If you are involved in a traffic collision, and if you file a property damage claim to have your vehicle repaired, you may be leaving money on the table. This is a where an Atlanta car accident law firm can help.
In the state of Georgia, if your vehicle is damaged after a collision and you have the vehicle repaired – that is, the vehicle was not a total loss – you have the right to a property damage claim for repairs, but you also have the right to a “diminished value” claim.
How Do Diminished Value Claims Work?
Diminished value is a second damage claim that you have if your vehicle is repaired after an accident. If your vehicle is a total loss, you will not have a diminished value claim, but you will instead have a claim for the market value of your vehicle at the time of the collision.
On the other hand, if you have the vehicle repaired, you have a right to make two claims:
- a claim for the repair of the vehicle, which should completely cover your repair expenses
- a claim called “diminished value”
How is Diminished Value Defined and Determined?
Here’s what diminished value is. Think of CARFAX, which maintains a comprehensive vehicle history database using information from every state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. When you sell a vehicle, anyone can find the vehicle on CARFAX to determine if it has been in an accident.
Naturally, even if a vehicle looks and runs great if a potential buyer knows that the vehicle has been in an accident, you will be offered less than you would be offered for the same vehicle if it had never been in a collision.
In other words, a collision automatically diminishes the value of a car, truck, or SUV. It doesn’t even matter if the repairs make a vehicle better than new – simply being in an accident reduces its worth.
Every driver in the state of Georgia should know about the right to make a diminished value claim. Every year, thousands of people in our state simply leave money on the table. It’s the equivalent of handing over your cash to an auto insurance company for no good reason.
What Does the Law Say About Diminished Value Claims?
Some automobile insurance companies in Georgia may tell you that diminished value is set by law at ten percent of the cost of the repairs. That simply is not what the law says. It is merely what some insurance companies tell some consumers because it’s the easy thing to do.
In fact, what you have is a right to the market value difference between a vehicle like yours that has never been in a wreck and your own vehicle after it has been in a wreck. Sometimes, the real diminished value of a vehicle after an accident can be a thousand dollars or even more.
Diminished value, however, can be difficult to determine fairly and accurately, so you may have to hire a diminished value expert. Google “diminished value,” and you will find plenty of diminished value experts here in Georgia.
When Should You Hire a Diminished Value Expert?
If an auto insurance company offers you only one or two hundred dollars for diminished value, but you believe that your diminished value claim may be worth far more, you will have to decide if hiring a diminished value expert is worth it in your own case.
At a minimum, you should negotiate an insurance company’s first offer for diminished value.
Do not accept the first offer – it will almost always be an offer that is far less than the actual worth of your diminished value claim – and do not let them tell you that ten percent of the repair cost is all that the insurance company is required to pay you for diminished value. It isn’t.
If a Negligent Driver Damages Your Vehicle, What Should You Do?
When an at-fault driver damages your vehicle in an accident, that driver’s insurance company should pay you for the full amount of your vehicle’s diminished value. That’s the law, but it is up to you to make the claim, negotiate, and in some cases, hire a diminished value expert.
There is utterly no reason for you, in effect, to give an insurance company money that is yours.
In most cases, you should be able to file and negotiate property damage and diminished value claims on your own. Vehicles can always be replaced. You can’t.
What if You Are Injured by a Negligent Driver?
If you are injured by a negligent driver in Georgia, take your case at once to an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney. Because your health and your future are so much more important than any car or truck, you will need to let an attorney handle a personal injury claim.
Injured victims of negligence in this state are entitled to full compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, personal pain and suffering, and all related losses and damages – as well as property damages and diminished value.
If you are injured by a negligent driver in Georgia, and if your health and your future may be at stake, you will absolutely require the representation and sound legal advice that an experienced injury lawyer will provide.
What Does It Cost to Learn More?
Georgia’s accident attorneys offer a free, no-obligation first legal consultation to the injured victims of negligence, so it will not cost you a thing to learn more.
An Atlanta personal injury attorney will offer you trustworthy legal advice and will fully explain your legal rights and options. If you have a personal injury claim, and if you choose to move forward with it, your attorney will fight aggressively for the compensation you need.
If a negligent driver has injured you, has damaged your vehicle, or both, you are entitled by law in the state of Georgia to full compensation. That is your right. An attorney’s help is also your right. There is no reason for you to leave money on the table.