If Building Rubble Falls On Your Car, Who Pays For Damages?

On the morning of April 5, 2024, a 4.8 magnitude earthquake shook the eastern seaboard. With its epicenter in central New Jersey, the quake was felt by an estimated 42 million people. In the weeks following, more than 130 aftershocks rocked nervous East Coast residents.

Earthquakes can be frightening and stressful. Before such a disaster strikes, it is wise to consider how to protect your assets. If rubble from damaged buildings falls on your car, having the right policies in place beforehand will make filing a claim and getting compensation easier.

Below we will discuss what kind of insurance policies generally cover property loss due to earthquakes in New Jersey. We will then consider various safety precautions you can take and how a personal injury lawyer can help you in the event of earthquake damage.

Homeowner’s Insurance and Vehicle Damage

If building debris falls on your car in an earthquake, you may wonder whether the building owner’s insurance policy will cover your damages. Unfortunately, standard homeowner’s or renter’s insurance does not cover earthquake damage.

Homeowners may have the option to get an additional insurance policy to cover losses stemming from an earthquake. Still, cars and other vehicles are only protected by certain comprehensive automobile insurance policies.

Auto Insurance and Earthquake Damage

New Jersey requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance coverage. Such coverage will pay for the other driver’s vehicle damage in the event of an accident. However, a minimum insurance policy will not cover damages from an earthquake.

If you want damage to your vehicle from an earthquake covered by car insurance, you need to add comprehensive coverage to your policy. Comprehensive coverage pays for damages to your car beyond collision-based accidents. This coverage kicks in if an earthquake causes building rubble to fall on your car.

Comprehensive insurance covers damage from such things as:

  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Earthquakes
  • Falling debris
  • Falling trees
  • Hail
  • Lightning
  • Wind
  • Fire
  • Floods
  • Riots
  • Hurricanes

At times, earthquakes trigger additional disasters, such as flooding and fires. With comprehensive insurance coverage, all your bases should be covered in the event of weather-related damage to your vehicle.

It is advantageous to add comprehensive coverage to your car insurance policy before the ground starts shaking. Many insurers don’t allow you to add coverage right before or after a natural disaster.

How to Protect Your Car From Earthquake Damage

The best time to prepare for an earthquake is before it happens. Work out in advance what steps you will take if a natural disaster strikes in your area. Taking certain protective measures may reduce the chance of your car being damaged in an earthquake.

If you are driving when an earthquake happens, pull over if safe to do so and set the parking brake. If possible, keep your vehicle out in the open – away from bridges, overpasses, power lines, signs, trees, light posts, and buildings – anything that has the potential to topple onto your car.

In the event of an earthquake, it is best to have your car parked in a secure place. A structurally sound garage is less likely to collapse during an earthquake and can shield your car from falling trees and rubble. If you do not have access to a garage, you can park under a solid structure that may keep falling debris from hitting your vehicle.

Unfortunately, preventative measures will only go so far in the event of an earthquake. Sometimes we are simply in “the wrong place at the wrong time,” and vehicle damage inevitably ensues. When this happens, a personal injury lawyer can help you add up your losses and investigate all possible avenues of compensation.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Recover Damages After an Earthquake

Sadly, after an earthquake, some policyholders receive insurance claim denials instead of the coverage they need. In other cases, claim payments are unnecessarily delayed or underpaid by the insurance companies.

A knowledgeable attorney can review your car insurance policy to determine whether you are insured for losses related to an earthquake. If your vehicle is inadequately insured, not all is necessarily lost. It may be that the insurance agent failed to give you adequate coverage. A lawyer can determine whether an insurance broker or agent was negligent in setting up your policy.

What if the insurance company has offered you only a fraction of the value of the damages to your vehicle? If this is the case, an attorney can help you get an accurate appraisal of the true cost of your property damage.

Insurance adjusters are notoriously difficult to deal with, but your lawyer can negotiate with them on your behalf and advocate for you in the event of an insurance dispute. Additionally, a well-practiced attorney knows all applicable policies and laws impacting earthquake-related car insurance claims. He or she will leave no stone unturned in putting these laws to work on your behalf.

Reach Out to Judd Shaw Injury Law for Assistance

In the aftermath of an earthquake, you may feel emotionally rattled and financially stressed.

If your car was damaged or even totaled in the event, you need help getting the compensation you need. After all, understanding what is needed to file and resolve an insurance claim successfully is overwhelmingly difficult without firsthand experience.

The personal injury lawyers of Judd Shaw Injury Law are here to answer your questions and support you throughout the entire claims process when we take on your case. We work for our clients – not the insurance companies. Our lawyers have the resources and know-how to protect your legal rights after an earthquake-related property loss.

If your car was damaged in an earthquake and you are worried about who will pay for it, please reach out to us as soon as possible. Our legal team is guided by a set of core values, making us proud to champion the rights of victims of natural disasters throughout New Jersey.

We are pleased to uphold the Judd Shaw Way – a 4-point promise that ensures every client receives the highest level of service available. Contact us today at 866-909-6894 or complete our simple online contact form to schedule a free case evaluation. Our representatives are standing by to take your call.

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Content edited by personal injury attorney Judd Shaw. From the beginning, Judd established a set of Core Values laying out the pursuit for excellence in client service. He is a regular host of the Working The Wow podcast, with the belief that providing an exceptional client experience is just as important as delivering a quality service or product. You can find us in Red Bank and Tom‘s River, New Jersey.