If you have ever bought a second-hand car, you will know that looking into a car’s record of prior accidents is an important step.
Why is this? This is because past accidents the car was in might have caused damage to the structure of the car, even if you cannot immediately see anything wrong with it. The damage caused to the vehicle might have been internal and not easily spotted rather than simply external damage.
Prior accidents significantly lower the market value of a car. So, imagine getting into a car accident, and the majority of the fault lies with the other party. You should consider filing a diminished value claim against them.
Let us first define what diminished value is. This can be defined as the difference in the market value of a vehicle prior to an accident and its value after the accident after it goes through the necessary repairs by reason of the accident.
This claim takes into account the previous value of your vehicle before the accident, and the value it has just lost by getting into that accident. Think about it. That accident may have just decreased your car’s resale value on sites such as CARFAX, even if it was not your fault! On top of the expenses you had to shell out on having your vehicle repaired, there is a possibility that you might not get sufficient compensation for your vehicle because of the accident. You deserve compensation for your vehicle’s lost value.
For a person to be able to drive in Florida, they must first avail of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as well as coverage for property damage liability, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The state of Florida is a diminished value state. In fact, with the exception of Nebraska, all states in the United States allow for car owners to claim for diminished value via insurance companies.
In the case of the state Florida, courts have affirmed that a vehicle owner has the right to bring forth a claim for diminished value against the at-fault party’s insurance provider. This was upheld in the diminished value claim landmark case of Siegle v. Progressive.
Likewise, Consumer’s Insurance Company in 2002, where the driver was able to recover the diminished value of their vehicle from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In that instance, the value of the “loss” was defined as “direct and accidental loss or damage to your insured auto, including its equipment.” So, if you have been in a car accident which is attributable to the fault of another driver, consider filing additional diminished value claims and get the loss compensation you are entitled to. Having the help of an experienced car accident attorney will be beneficial to you as they know the ins and outs of car insurance claims.
What Factors Impact a Diminished Value Claim? (especially in Florida)?
In deciding on whether you should pursue a diminished value claim or not, there are several factors that you have to consider. These factors consider the damage inflicted on your car as well as your car’s market value prior to the accident. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Your vehicle’s make
- Your vehicle’s model
- Your vehicle’s mileage
- Your vehicle’s year of manufacturing
- Your vehicle’s history before the current accident
- Your vehicle’s market value before the current accident
Information pertaining to the accident
- Your vehicle’s condition prior to the crash
- Your vehicle’s condition post-crash
- Extent of damage done to your vehicle
- Cost of repair
- Condition of the vehicle after repair
- Your vehicle’s market value with the added accident history
Keep in mind that if your car is brand new, relatively new or is a luxury vehicle, then the diminished value that you could claim could be quite high, with a value ranging in the thousands of dollars. On the other hand, if your vehicle is on the older side and has more mileage, or it was already in a bad condition prior to the accident, the diminished value may be much smaller, and it might even be negligible.
Understandably, assessing the damage can be quite confusing and difficult for someone to navigate for someone who is not familiar with Florida’s vehicle accident laws. This is where the presence of an experienced car accident lawyer with an extensive background can prove valuable. An experienced attorney will be able to support and walk you through the process, and help you determine whether or not making a claim against the insurance company will be in your best interest.
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help You File a Diminished Value Claim
Oftentimes, filing this type of claim is a lot more complicated than just handing over documents containing your vehicle’s history and data to an appraiser and waiting for them to turn over their results to you. The following are some examples of the trouble you might run into if you ever do decide to file the claim on your own:
Dealing with the Insurance Company: Often, insurance companies will want to settle at the soonest possible time. They are used to these types of claims and they will often offer low-ball sums at the onset of the claim, in the hopes that you are inexperienced and you take their offer immediately. A highly experienced car accident attorney can advise you on whether the insurance settlement being offered is sufficient or not. Your attorney may advise you to file a diminished value claim if the majority of fault lies with the other party and the accident caused your car’s value to drop significantly.
Navigating Liability and Fault: Deciding on where the liability and fault lies in a car accident is always a tricky situation. The insurance companies will have their idea, and so will you and the other driver. The things you say, how you say it, and the evidence that you have to prove your claims are going to significantly impact the way your case unfolds and how you are compensated for it. Having an experienced car accident lawyer by your side during this time means you will not be taken advantage of by the insurance company, or coerced by them into taking a settlement that’s less than the amount that you are entitled to. A car accident lawyer will help you make sure your story is being properly heard and you get the amount commensurate with the damage and value lost for your vehicle.
Aiding Appraisal Issues: Unfortunately in most cases, the credibility of the appraiser of your own choosing for your claim can be challenged by the insurance company. They will have their own appraisers in their employ who may possibly calculate values for the loss that are much lower than the one which you actually obtained in the accident. This disparity in amounts may cause significant friction during your claim process. It can be a terrible and distressing situation that you can find yourself in. A car accident attorney can help you navigate through this legal process with confidence and give you some peace of mind.
Filing a Lawsuit: Having a car accident lawyer by your side is beneficial in a number of ways because they can file your case and take your claims to court, should the need for it arise. Although in most cases claims are settled out of court, and your attorney can guide you through that process as well, if the insurance settlement discussions with the provider break down, your lawyer can file a lawsuit on your behalf. It is the threat of litigation, and everything it entails, that often pushes a usually stubborn insurance company to settle with their claimants. By engaging the services of a car accident lawyer you can deter the insurance provider from bullying and pushing you around, and lowballing you when settlement negotiations go awry.
Get Help Today: Contact Browning Law Firm in Fort Walton Beach, FL
Filing a diminished value claim is a facet of settlement that is often overlooked by people who have been involved in a car accident. It is most likely because they are not aware of their rights to do so, or they are unfamiliar with the process of how to go about it. However, if your car has lost a significant amount of value by reason of the accident, filing a claim against the at-fault party and their car insurance provider might be what you need in order to get your car repaired or replace it with a new one.
Here at Browning Law Firm in Fort Walton Beach, FL, we have years of experience in dealing with the intricate and very complicated details involved in Florida car accident law, insurance settlements, and diminished value claims. We will help you with the very complicated process of filing such a claim.
Contact us today for a FREE initial consultation and let us help you get the compensation you so rightly deserve.