If your vehicle has been damaged in an accident that was caused due to the fault of another, then Florida law entitles you to recover damages for the diminished value of your vehicle.
What is a diminished value claim, exactly?
Florida plaintiffs are entitled to make a diminished value claim for the depreciated and therefore lost market value of their vehicle following an accident. There are many types of diminished value, such as repair-related diminished value and inherent diminished value.
Inherent diminished value is referring to the decrease in the market value of a vehicle that has been in an accident. The reality is that vehicles with an accident history (and with more extensive accident histories) have a lower market value than vehicles without an extensive accident history, even if the vehicle in question has been repaired to perfect condition.
Repair-related diminished value is referring to the additional decrease in the market value of a vehicle that has had repairs, but those repairs are either flawed or incomplete.
Though most Florida plaintiffs are entitled to assert a diminished value claim, certain circumstances bar a plaintiff from recovering for the diminished value of their vehicle – some more obvious than others.
Statute of Limitations
In Florida, the statute of limitations for diminished value claims is 4 years. The statute of limitations operates as a deadline for filing your claim. If you fail to file your diminished value claim before the deadline passes, then you will be prevented from recovering damages for diminished value through legal means. As the statute of limitations can act as a complete bar on your ability to recover for diminished value, it’s critical that you consult with a qualified diminished value claim attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
Florida law allows for plaintiffs to recover damages for diminished value from the at-fault party’s insurer, and normally does not allow for a diminished value plaintiff to file a claim against his or her own insurance.
In the event that the at-fault party is uninsured or underinsured, however, then Florida law does allow the plaintiff to recover damages for diminished value against their own uninsured motorist policy (so long as the plaintiff can show that they would have been able to recover such damages against the at-fault party’s insurer, had they been adequately covered).
Whether a plaintiff will be able to recover depends largely on the language of their particular uninsured motorist policy, as some insurers find ways to contract around this possibility, so make sure to consult an attorney who will assess the limitations and opportunities presented by your policy.
In Florida, you cannot file a diminished value claim if you were at-fault for the accident – in other words, if you caused the accident, you cannot recover damages for diminished value.
Still, what constitutes “at-fault” in Florida? In many accidents, the plaintiff may have contributed to the accident despite not being the substantial cause of the accident itself. Though it may be difficult to infer fault initially (without further investigation into the mechanics of the accident), so long as you were not the prime mover in causing the accident, it is likely that you will be able to file a diminished value claim and potentially recover damages relating to such losses.
Pursuing a diminished value claim is easier with the support of an experienced team of attorneys. Our team at Coffey Trial Law is committed to the success of your claims. Contact us as soon as possible.