What is a Diminished Value Claim?
If your car was wrecked and repaired, but you didn’t consider what it would be worth after it was fixed, you need to understand what a diminished value claim is in the state of Georgia:
“Diminished Value” is the damage or loss that the owner of a motor vehicle incurs when a motor vehicle is damaged in a motor vehicle accident. The damage is the amount of money the vehicle has depreciated or lost due to the known fact that a wrecked and repaired car is worth less than the same, non-wrecked car. Given the choice between two identical cars, would you buy the previously wrecked car for the same price as the non-wrecked one? Probably not as most car reports show if and when a vehicle has been repaired from a major accident. The amount of this depreciation or diminished value is best determined by experts who often consider thirty or more factors, such as the cost of the repairs, the ratio of pre-accident value to the cost of the repairs, frame damage, type of vehicle involved, the age of the vehicle, etc.
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Without an experienced diminished value attorney, some insurance adjusters will often refuse to pay diminished value or offer pennies on the dollar to settle your diminished value claim.
More importantly, it is imperative that you be very careful and cautious when signing any Release from an insurance company. If you sign a General Release, then you usually have waived your claim to any other claims such as personal injury or wrongful death. An insurance adjuster may refer to the release they give you as a property damage release only, but that may not be true. The controlling language will be found in the release itself.
What are the penalties if the insurance company refuses to pay my diminished value?
Under Georgia law, you or your attorney can make a 60-day demand on the insurance company to pay the full value of your diminished value claim pursuant to OCGA 33-4-7. If the insurance company’s refusal to pay the claim is in bad faith you will be entitled to recover an additional $5,000 penalty or 50% of your claim, whichever is greater, as well as all reasonable attorney’s fees.