Car accidents can result in catastrophic damage to your vehicle that results in a loss of value that you won’t be able to recover, even if your car is fully repaired. Simply being in an accident and having a collision history causes a vehicle’s value to drop significantly, regardless of whether or not you can see any damage to the vehicle’s exterior.
Here’s how to file a claim for the diminished value of your vehicle after an accident and how an experienced car accident lawyer in Massachusetts or New Hampshire can help you obtain the full and fair compensation you deserve after a devastating motor vehicle crash.
File a Police Report After the Accident
Contact authorities immediately after the accident. If you or someone else were injured or need medical attention, call 911. If you can move your vehicle off the road, you should do so while you wait for help to arrive.
Filing an IDV claim will be much easier if you have a police record of the incident, especially if the officer was able to arrive on scene and assess the damage to your vehicle themselves. If you did not contact law enforcement after your accident, you should go to your local police station to voluntarily file a report. Police reports typically take several weeks to complete and get a copy, so it’s important to do this as soon as possible after the collision.
Take your vehicle to a mechanic and/or a body shop to have them estimate the total cost of repairs to bring your vehicle to pre-accident condition. They should be able to provide you with an itemized list of the parts and labor needed to restore your vehicle that can then be sent to your insurance company.
Your insurer may also have repairs estimated by their own mechanics or other auto specialists, however, this figure is likely to be much lower than the actual cost of repairs needed to fully restore your car or truck.
Contact the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company
Next, you should reach out to the at-fault party’s insurer. If you are the at-fault party, you will likely not be able to file a claim for inherent diminished value. If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, you may need to file a claim with your own insurance provider. Bear in mind that working with the insurance company of another driver may be particularly difficult, especially if you do not have legal representation.
Calculate Diminished Value
In most cases, insurance companies use a specific formula to calculate the inherent diminished value of a vehicle after a car accident. This includes the original loss of value in the vehicle less damage and mileage. It’s important to calculate the diminished value of your car after a collision independently of the figure the at fault party’s insurance company will provide.
You can compare your calculation the insurance company’s to determine if there are any errors or misrepresentations that would result in a lower settlement offer. Be sure to ask the insurance provider to inform you of what formula was used to calculate diminished value on their end and how they arrived at the final figure.
Submit a Claim
Next, submit a claim with the at-fault insurer. It’s a good idea to remember your rights at this stage; you are not obligated to give any and all information to the insurance carrier in order to file a claim. You do, however, need to provide evidence that your vehicle was damaged, how much it will cost to repair, and the resulting diminished value. If you have an attorney on board, they will submit the claim and speak directly with the insurance company on your behalf. This scenario is ideal since it takes some of the pressure off of you.
Negotiate With the Insurance Company
More often than not, the first settlement offer you receive from the at-fault party’s insurance company will be much lower than what is appropriate for the necessary repairs to restore your vehicle. You should provide them with the repair estimates that you obtained and attempt to negotiate a higher settlement.
This process may go back and forth several times before you and the insurance company reach an agreement on a settlement amount. You may not be able to come to a consensus. If this happens, you and the insurer will proceed to litigation where a judge will make the final decision.
Reach Out to a Car Accident Lawyer for Help
The most important thing you can do following a motor vehicle collision is to contact a veteran car accident attorney for guidance. Filing a claim for inherent diminished value or any other damages resulting from an accident that wasn’t your fault can be a harrowing experience, especially if you’re not accustomed to dealing with unscrupulous insurers who may be acting in bad faith.
Working with a lawyer can help increase the chances of a favorable outcome; it’s much more difficult for insurers to “pull one over” on policyholders with legal representation.
Contact the Experienced IDV Attorneys at Mazow | McCullough, PC Today
If you’ve been involved in a car accident and lost value in your vehicle that you cannot get back, you may be eligible to file an insurance claim for inherent diminished value. The attorneys at Mazow | McCullough, PC have the experience and skill to provide you with comprehensive legal representation after an accident, regardless of what damages you suffered.
Call today for a consultation to discuss the specifics of your case or to schedule a time to come into our office by dialing (978) 744-8000 or toll free at (855) 693-9084.