Q: Why should I worry about diminished value if my car has been properly repaired? Can’t I just trade it in for a new vehicle without disclosing the accident and get full trade in value?
A: Regardless of any moral issues regarding nondisclosure, current technologies really make it easy for a car dealership and other consumers to discovering accidents and repairs. A potential buyer can simply run a CarFax search of the car’s VIN number to make such a discovery. In fact, most dealership present potential buyers with such a report. As a result, you very likely will receive less for the vehicle.
Q: Can I recover for diminished value if I was the at-fault party in the accident?
A: No, Florida law only allows for recovery of diminished value if you are not at fault.
Q: What if the at-fault party does not have insurance?
A: If the at-fault party does not have car insurance, you may be able to recover under your uninsured motorist coverage.
Q: Do I have to trade in or sell my car to prove diminished value.
A: No, you can seek recovery for diminished value without selling your car. Your loss is at the time of the accident, when the value of your car is diminished.
Q: Do I have to wait until I recover for diminished value to sell or trade my car if the car still doesn’t feel as safe after repair?
A: No, but it is better to wait, at least until all appraisals are completed. This includes an appraisal by the insurance company, if requested.
Q: How is the amount of diminished value determined?
A: The amount of diminished value depends on the pre-accident value of your vehicle, based on the year, make, model and mileage of the car, amount of damage incurred, for example, whether there was frame damage, and how well the car could be repaired. Of course, if the insurance company is doing the valuation, the valuation will likely vary greatly from that of an independent appraiser.
Q: Do I really need a lawyer to collect for diminished value?
A: Can you collect for diminished value without retaining an attorney? Yes. If you try to do it yourself, however, you spend a lot of time, much of it in frustration, and will very likely settle for less than you would have recovered if you had hired an experienced attorney.
Q: How do the attorneys get paid?
A: The attorneys are only paid if you recover. In that case, a percentage of the recovery is paid to compensate them for their efforts.
Q: There are online appraisal companies that claim to handle diminished value claims. Why not just use one of those?
A: Because appraisers are not licensed to practice law, they cannot represent you in court. Insurance companies know this. When you are represented by an attorney, there is always the threat of ending up in court. This is a great incentive to fairly settle.