Can You Sue for Diminished Value of a Car?

Yellow car after accident

When your car is damaged in an auto accident its resale value is likely to be far less than what it would have been if it was never involved in the accident.  The reason for this is your car now has the stigma of “being in an accident” which will make a potential buyer want to offer less money for your vehicle when you go to sell it.  This is loss in resale value is known as your “diminished value” loss. 

You may be wondering if there is anything you can do to recover for a diminished value loss.  While the insurance companies would lead you to believe that you are simply out of luck, you may have the right to file a claim for diminished value.  However, before you think about suing the insurance company you need consider the following:

Were You At Fault for the Accident?

In the State of Florida if you are in a car accident that is not your fault you may have the right to collect your diminished value loss from the at-fault party’s insurance company.  If you are wholly to blame for the accident, however, you will not be able to file a claim in Florida.  Other states, such as Georgia, do permit drivers who are at fault for an accident to recover diminished value.  Additionally, since Florida is a “pure comparative negligence” state if you and the other driver share some degree of blame for the accident, you may be able to recover for the degree that the other driver contributed to your diminished value. 

For example if you are equally to blame for accident and your diminished value claim is worth $10,000, you are entitled to collect 50 percent of the claim - $5,000 from the other driver’s insurance company.

Do You have Detailed Documentation to Support Your Diminished Value Damages?

It is important to know that the insurance companies routinely deny responsibility for diminished value.  This means that you are likely to face an uphill battle against the at-fault party’s insurance company.  A qualified diminished value attorney who knows how the insurance industry operates is likely to provide you with the best chance of getting the money you are owed.  Your attorney can go to work for you to prepare a detailed valuation of your diminished value.  Because your lawyer is very familiar with the auto body community he or she can identify independent expert appraisers who can provide a complete and accurate estimate of your vehicle’s diminution in market value.

Have You Filed a Demand Letter with the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company?

Once your documentation is in order your attorney can submit a demand for payment with the at-fault party’s insurance company.  In Florida you can request payment for both the diminished value on your car and the “loss of use” of your vehicle (the fair market value cost of a rental car equal to the make and model of car that you own ).

If the Insurance Company Refuses To Pay Do You Want to Sue?

In most cases your lawyer should be able to reach a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance carrier within 30-60 days of filing the demand letter.  However, if the insurance company refuses to compensate you for diminished value you will have to decide if you want to sue for diminished value of your car.  Your attorney can outline all of your options and explain the pros and cons of filing a lawsuit against the insurance company.  The legal team at Coffey Trial Diminished Value has decades of experience helping consumers recover compensation from insurance carriers.  When the insurance company doesn’t want to pay you what you are owed we can file a lawsuit on your behalf.  Because we handle these cases on a contingency fee basis, you will be under no obligation to pay us anything for our time and costs until we secure a recovery for you. 

At Coffey Trial Law Diminished Value our goal is to make you whole again.  To get the process started complete our online diminished value intake form.