How to Claim Diminished Value of a Car

Cartoon of car purchase

You Can’t Hide Your Car’s Accident History

When consumers are shopping for a used car they are looking to find the best car for their money.  In trying to figure out if the car is a good deal the consumer may look to online services such as CarFax or Edmunds to uncover more information about the vehicle, including whether it has an accident history.  Even if your car was expertly repaired with no outward indicators that it was previously involved in a crash, a potential buyer can still find out about your car’s accident through these online reports.  As soon as the buyer learns that your car has a prior accident history, he or she will want to spend substantially less to purchase your car.  This is because your car is now viewed as less desirable and has lost market value. 

You May Be Able to Recover Diminished Value

Your car’s loss in market value is known as “diminished value.”  In most states, including Florida, car owners can make a claim for diminished value with the at-fault party’s insurance carrier.  While you may wonder if filing a claim is worth the effort, you need to consider that the difference between what your car was worth prior to and after your accident may be considerable.  For instance, let’s look a situation where an SUV is one year old and in top condition with no prior significant damage.  One day the SUV is hit from behind by another driver and sustains $9,000 in damages.  Even after the SUV is repaired to new condition when the owner goes to sell the vehicle he discovers that it is now worth $5,000 less because of the accident.  The owner of the vehicle has suffered a significant diminished value loss and has the right to be compensated.  After all, the purpose of insurance is to make you whole again when an accident occurs. Additionally, the SUV was in the shop for 5 weeks being repaired and a comparable rental car would cost $89.00, but the owner was limited to a rental worth $35.00 per day.  The SUV owner is entitled to a claim for loss of use for the difference in value, $54.00, times 35 days or $1,890.00.

How to Claim Diminished Value of a Car in an Accident

If your car has been involved in an accident and you are considering filing a diminished value claim the first thing you need to do is to get your proof in order.  You need to be able to demonstrate that your car has lost market value because of the accident.  While you could attempt to prove your loss on your own, an experienced team of diminished value professionals can make the process a whole lot easier for you.

At Coffey Trial Law Diminished Value we know how to claim diminished value of a car in an accident. Our diminished value law firm will prepare a detailed diminished valuation report for you.  We have access to independent experienced appraisers who are highly knowledgeable in collision damage analysis and market value to properly document the diminished value of your vehicle. Once we have established the amount of your diminished value loss, we will submit a formal demand to the insurance carrier including the documents proving your loss.  In most cases we will hear back from the insurance carrier in less than 30 days.  The insurance carrier may agree to pay you in full or try to negotiate down your demand.  In some instances the carrier may reject your claim outright.  Regardless of the response our legal team will be prepared to stand up for your rights.  We are strong negotiators who know how get favorable results for our clients.  However, if the insurance company refuses to agree to a reasonable settlement, our lawyers can file a law suit to help you recover the money that you deserve. 

If You Have Sustained Personal Injuries Do Not Sign a General Release

In addition to the vehicle’s diminished value, consumers may sustain personal injuries in a car accident which they can be compensated for. If you have a potential personal injury claim you should never sign any general releases associated with your diminished value claim.  The reason being is that you may have medical bills, lost wages and other expenses from your injuries that you can recover from the insurance company.  If you sign a release you will be forfeiting your right to file a personal injury claim.  Similarly, if you have already filed a personal injury claim do not sign any releases in connection with this claim, because you may be giving up your right to collect your diminished value losses.  The best thing you can do in either case is to consult with a qualified diminished value attorney at our firm who can take the appropriate steps to help you protect all of your legal rights.