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Pursuing a Diminished Value Claim on Your Own

After a car accident, your vehicle likely lost value. This is known as diminished value.

Many repairs cannot fully restore your vehicle to its pre-accident condition. Even if your vehicle was properly repaired, it is unlikely your vehicle has retained all its value. When you go to sell your car, your vehicle will have an accident history. Because of this, buyers will offer less for your car.

Collision Claim

Who Can I Sue for Diminished Value?

You can sue the driver who was at-fault for diminished value. You also may sue other responsible parties. For example, the owner of the vehicle that hit you or the employer of the driver, if the driver was working at the time of the accident.

In Florida, you cannot sue your own insurance company for diminished value absent special circumstances.

What Damages Can I Sue for in a Diminished Value Case?

If you are successful, the Court can also reward you court costs and interest.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Diminished Value Case?

With any legal case, it should be easier to have an experienced lawyer than to pursue a lawsuit by yourself. However, if you do not have an injury claim against the at-fault driver, it may be hard to find a lawyer who will represent you only for diminished value.

Our law firm will pursue diminished value claims for clients who want to add that claim to their personal injury claim. In some instances, our law firm will represent people who only have a diminished value claim. However, on most occasions it does not make financial sense (for you or the law firm) to hire a lawyer to pursue only a diminished value claim against an at-fault party.

That does not mean you are without hope. You likely can bring a claim yourself in your local county court – either the county where the at-fault driver lives or the county where the car accident occurred.

Florida Jury Instructions for Property Damage Claim

Florida’s Standard Jury Instructions are a good place to start to illustrate what you are entitled to in a third-party claim. If your case was to go to trial, this is the instruction the judge would give the jury.

Florida Standard Jury Instruction 501.2(a) and (h) state:

(a) You should award the claimant an amount of money that the greater weight of the evidence shows will fairly and adequately compensate [her] for [her] loss, including any damage (claimant) is reasonably certain to incur in the future. You shall consider the following elements:

(h) Any damage to [her] (identify automobile or other personal property). The measure of such damage is:
[the difference between the value of the (name property) immediately before (incident complained of) and its value immediately afterward.]
[the reasonable cost of repair, if it was practicable to repair the (name property), with due allowance for any difference between its value immediately before the (incident complained of) and its value after repair.]

You shall also take into consideration any loss to (claimant) [for towing or storage charges and] by being deprived of the use of [her] (name property) during the period reasonably required for its [repair].

[the difference between the value of the (name property) immediately before (incident complained of) and its value immediately afterward.]
[the reasonable cost of repair, if it was practicable to repair the (name property), with due allowance for any difference between its value immediately before the (incident complained of) and its value after repair.]

You shall also take into consideration any loss to (claimant) [for towing or storage charges and] by being deprived of the use of [her] (name property) during the period reasonably required for its [repair].

Link to Florida Standard Jury Instructions:

https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/content/download/243071/file/entire-Document.pdf

Loss of Use Damages

The jury instruction also includes a note that loss of use damages and prejudgment interest can also be claimed. Loss of use means the damages you suffered because you could not use your vehicle. For example, during the time it was repaired or while you were waiting on the driver’s insurance company to respond to you.

A good estimate of loss of use damages is the value of a rental car during the time you did not have use of your car. If you actually incurred rental car fees, you could submit your receipts to the Court as evidence of your loss of use damages.

Do I Need to Hire An Appraiser for My Diminished Value Claim?

Probably. You may be able to resolve your diminished value claim without an expert appraiser. But how will you know you are getting a fair offer without an expert looking at it? Also, if your lawsuit gets far enough, you will likely need an appraiser to testify in Court. Most people are not qualified to give an opinion in Court on how much value their vehicle lost after an accident.

Here are a few of the expert appraisers our law firm recommends:

This article is not exhaustive on pursuing a diminished value claim yourself but is a good place to start.

We Offer a Free Consultation

If you’re considering pursuing diminished value claim, feel free to call us. We may be able to represent you. Even if we cannot represent you, we would be happy to point you in the right direction.

Free Diminished Value Consultation: (407) 848-5800

Lisa Suarez
Lisa Suarez
20:56 16 Jul 21
Andrew and Emmanuel were amazing. We were getting the bare minimum offered by the insurance company for property damage and depreciation. The collision repair shop recommended Irvin & Irvin and we couldn’t be happier. They kept us informed on the case, aligned on our objectives, provided counsel at pivotal points in the process, and reached a fair settlement. I would recommend them above all others. Thank you, Andrew and team.
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