As a Florida driver, you know how important it is to carry an adequate amount of car insurance. It's required by law, and buying the best coverage you can afford will also help you get medical care and insurance payments for property damage after an accident.
Unfortunately, there are some situations in which insurance won't be enough to cover your losses after a crash.
For instance, if you were struck while driving your brand-new car, the car will now have an accident history. Even if the repairs are excellent and the car still looks brand-new, it was involved in a collision, which can take thousands of dollars off of the resale value. In these cases, a diminished value claim can help drivers collect the difference between the original price and post-accident price of their vehicles.
How to Get Compensation in a Diminished Value Claim
Florida law allows drivers to recover the difference between a car’s pre-crash value and its value after repairs from an insurer. Since these payments vary widely, our attorneys represent clients in diminished value claims on a contingency-fee basis, fighting for the maximum amount of loss to your vehicle.
Compensation for the lost value of your car depends on the following factors:
- Fault. In Florida, you can only seek compensation for diminished value from an at-fault driver's insurance company. If you are found to be at fault for the accident, you won't be able to pursue a diminished value claim against your policy.
- Uninsured motorist coverage. You can make a successful diminished value claim on your insurance policy if the driver who struck you doesn't have enough insurance and you have uninsured motorist coverage. The law essentially states that if diminished value could be properly recovered from the at-fault party if they had insurance, your uninsured motorist coverage should make up the difference.
- Time limits. Florida drivers have three years from the date of accident to file a diminished value claim against an at-fault driver.
- Appraisals. You'll need an accurate appraisal of the car’s value both before the accident and after the repairs have been done. An experienced appraiser uses a variety of metrics to determine the amount of value a vehicle has lost, including an analysis of the auto market in your area, inspection of the collision damage, and thorough knowledge of how damage history affects auto depreciation. Since most used cars are sold to dealers, it's helpful to obtain a trade-in value letter from several car dealers with an estimate of the value of your car. The dealership should also state the reasons why your car is valued at that trade-in price, drawing a clear line from an accident history to a lower retail value.
- Evidence. There are many ways to prove the loss in value of your vehicle. For example, if the repairs didn't restore the car to its exact condition before the crash, you must show adequate evidence to support this, such as copies of work orders outlining which parts were used and how they affect a car’s performance. If the car doesn't look the same, you should have photos of mismatched paint, gaps in seals, and other aesthetic differences.
Let Our Attorneys Review Your Diminished Value Claim
Insurance companies often fight these kinds of claims, denying a driver’s right to recover or lowballing the amount of equity that has been lost. Our attorneys can inspect vehicles, review your repair documents, draft demand letters to insurance companies, and fight for your rights in court. Let us maximize the value of your claim and deal with the insurance company on your behalf. Call us today for an evaluation of your case, or fill out the form on this page to describe your situation to one of our car accident attorneys.