If you were involved in a car accident you will have two separate claims. Your first claim will be a for property damage caused to your vehicle. Second, you will have a personal injury lawsuit for any bodily or mental damage you suffered. These are two distinct and different elements of your claim. We are only going to discuss loss of value in this claim and how to make sure you get top dollar.
After a Car Accident
After a car accident insurance companies will call you for two things, first to get a statement and second to get you to their preferred body shop. These are both tricks used by insurance companies to limit liability. With regards to making a statement, DON’T. In fact never make a statement, unless it is to your own insurance company. What is a statement? Anything. Say nothing at all regarding the accident. You should only say the following sentence, “I am currently being represented by counsel, and they will contact you at the appropriate time”, then hang up. I know this may sound rude, but trust me it is for the best.
Second, never take your car to the “preferred” body shop. Why? Because this body shop is on the side of the insurance company. Although, this won’t change the quality of the repair, it will make a difference when considered loss of value. The industry term for this is “diminished value”. Body shops on the preferred list wont factor diminished value, but a 3rd party shop will. Additionally, the preferred body shop will write a lower estimate cost. This is relevant if you were actually injured. Insurance companies will look at property damage as a indicator of bodily injury. They will essentially attempt to correlate these two factors. There is really no basis for this claim. If you have ever had a low impact injury, you know that you can still be injured.
Diminished Value of Your Vehicle
Back to diminished value. Diminished value is the loss in value after the auto accident. Its common sense, no one will pay you blue book value for a vehicle involved in a car accident and yes you must tell them it was involved in a accident. Today with reporting services like Carfax it is relatively easy to search title on a vehicle. You will be able to tell whether or not it was involved in a accident. Diminished value considers this loss in value. Something insurance companies will never offer you.
Calculating Diminished Value of an Automobile after a Traffic Accident:
So how do you calculate diminished value? You can do so by estimating loss or going to a 3rd party and asking them what they are willing to offer you considering it was in a accident. Take the car to 3 places in order to get a good average. Deduct that average from the actual value assigned by insurance companies and go for the difference. Example, your 2000 Ford is worth 10K after an accident its worth 4K, the difference 6K is considered diminished value. Each case is a little different and there are no guarantees, but at least try and collect it. A good personal injury lawyer (Downtown L.A. Law Group) will be able to get you diminished value.
Note: Remember the next time you take your car in for repairs after a car accident that you may be entitled to more than what the insurance company is offering.