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About Diminished Value Claims in Florida
Have you been involved in a car accident with property damage? If your car was repaired, there is a chance that the value of the vehicle dropped because of your automobile accident. If you did not cause the accident (meaning that you were not at fault for the accident), you may be able to pursue a diminished value claim against the at-fault driver.
You can bring a diminished value claim if your vehicle was not a total loss because of your car accident and if you were not at fault for the accident. Diminished value claims will help cover the decrease in value of your vehicle because of a car accident. Think about it - if you were buying a car, would you pay the same price for a car that has been in an accident as one that has not? Of course not. Because of this, Florida allows not-at-fault vehicle owners to bring diminished value claims against the at-fault drivers.
Diminished Value Claims in Orlando
It is no secret that Orlando has a large amount of traffic. Orlando also has a large amount of car accidents. After you are involved in a car accident, you will want to get medical care and treatment for your injuries. Once you are stable, you may start to wonder who is going to pay for the repairs to your motor vehicle.
Usually I tell my clients to schedule the repairs to their vehicle through their own insurance. In order to do that, you need to have collision coverage insurance. Collision insurance covers your property damage after a car accident. If you are involved in a car accident and someone else is at fault, you also have the option of filing a claim with their insurance carrier. Your car would be repaired under the at-fault driver’s “property damage” coverage.
After your car is repaired, it will not be as valuable as it was before the accident. This is because a damaged or repaired car is not as desirable to potential buyers.
Requirements for Filing a Diminished Value Claim in Florida
- The following is a list of requirements that must be met before you file a diminished value claim:
- You cannot be at-fault for the collision
- You must own your car (or it is financed)
- Your car cannot be a lease
- Your car must be repaired (cannot be a total loss)
- Your car must have a decreased value because of the damage to the vehicle or the at-fault driver must have insurance or have assets to go after
Who Can File a Diminished Value Claim in Florida
In Florida, anybody who was involved in a car accident that was not their fault can file a diminished value claim. This is subject to the requirements listed above. You must own your car and you cannot be at fault for the accident. This is because your insurance company will not pay you for diminished value. Filing a claim against your insurance company is called a “first party claim.” Insurance companies specifically exclude diminished value from coverage for first party claims. This means that you can only file a diminished value claim against the at-fault driver.
What is Florida Law on Diminished Value Claims
The State of Florida recognizes diminished value cases. Florida allows for not-at-fault parties to bring a diminished value case against an at-fault party. Pursuant to Fla. Stat. 95.11, you have four years from the date of the accident to bring a diminished value case. This means that you must settle with the at-fault party or file a lawsuit within four years from the date of your accident.
You are not required to sell your vehicle to make a diminished value claim. You can bring a diminished value claim prior to the sale of your vehicle.
How to Prove a Diminished Value Claim
To prove your diminished value claim, you will need testimony to provide the court. Essentially, you will need to prove two things - that you were not at fault for the car accident and what the lost value of your vehicle is.
Proving that you are not at fault for the accident can be done through your own testimony, testimony of the at-fault driver, and testimony of eyewitnesses to the accident.
Proving the loss of value of your vehicle will need to be done through expert testimony. This is where a lot of people can get in trouble with diminished value claims.
Should I Use a Diminished Value Company
A quick google search for diminished value will show that there are companies who will help you with diminished value claims. I would caution anyone to stay away from these companies. Since they are not attorneys, they legally cannot represent you in a claim or in a court.
You will want to retain an experienced lawyer to help with your diminished value claim. If you are required to file a lawsuit, an experienced attorney will help you to avoid the pitfalls.
I actually used to help insurance companies defend against diminished value lawsuits. Usually the person bringing the diminished value claim was “pro-se,” meaning that they did not have an attorney representing them. I consistently found that these plaintiffs failed to lay a proper foundation for the admissions of expert testimony. This means that the case could be thrown out at trial and the insurance company would win the case.
Remember, as the plaintiff you have the burden of proving your case. Even though a diminished value case may not be worth a million dollars, the same rules of evidence will apply to a diminished value case as a personal injury car accident case.
Can You Sue for Diminished Value?
Yes, you can. However, prior to filing a lawsuit it is usually in everyone’s best interest to try to resolve the matter amicably. If you cannot come to a resolution, you may have to file a lawsuit to recoup the full value of your claim. Usually, a diminished value lawsuit will be filed in Florida’s small claims court or county court.
How You Determine the Value of Your Diminished Value Claim
It is a basic principle in Florida that someone who causes an accident is liable to make the injured party whole again. This means that if you are injured, the at-fault person should pay for your medical bills and treatment. If there is damage to your property, the at-fault person should be required to pay for your property to be repaired or replaced.
In diminished value claims, the at-fault party should be required to restore your damaged vehicle to the pre-accident value. This will be done through a combination of repairs to your vehicle and an out-of-pocket payment for the diminished value.
To determine the value of your diminished value claim, you will need to determine what the pre and post-accident value of your vehicle is. The difference between the two values is the value of your claim.
Insurance companies will try to confuse or intimidate you by applying the “17c formula.” This is nonsense. My opinion - the 17c formula is simply something that was developed by insurance companies to reduce the amount of money that they had to pay out on diminished value claims. You diminished value claim is based on what the market is willing to pay for your vehicle after the accident.
Things You Need to do to File a Diminished Value Claim in Florida
In order to file a diminished value claim in Florida, you will need to have your vehicle repaired. After your vehicle is repaired, you will need to file a claim with the at-fault insurance company to let them know that you intend to file a diminished value claim. You will want to obtain an expert’s opinion about the value of your diminished value case. Once you have obtained this expert testimony, you will want to send a demand package to the at-fault driver’s insurance company with the amount of money that you want to settle the claim for.
Are Insurance Companies Required to Pay Diminished Value Claims?
No, they are not. As I discussed above, your insurance company will not provide coverage or payment for the loss of value of your vehicle. The at-fault insurance company is not required to pay diminished value claims, however it is usually in their best interest to try to resolve the claim without having a lawsuit filed against their insured.
What is the Typical Recovery in a Diminished Value Case
The typical recovery in a diminished value case ranges from $1,000-$2,000 to upwards of $10,000. Generally speaking, the newer and more expensive the car is, the greater the diminished value claim is. It is difficult to obtain a large settlement or verdict in a diminished value claim on a 1992 Honda accord (no offense to Honda accords!). On the opposite side, if you have a brand new Toyota Camry or BMW 7 series and are involved in an accident, you may be able to obtain a relatively large recovery for your diminished value.
A lot of this depends on the at-fault insurance company and what their views are on diminished value claims. Some of the most common insurance companies in the state of Florida are Geico, State Farm, and Progressive. Other insurance companies are USAA, Travelers, Farmers, and Mercury. Each insurance company treats diminished value claims differently.
About Diminished Value Attorney Brian Dunmire
Of course, if you have never filed an insurance claim before this can all be quite overwhelming. Attorney Brian Dunmire is experienced in diminished value claims and only represents clients who are trying to be reimbursed for their claim. Prior to becoming a victim’s rights attorney, Brian represented insurance companies and large corporations. Even though this work was not fulfilling, it gave Brian the best experience possible to switch sides and represent injured clients. Contact Brian today to discuss your case.
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