In general, diminished value laws state that a car must inevitably lose monetary value after it has been in an accident, even if the damage was minor and has been repaired. The diminished value law in Florida is that, while insurance policies do not have to cover diminished value, car owners may file a separate claim or lawsuit for their car’s lost worth.
Why Is Diminished Value Important?
A car that has been in an accident is not as desirable to potential buyers. After you have been in an accident, your car immediately and permanently loses value. This is true even if:
- The accident was not your fault
- The damage was very minor
- You get the car fixed by a reputable, competent mechanic
This phenomenon is called diminished value or diminution in value. It has major implications for your financial future. If you try to sell or trade-in your car, you could be forced to accept much less than you would have received had you not been in the accident.
It is unfair that you, as the accident victim, should continue to suffer financial losses due to someone else’s negligence. Fortunately, there are ways for you to seek reimbursement for present and future damages.
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Must I Go to Court for Diminished Value Claims?
In some cases, you may have to go to court and seek a jury award for diminished value damages. This would involve scheduling court dates on which you would present evidence to the court and explain why you deserve the amount of damages you are seeking.
A car accident attorney can take much of the uncertainty out of seeking diminished value damages and other forms of compensation. They can help you pursue your case by:
- Assessing the damage done to your property and your person
- Investigating the causes of the accident
- Determining how much value your car lost by subtracting its current worth from its pre-accident worth
- Calculating other forms of damages you might be entitled to receive
- Meeting with the liable party’s insurance company to hammer out a settlement agreement, if possible
- Preparing for trial and representing you in the courtroom, if necessary
- Answering all of your questions about what diminished value is, how the law works, what your rights are, and more
What does Car Insurance Cover?
If you suffered a major injury and damage to your car in a traffic accident, you can seek compensation from the party that caused the crash. This includes compensation for diminished value. According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), car owners in Florida are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance and property damage liability (PDL) insurance. All other types of insurance are optionable.
If you suffered an injury, your own PIP insurance will cover certain medical and other expenses, regardless of who caused the crash. If someone else hits your car, their PDL insurance will cover at least some of the damage. This coverage may include the cost of:
- Hiring a mechanic to repair your car
- Purchasing a new car of equal or lesser value, if your car is beyond repair
- Renting a car
- Using public transportation
- Other expenses associated with your car’s damage or being unable to use your car
PDL insurance does not necessarily cover diminished value. To recover compensation for your property’s lost value, you can file a lawsuit against the party responsible for the damage.
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Who Owes You Diminished Value Damages?
The party you negotiate with or take to court will be the party who caused your accident. Identifying that party so you can notify their insurance company about your lawsuit is, therefore, a critical part of the legal process.
In many cases, the liable party will be a driver who hit you or caused you to swerve off the road. More rarely, the liable party will be an auto part manufacturer, a maintenance team, or a local government entity.
When Can I Sue for Diminished Value Damages?
The amount of time you have to file a lawsuit depends on what other injuries you sustained in the accident. If you suffered a personal injury, the deadline is four years, according to Florida Statutes § 95.11. If your loved one passed away due to accident injuries, the deadline is two years.
Other factors specific to your case could also shorten the time you have to file. It is important to act quickly to preserve your right to diminished value damages.
For More Information, Call Today
When you contact us for a free case review, a member of our team can tell you more about what the diminished value law is in Florida and how you can receive compensation for your property’s lost value. The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine has team members standing by now to take your call.
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