If your car sustains damage in an accident someone else caused, their insurance company traditionally pays for the necessary repairs. However, even if the repairs return your vehicle to like-new condition, its value may diminish. The legal term for this phenomenon is “diminution,” or the diminishing of monetary value.
Under Florida law, a vehicle owner can pursue a claim for diminution from the negligent party, typically by filing directly with their insurance company. However, to make this claim, you must provide clear proof of the diminution and its dollar value. The Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can help prove your claim for diminished value and other damages. Call us today for a free case evaluation at 1-800-747-3733.
What Is Diminished Value in a Car Insurance Claim?
After a car crash, even once your car repairs are complete, your vehicle’s market value diminishes as compared to the identical vehicle that never sustained damage in an accident. Thus, diminution can make it challenging for you to sell your car now that its resale value has fallen because it has been in an accident.
The reasons a car’s value diminishes after an accident primarily relates to safety and the subsequent buyer’s concerns about value. If you are pursuing a diminished value car insurance claim, your situation may fall into one of three categories:
- Immediate diminished value: This concerns the difference in the car’s value right before and right after the accident occurs. It refers to the difference between how much the car would be worth if you traded it in or tried to sell it immediately after a crash. This is the most common scenario among claims of this type.
- Inherent diminished value: This category of diminished value concerns what the car was worth before an accident and what it is worth after you have it repaired. Even if it has received top-notch repairs, a car is perceived to be less reliable or safe, so its value drops due to its accident history.
- Repair-related diminished value: A car’s reduced value in this category refers to the repair’s quality or the quality of the parts used to fix the vehicle after an accident.
The Stigma of an ‘Accident Car’ Can Make Resale Tough
Used car buyers often avoid buying an “accident car,” as many vehicle history reporting services call them. If there is evidence of towing on a car history report, buyers inherently fear a serious accident and extensive damages.
Consumers understand that insurance companies do not like paying claims, and unethical auto repair shops sometimes take shortcuts. So, even if your vehicle underwent the highest quality of repairs, a buyer may be unwilling to take that chance.
You Could Even Have Problems Trading Your Vehicle
Even if you plan to trade your vehicle in at the dealership rather than sell it yourself, the dealer knows that a formerly wrecked vehicle carries a stigma that makes it a tough sell – and worth significantly less than an equivalent vehicle that did not sustain damage in an accident.
Who Is Responsible for Paying Your Diminished Value Claim?
The Florida statutes addressing the settlement of motor vehicle claims give legal standing to a vehicle owner to pursue a diminished value claim from an at-fault driver (or that driver’s insurance company.)
How do You Prove Diminished Value in a Car Insurance Claim?
Depending on the make, model, year, and amenities, the diminished value of your vehicle could be many thousands of dollars. In Florida, the plaintiff (claimant) carries the burden of proving the diminished value of their vehicle. This means that you (and your Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer, if you have one) must document your vehicle’s diminution.
Proving diminution can present a significant challenge, especially to a vehicle owner. Some collision damage repair shops can estimate your car’s value with and without having undergone damage and repair. However, the insurance company may not accept this assessment.
We Can Consult with Experts on Your Car’s Value
Ideally, you’ll be able to call on a certified vehicle appraiser or another recognized industry expert to handle the research for you. These professionals have extensive knowledge of vehicle markets, particularly in your area, and the ability to analyze collision damage and the quality of completed repairs.
Car accident lawyers have access to such subject matter experts if you struggle to find someone who can verify your diminution to the insurance company’s satisfaction.
How Long Do You Have to File Your Claim?
Insurance companies look for every opportunity they can find to get away with reducing or denying your compensation. With this in mind, it is important that you file your claim before the statute of limitations expires. Under Florida Statutes § 95.11(3)(a), the personal injury statute of limitations expires four years after the accident.
However, the allotted legal deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit could be longer or shorter based on the facts of your specific case. If your loved one passed away as a result of the car accident, you may be eligible for additional damages due to wrongful death. The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of your family member’s passing per Florida Statutes § 95.11(4)(d).
If your lawsuit is filed before the statute of limitations expires, you may be able to pursue compensation. I’d like to point out that an attorney familiar with Florida law can ensure your case is filed in a timely manner.
Will Shared Fault Affect Your Right to Compensation
Yes, sharing fault for your car accident can impact your ability to recover compensation for your damages. Florida operates under a pure comparative negligence system per Florida Statutes § 768.81. Here, sharing fault does not bar you from financial recovery.
The state makes sure to hold injury victims accountable when they share fault by reducing the amount they are awarded. If you share fault for your injuries, your injury settlement will then be reduced in proportion to your percentage of blame.
For instance, if you were found 30% at fault for the accident, you could still receive 70% of your injury settlement. So, let’s say you are awarded $100,000 in damages, that amount would be reduced by $30,000, and you would take home $70,000.
How Can a Florida Car Accident Lawyer Help You?
If you are still unsure whether you should hire a car accident attorney for help, consider the ways a Florida injury lawyer could help you recover maximum compensation for your damages. Your lawyer can do the following:
- Investigate the cause of your accident
- Gather evidence to support your case
- Help you pursue claims with the insurance company
- Negotiate with insurance adjusters
- Prepare your case for trial
- Advocate for maximum compensation in court
Get Help From a Car Accident Lawyer in Florida Today
Car accident lawyers work daily to help their clients recover damages sustained in Florida car accidents, including car repair and diminished value claims.
Contact the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine today at 1-800-747-3733 to learn more. You can schedule a no-cost consultation to speak to one of our Florida car accident lawyers, who will help you determine if you have a valid diminished value car insurance claim.
We Can Help.