If You Have Been in a Car Accident, Your Vehicle Has Diminished Value
Georgia is one of only a handful of states that recognize the right to recover the diminished value of your vehicle after you have been in a car accident, even from your own automobile insurance provider. Diminished value is the loss of value your vehicle suffers even if it is returned to pre-accident condition. It will never be worth the same amount as it was before the accident occurred, and the state understands that.
The diminished value property damage law was put into effect in 1926 and obligates insurance companies to pay you the lost value of your car after an accident. This law is one that insurers often do not like to follow, but an experienced Georgia diminished value property damage accident claims attorney can help insure that you get the value for your vehicle that you deserve.
Steps to Take to Get the Diminished Value of Your Car
The first thing you need to do is gather all the facts about your accident that you can. This should include your repair bills, photos of your vehicle before and after repairs, the mileage of your vehicle before the accident, and the police report.
Do not agree to a call that is being recorded by your insurance company without talking to an attorney first. We will want you to tell the truth to your insurance company but will insure that you are protected and give you adequate legal representation before the conversation takes place.
Never agree to a settlement before discussing your claim with your attorney. What most people do not realize is that if you cash a settlement check, you will never be able to file a diminished value claim for that vehicle and accident.
Diminished Value Claims and Insurance Companies
A reasonable consumer will never pay the same price for a vehicle that has been in an accident and repaired as he or she would for a vehicle that has no accident history. Even if the vehicle has exceptional repairs, it will still lose value. The following laws govern what insurance companies in Georgia are able to do with diminished value claims:
- The insurance company must pay the diminished value.
- Your insurance premium may not increase because of the payout of the diminished value.
- Your insurance company cannot cancel your policy due to the diminished value claim.
- You may file a diminished value claim against your insurer regardless of whether you were liable for the accident or not.
Remember that the initial offer that your insurance company makes will likely be low, which is why you need a report from an experienced, honest auto appraiser. Unfortunately, not all vehicle appraisers are the same, which is another reason you need to speak to an attorney before accepting the value your insurance company places on your vehicle.
Should I file a diminished value claim?
If you have been in a car accident, your car has diminished value. The state recognizes this, and you are protected under these Georgia laws. However, it is not a surprise that many car insurance companies will dispute whether your car has diminished value. Keep in mind that no matter how much you like your insurance agent, they are working for a multi-billion dollar corporation that has a financial obligation to the company and not to you. Some reasons that your insurance company will not cover diminished value include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The car is too old, typically 10 years old or more, and does not have much value.
- The car has already had a previous accident that resulted in extensive repairs.
- The car has high mileage.
- The car was a complete loss.
If your insurance agent is trying to say that your vehicle does not have diminished value after an accident, do not try to fight the insurance company on your own. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
How do I file a diminished value claim in Georgia?
If you think the value of the claim is less than $15,000, you can likely file a claim against your insurance company in small claims court. However, we strongly recommend that you at least consult with a diminished value property damage claim attorney before you do. Remember that an insurance company will have in-house attorneys who will fight for them and ensure their protection. If you do not have legal representation, you will be seriously outmatched.
Another thing to keep in mind when considering a diminished value claim is the statute of limitations for filing such a claim. The statute of limitations is a time limit for filing the claim and in most cases is two years from the date of the accident. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, which means it is important to seek legal counsel sooner than later. Failure to meet the statute of limitations deadline could result in your complete loss of ability to ever file such a claim for that accident.
Who is responsible for a claim for diminished value?
The party responsible for the diminished value vehicle property claim is the person who was responsible for causing the accident itself. This means that if someone else was the cause of the accident, he or she will be responsible for the claim, and not the insurance carrier. If you were the one responsible for the accident, your insurance carrier will be obligated to pay for the diminished value of your vehicle, and they are not allowed to drop your insurance coverage or increase your insurance rates due to the diminished value claim.
How can our attorneys help?
At Jonathan R. Brockman, P.C., we are committed to ensuring that our clients get the full value of their vehicles after being involved in a car accident. We know the loopholes that insurance companies like to use to get out of paying claims, and we will work to ensure they are not successful in their fight. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Your diminished value auto property damage claim is important to us.