What you need to know:
- In Oklahoma, you can sue to recover damage to your property
- If you win in court, the losing side must pay your attorney fees
- You can sue for physical damage, as well as depreciation in value
- If you only sue for depreciation, you still get attorney fees
Oklahoma Law regarding Property Damage from Negligence
If a person willfully or negligently damages your property, you are entitled to sue for the full amount of the damages to that property. Further, the defendant must pay all of your attorney fees and expenses incurred in filing the lawsuit to collect that damage.
Personal and Real Property
This rule applies to any type of damaged property, including damage to vehicles, buildings, land and trees, and any type of personal property. If the damage was caused by another person’s willful intent or negligence, you are entitled to have that person pay for the full extent of the damage, as well as your attorney fees and lawsuit expenses.
Physical Damage versus Diminution in Value
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has held that the property measure of damage to property includes not only cost of repairs, but also post-repair dimunition in value. Brennen v. Ashton, 2003 OK 91, 84 P.3d 99.
This is important because many types of property are worth less, even after repairs. Auto Dealers as well as consumers routinely value vehicles as being worth less if the vehicle was previously damaged and then subsequently repaired. It generally accepted in the automobile market that a vehicle’s value is less than it would have been before the loss/damage event.
A common scenario that arises in law practice is when a vehicle is damaged in a wreck, and the defendant’s insurance carrier pays for the repairs, but refuses to pay for any depreciation in value resulting from the damage.
Recently, an Oklahoma appeals court held that a party suing only for post-repair depreciation may still recover attorney fees if successful at trial. Hall v. Dearmon, 2015 OK CIV APP 40, 340 P.3d 1107.
To prove a claim for dimunition in value (or depreciation), you must be able to present evidence as to how much the vehicle or property has depreciated. This will require an expert witness, whether an insurance professional, automobile expert, or someone in the retail auto industry. You will need an expert to prove the property has depreciated as a result of the accident, even after repairs.
Oklahoma City Property Damage Lawyer
Travis Charles Smith represents individuals in property damage cases in Oklahoma County, and sometimes in surrounding counties. His fee is contingent on a successful outcome and only charges the client if he wins at trial.
Do you even need a lawyer to settle a property damage claim? I’ve answered that question here.
If you have a property damage claim and need a lawyer, please call (405) 701-6016 or send us an email and provide your contact information and tell us about your case.