How to Make a Diminished Value Claim in Florida

When a vehicle has been in a car accident, it has a blot on its record. You might expect the car to have future problems it may not have if it hadn’t been in a crash. The questions and uncertainty that come with a crash history reduce the overall market value of the vehicle.

After a car accident, you will want to work with an experienced car accident attorney to ensure your diminished value claim is compiled correctly. This careful preparation of your claim will ensure you can get the most compensation possible. Here’s what you should know about making a diminished value claim in Florida.

What is Diminished Value?

Diminished value is the inherent reduction in a vehicle’s value because the vehicle has been in a crash. Even if you repair the vehicle as good as new, the vehicle isn’t worth as much as it was worth a second before the collision occurred. The difference in value before and after an accident is your vehicle’s diminished value.

How Do I Make a Diminished Value Claim in Florida?

If your vehicle gets damaged in a car accident in Florida, your vehicle’s diminished value is a genuine loss. If the other driver is at fault for the crash, you can make a claim to their insurance company to pay you for the difference in your vehicle’s inherent value before and after the accident. You can ask their insurance company to compensate you up to the original market value of your vehicle before the crash.

Property Damage Liability Insurance and Your Diminished Value Claim

All Florida drivers must carry two types of insurance – Personal Injury Protection (PIP) liability insurance and Property Damage Liability (PDL) insurance. PIP insurance pays you and your family directly when you’re in a crash. It’s insurance that you take out that pays you for medical damages whether or not you’re at fault for the accident.

Related: How MedPay/PIP Insurance Can Help You After a Car Accident

PDL insurance works differently. PDL insurance pays the other party for their property damage if you’re at fault for the crash. It doesn’t pay you for your own property damages.

So if you’re in a car accident and you’re not at fault, you look to the other party’s PDL insurance to pay for your losses. They should pay for your vehicle repairs, or if your vehicle is totaled, they should pay you for the fair market value of your vehicle at the time of the crash. If your vehicle isn’t totaled, your claim against the insurance company should include compensation for the inherent diminished value of your vehicle because it has been in a crash.

How Do I Prove My Case?

To make your claim to the insurance company, or if you bring your claim in court, you need to be able to justify what you’re claiming for diminished value. That means gathering evidence of your vehicle’s value both before and after the accident. It’s important to have your car inspected as soon as you can after the accident.

You can use a third-party appraisal guide like Kelley Blue Book to show the approximate value of the vehicle before the crash. Also, your attorney can help you work with expert appraisers that can put a dollar figure on your vehicle’s diminished value.

Cases From Florida Courts Affirm Your Right to Recover for Diminished Value

Diminished vehicle value is an often overlooked part of an accident claim. But Florida courts have affirmed the rights of vehicle owners to bring a claim for diminished value after an accident. One of the earliest Florida cases about diminished value is Airtech Service Inc v MacDonald Construction Company.

The 1963 case involved an airplane that was damaged in a fire. The court explained that diminished value is a fair category of damages after an accident. Another notable case is Siegle v. Progressive Consumer’s Insurance Company in 2002. That case said that a vehicle driver may recover from the at-fault driver’s insurance for the diminished value of their vehicle.

Recovering From Your Own Insurance Policy

If the other driver doesn’t have vehicle insurance, there’s a chance that you may be able to recover for diminished value from your own insurance company. If you have underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, it may bridge the gap for your diminished value claim after a crash. Not all underinsured and uninsured motorist insurance coverage includes compensation for diminished value.

Related: Car Accidents Involving Uninsured & Underinsured Drivers in Florida

If you’re at fault for the accident, it’s unlikely that your insurance policy allows you to recover for diminished value. But it depends on the exact wording of your insurance policy. Carefully read your policy to determine what’s covered in your case.

Time Limits to Bring Your Claim

In a perfect world, getting paid from the insurance company for your diminished value claim is as easy as filing an insurance claim and collecting fair payment. However, if the insurance company refuses to pay your claim or they don’t pay you fairly, you may need to bring a claim in court to collect what you deserve.

You have four years from the date of the accident to bring your claim. Getting your case filed before the deadline is important.

How an Accident Lawyer Can Help

Dealing with the complex aspects of a car accident claim can be stressful. That’s why it’s essential to work with a lawyer to ensure you get the best outcome possible.

At Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys, we are committed to doing everything we can to help you build a case for fair recovery after an accident. We will help you take the right steps to prove the amount of diminished value in your accident case.

If you need help valuing your vehicle for diminished value, call us at (813) 333-6666 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free case evaluation. There is no fee unless we win.

 

About the Author

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

For more than 35 years, personal injury lawyer Jack G. Bernstein has protected the rights of individuals who have been injured in a variety of circumstances. Mr. Bernstein is a member of the Florida State Bar Association, the Hillsborough Bar Association and the Clearwater Bar Association.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.