The good news following an accident is that you can generally get the at-fault driver to pay for repairs to your car. Many vehicles are scratched, dinged, stoved up, and crumpled following a crash, and repairs could cost tens of thousands of dollars. Georgia motorists must carry property damage insurance when they register their vehicles, with a minimum policy of at least $25,000.
However, there is a downside to getting in an accident. Even with the best repair work, cars that are involved in accidents are generally less valuable. This diminished value can be a real problem depending on the circumstances of your accident. Fortunately, you can bring a diminished value claim, and our Rockdale County car accident lawyers provide the details.
Understanding Diminished Value
Imagine that your car is worth $15,000 when it is involved in a crash. A body shop tells you that you need $7,500 to put the car back to the condition it was in just prior to the accident.
You might think that your car is still worth $15,000 once it is repaired, right? After all, it has had all necessary repairs and is now just like it was when you got T-boned in an intersection by a speeding driver.
Unfortunately, cars involved in accidents diminish in value—even after repairs. There are many tools for potential buyers to research a car’s history, and they will find that your car was involved in an accident. For this reason, some buyers might offer you less than you otherwise could get. This reduction in value is the “diminished value” of the vehicle.
For some vehicles—such as luxury cars or antiques—the reduction in value can be considerable. Many cars decline $10,000 or more because of a collision somewhere in their history.
Identifying Causes of Diminished Value
As mentioned above, consumer expectations contribute to diminished value. Buyers generally perceive that a car is less valuable when it has been involved in a crash. This stigma follows the car around regardless of the quality of repairs and can represent a serious loss of value when you choose to sell or trade in your vehicle.
However, there are some other reasons your car might have depreciated in value. For example, you might have had shoddy repair work done following a crash. A body shop might have used recycled parts or used Bondo instead of welding pieces of metal back together. Because the work was so shoddy, your car’s value could have fallen even more than it would have had the shop done top-shelf work.
Bringing a Diminished Value Claim in Georgia
Under Georgia law, an insurer must pay compensation for diminished value—but there are exceptions. As our Conyers accidents lawyers understand, getting this type of claim paid is difficult.
First, you need to ask the insurer to pay for it. Don’t expect them to volunteer to compensate you for diminished value. When you look over a settlement for the cost of repairs, ask if diminished value has been included.
Second, only cars with substantial market value are eligible. Currently, a vehicle must be worth over $7,000. If your car is worth less than this, you cannot make a diminished value claim. Sometimes, disputes break out over the value of the vehicle, so make sure you have some documentation of how much it is reasonably worth.
Third, the damage must be at least $500. Minor damage is not eligible for a diminished value claim. However, most damage requires at least $500 nowadays.
Lastly, you must satisfy these other requirements:
- The car cannot have excessive mileage
- The car cannot be more than 10 years old
- The title must be clean
As you can see, Georgia law restricts this type of claim to situations where there has been a meaningful loss in value for cars that aren’t too old. If you believe you qualify, raise this claim with the insurance company.
Georgia also gives car owners a limited amount of time to bring a claim. Currently, you have four years to do so. We recommend meeting with an Atlanta car accident attorney promptly.
Fighting a Denial of a Diminished Value Claim
Some insurers resist shelling out more money after paying for repairs. They might unfairly deny your diminished value request, or they could make a bad faith claim that your car’s damage is too minor or the car is too old. Unfortunately, some car owners must struggle to get the money they are owed.
Refusal to pay a diminished value claim can sometimes qualify as insurance bad faith. Georgia regulates the insurance industry pretty tightly, and the laws give insureds the ability to sue when an insurer has denied a claim unfairly. Contact one of our Porterdale car accident attorneys to review.
Making a Claim While at Fault for the Accident
As we repeatedly tell motorists, fault matters in most car accidents. For example, you can only get another motorist to pay compensation to cover your medical bills if you were not mostly at fault for the accident. If you were tailgating and crashed into the car in front, then you’ll need to pay your medical bills on your own.
However, fault doesn’t play a role when it comes to a diminished value claim. You can make this claim even if you were 100% to blame for the collision. This provides some measure of comfort for motorists who see the value of their car decline following a wreck.
Do You Need Help Following a Car Accident?
MG Law has assisted many motorists obtain compensation, including for the cost of repairs. We can also help you make a diminished value claim or fight an insurer denial on the grounds that it was made in bad faith.
We encourage you to meet with a Covington car accident attorney before trying to negotiate a settlement on your own. Too many motorists accidentally give up their right to a diminished value claim by signing a waiver, so review all offers of settlement with a member of our team. Often, a diminished value claim can be included with a claim for personal injuries and other losses.
We proudly serve Georgia residents, including Newton County.