When a car accident occurs, there are a lot of variables at stake. But before legal action can be taken, drivers need to seek proper medical treatment for any minor to severe injuries. Another important step following a motor vehicle accident is to assess the property damage to your vehicle. While it’s likely you may need a few repairs, sometimes the aftereffects of a car accident can permanently reduce the value of your car. In that case, you may need to file a diminished value claim in Florida with the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Diminished value under Florida law is typically complex. If you’re wondering, Can I file a diminished value claim in Florida? It’s important to know what the process involves. Luckily, the legal team at Porcaro Law Group is here to answer all your frequently asked questions.
What is a diminished value claim?
A diminished value claim allows accident victims to recover compensation for the difference in a vehicle’s value before and after a crash. For example, let’s say you end up in a fender bender that was caused by a negligent driver. Generally, your first course of action would be to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver’s insurance company to receive financial compensation for any repairs, medical costs, and other stipulating expenses.
However, if you believe the resulting damages knocked down the market value of your car, then you may also want to file a diminished value claim with the insurer. Under Florida law, there are certain limitations to a diminished value case, most of which include:
- If you were the at-fault driver, you cannot claim diminished value.
- The statute of limitations on diminished value is four years from the date of the accident. After the four year window has closed, you cannot seek compensation.
- If the damage to your vehicle was caused by other scenarios separate to the car accident in question, you cannot file a diminished value claim.
Personal injury vs. property damage
There are two main types of car accident claims to take note of: personal injury and property damage. The first deals primarily with the injuries of drivers and passengers in the car. The latter takes into account the physical damage of a person’s vehicle.
Personal injury: These claims refer to any type of injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Minor injuries include cuts and bruises whereas severe injuries result in surgery, loss of limbs, or long-term recovery.
Property damage: Depending on the extent of an accident, the damage to your vehicle could be fixable or no longer drivable. Property damage claims help you pay to repair your vehicle or any loss or damage to physical property.
Accident total loss
In general, when a vehicle is deemed a “total loss” by the insurance company, that means the damage sustained supersedes 70 percent of the car’s market value. In other words, the amount it would cost to repair the damaged vehicle is bordering on the pre-accident value of the car. If your vehicle was worth $13,000 prior to the accident and damages sustained add up to $10,000, this would be considered a total loss situation.
Another instance in which total loss is believed to be relevant is when the vehicle itself is unsafe to drive. Despite the insurance company’s willingness to pay for repairs, there are continued safety risks involved. In this context, the insurance company will usually pay the fair market value versus the cost to repair.
How does the insurance company determine a total loss claim? First, they will calculate the cost of replacing your vehicle and then subtract the depreciation, such as age, mileage and ownership history, prior to the accident. At this point, they’ll need to assess the current market value of your vehicle. And in most cases, they will evaluate the cost of similar cars in the area as well.
How to handle a claim
A diminished value claim can be pursued if another driver is at fault for a car accident and the insurance company is willing to pay for the repair. Because the damage to your car and subsequent accident history can greatly impact a vehicles’ resale value, a diminished value claim is the best way to compensate for those losses. There are three types of diminished value claims:
- Repair-related diminished value — An accident decreases a car’s value for potential buyers. Even if repairs restore a damaged vehicle back to its former glory, the accident history impacts its resale value.
- Immediate diminished value — This type of claim strictly deals with the revalue of a vehicle before and after an accident.
- Inherent diminished value — This legal claim ensures the quality of the repair lives up to the damages done.
Ultimately, filing a diminished value claim makes sure you are compensated fully for the damages caused by the at-fault driver. While you should treat all accident cases with care, there is extra work involved with a diminished value case. Here are the best tips on how to handle a claim:
Gather documentation: Similar to liability cases, diminished value claims also require significant evidence to ensure damages are awarded to the appropriate party. You’ll need things like repair shop invoices, police reports, and photographic proof to back your claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Act fast: Although you have four years to file a diminished value claim, the sooner you file, the better. Because depreciation factors into the valuation of your vehicle, the longer you wait to take action, the less valuable your vehicle is at the time the insurance company assesses your claim.
Consult with a diminished value attorney: Due to the complexity of diminished value claims, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice from an experienced accident attorney. These types of claims can take weeks and even months to process. An attorney will serve as an excellent intermediary between you and the insurance provider.
How to prove diminished value in Florida
In order to substantiate a diminished value claim, you’ll need the expertise of a diminished value attorney in Florida. Unfortunately, these claims tend to be challenging to prove due to the fact that it’s difficult to put a fair, pre-accident value on your vehicle. Hiring an attorney renders you the ability to avoid getting taken advantage of by deep-pocketed insurance companies. Not to mention, you’ll have a skillful negotiator on your side.
Most of the time, a lawyer will recommend hiring an appraiser. This will help you get an appropriate valuation of your vehicle before the accident took place. The appraiser will take into account a number of factors. That includes age, depreciation, mileage, and accident history to determine a fair value. It can also be helpful to receive further support for your claim from experts in the automotive field. Contact the dealership or a reputable repair shop to get the best advice.
Should I use an attorney to claim diminished value in Florida?
In many circumstances, it can be difficult to prove diminished value because the at-fault driver’s insurance company will try to underrate the pre-crash value of your car. To evade these tactics, you’ll want the help of an experienced personal injury to hold the insurance provider accountable.
How do they assess personal injury in a car accident?
The amount of injuries following a crash can vary substantially. The first step in assessing a victim’s injuries is to look at the sustaining injuries. While taking into consideration specific facts surrounding the accident, any medical treatment you receive will be useful documentation to defend your claim.
How do they assess property damage on a vehicle in an accident?
An insurance adjuster is responsible for taking photographs of a car’s condition following an accident. In some cases, the insurance company may also request to have the vehicle assessed at an auto repair shop. Between the adjuster and the auto experts, this is how the insurance company determines the amount of property damage.
What is the typical charge for diminished value claims in Florida?
Diminished value is negotiable and also case-sensitive, meaning there is no industry charge to base your claim off of. However, most insurers use the 17c Diminished Value Formula as a guide to calculating the devaluation of your car.
If you or a loved one have been injured due to the recklessness of an at-fault driver and are looking to file a diminished value claim, it is crucial to get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney. Our firm has won several diminished value claims and gotten our clients the payouts they deserve. While you focus on recovering, our legal team will get to work and be readily available to answer your questions.
Contact Porcaro Law for legal guidance
If you have questions regarding a recent motor vehicle accident, don’t hesitate to contact our team of personal injury attorneys. We’d be happy to walk you through the process of recovering a fair payout. Should you have a case, we can help you file a diminished value claim against the at-fault driver.
Because it can be tricky to put a price on the pre-crash value, we’ll get you in touch with all the right professionals to determine the extent of property damage to your vehicle. We are here for you, meaning we’ll build a strong case to get you the compensation you deserve.
To request a free case review, visit the Porcaro Law website or give us a call at (561) 450-9355.