Compensation for Diminished Value Following a Florida Auto Accident
September 18, 2018
You finally broke down and bought the car of your dreams but the other driver failed to stop in time. Although you have always known how important car insurance coverage can be, there are situations where traditional auto insurance may not be enough to cover your real losses. For example, if you were struck by another vehicle while driving your brand new sports car, it could result in losing tens of thousands of dollars off the resale value. Even if the repairs are flawless, your brand new vehicle now has an accident history.
Fortunately, Florida law allows drivers to seek damages to recover the difference between a car's pre-crash value and the vehicle's value following repairs. This is referred to as a "diminished value claim". However, fault does matter in Florida and you can only seek compensation for diminished value from the at-fault driver's insurance company. If you were determined to be the cause of the accident, you cannot pursue a diminished value claim against your own auto policy. Additionally, all claims must be filed within the established time limit of four-years from the date of the incident.
Assuming you were not at fault, you will need to gather important pieces of evidence to fight the insurance company's denial of your right to a full recovery by low-balling the amount of your lost equity. At this point, there are two rather unique ways to pursue compensation. First, if the repairs failed to make you whole, you will need to prove how the car's performance was impacted, such as aesthetic differences or repairs that didn't restore the vehicle to exact pre-crash conditions. If the repairs were excellent, a diminished value claim can be pursued based on how the damage history affects the vehicle's depreciation.
This approach requires an accurate appraisal of your car's value both before and after the accident. To make a final determination of the "post-crash" market value and how the damage affected depreciation, you may need to hire an expert appraiser. Provided the vehicle had no previous repairs, a dealership may be able to provide a pre-crash appraisal from service records as well as furnish a letter showing the trade-in value of the vehicle after the auto repair process. If you or a loved one were involved in an accident that resulted in the diminished value of your car or truck, contact a personal injury attorney at Schackow & Mercadante for a free consultation to discuss the details of your lost equity.
NOTE: Information provided in this two-part series about Florida auto accidents should not be taken as legal advice or used in lieu of seeking a professional opinion about your specific liability claim.