stored in the barn, and we just had to deal with having a late crop of fruits and vegetables.

Perdido
Post 4

My husband got hired to construct a deck around an above ground pool for a man who lived out of town but owned another house down the street from us, which is where the deck was being built. The guy let my husband use all his tools and told him to take as long as he needed to do the project.

He already had a full-time job, so he spread the construction out over the spring. Well, he isn't the most responsible person when it comes to taking care of tools, and he left all of this guy's tools outside on the ground every day.

He did a beautiful job on the deck, but when the man came down and saw his tools lying rusted and sun-damaged on the ground, he became furious. He threatened to file a property damage lawsuit against my husband, so to make him happy, we told him he didn't have to pay for the work done on the deck and we would buy him all new tools. This worked, but I was furious about how much money we lost because my husband couldn't remember to put the tools away.

StarJo
Post 3

My dad's vehicular property damage insurance paid to fix the body of his truck after some huge hailstones did some serious damage to it. I still remember hearing the fury of that storm, and the stones were so large that they sounded like baseballs hitting our tin roof.

My dad did not have his truck parked in the carport that day, and it suffered quite a beating. More than the paint was damaged. The truck had big dents in it, and it would have been really costly to repair without the insurance.

The insurance company wrote a check to my dad to cover the cost of repair. I believe he even had a little money left over, which he did not have to return to the company.

cloudel
Post 2

@Kat919 – My property damage coverage does not include floods, but that is because I live in an area that is extremely unlikely to be inundated with water. My house is on a small hill, so even my yard does not get really saturated when it rains.

The pond in the field below sometimes floods, but there's no way that the water could get all the way up to my house. I just figured that getting flood insurance for my home would be a waste of money.

Now, if I ever moved to an area near a river, I would definitely make sure that my property damage policy included flood insurance. I've seen too many rivers flood on the news and cover homes up to their roofs to ignore the danger.

Kat919
Post 1

You should be aware that you might not have coverage for certain kinds of property damage claims on your car insurance. For instance, my car once got flooded in the parking lot at work and the only reason that was covered was that I had comprehensive insurance.

In fact, I was working as a temp at a car repair shop at that time and a lot of our customers had water damage to their cars. We were not liable for the damage because it wasn't caused by our negligence - it was an "act of God." (Now, if the lot attendants had run a car into a fence or something, we would have had to pay.) Customers who did not have comprehensive insurance were just out of luck for the damages.

Of course, floods are tricky business for homeowners, too - most homeowners' policies do not cover floods.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email