After an accident, collisions that don’t result in the car being totally destroyed can still cause significant damage to your vehicle. The fact is that even if a mechanic or body shop is able to restore your car to an acceptable condition, being in an accident is likely to decrease the value of the vehicle.
Many people involved in an accident ask if they are entitled to compensation for the loss in value to their vehicle. This is where the idea of a diminished value claim comes from.
By learning more about this concept, and how an experienced attorney can help, you can gain a better understanding of how it may help your case.
What is a Diminished Value Claim?
Florida law establishes that drivers are entitled to compensation for the diminished value (DV) of their motor vehicle after a car accident. This is based on the idea that a reasonable consumer would refuse to pay full value for a car with an accident in the vehicle history.
The evaluation is made against comparable motor vehicles available in the local market — including the year, make, model, condition, and mileage — that have not been in an accident. Additionally, the comparison must be made against cars that have been appraised and/or sold within the preceding 90 days.
Types of Diminished Value Claims
There are three primary types of diminished value claims that motorists should be aware of:
- Inherent Diminished Value: This is the most common type, and makes up most diminished value claims that people file. Inherent diminished value is the fundamental idea of a vehicle losing value due to a report on its accident history.
- Immediate Diminished Value: This refers to damages that immediately decrease the value of the vehicle, whether they are repaired or not. In most situations, auto insurance will cover these repairs, which is why immediate diminished value claims are rare.
- Repair-Related Diminished Value: If improper or lower-quality repairs are made and the vehicle cannot be restored to an acceptable condition, a repair-related diminished value claim may be necessary.
The type of diminished value claim you file and the compensation you are entitled to is dependent on many factors, including your auto insurance policy and the nature of the accident.
How to File a Diminished Value Claim in Florida
The statute of limitations to file a diminished value claim in Florida is four years from the date of the accident. However, you must have information regarding the value of the car as soon as possible after the accident. Additional wear and tear and mileage from the passage of time will not be considered in such a claim.
When filing a diminished value claim, you will include it as a cause of action in your regular negligence lawsuit. For example, if you got injured in the accident, had to miss time off work, and are now concerned about your car’s lost value, you file a lawsuit with all claims. This means a claim for personal injuries, one for lost wages, and one for the diminished value of your vehicle, all under one suit.
Requirements for a Diminished Value Claim & How to Calculate Your Car’s Value
There are several steps to follow in order to file a diminished value claim as part of a larger negligence lawsuit:
- Determine the coverage for diminished vehicle value under both your and the other driver’s insurance.
- Determine the original value of your vehicle.
- Have an appraisal performed on your vehicle to determine the current value.
The specific dollar amount has to be calculated, and you must provide proof in writing when establishing your claim. To do so, look for information on the value of your car prior to the accident — by using information such as the make, model, features, condition, and mileage.
Then, get your motor vehicle inspected as soon as possible after the accident. Florida Statutes Section 626.9743 requires a person filing such a claim to provide documentation that includes itemized dollar amounts of all parts of the vehicle that were damaged.
When repairing your vehicle, the itemized sections should include the value of the original parts that need to be replaced. The party who caused the accident cannot require the use of replacement parts that are not at least equivalent in kind and quality to the damaged parts in terms of fit, appearance, and performance.
How Can a Lawyer Help in a Diminished Value Claim Case?
You should always speak with an experienced attorney after a car accident. Attorneys will have experience in working with your insurance company, the other party’s insurance, law enforcement, and any other necessary parties to ensure that an accurate and fair investigation takes place.
When talking to your insurance provider, any statement you make can be used as an admission of partial responsibility for the accident, or as an affirmation that your vehicle may have been worth less than what it was prior to the accident. Having a qualified attorney on your side can give you the best chance at receiving a fair settlement and compensation for injuries and damages, including the diminished value of your vehicle.
Call Clark Law For Experienced Accident Attorneys
If you have been involved in a car accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients involved in motor vehicle accidents, and we can help you determine the best next step.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.