You can make a diminished value claim in SC after an auto accident, although the insurance company may attempt to deny the claim or refuse to pay the full value.
After an auto accident in SC, the at-fault driver is responsible for the damages that they caused, including your medical bills, future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any diminished value to your property that was caused by the accident.
If your car is worth less after repairs have been made, isn’t the other driver responsible for that loss as well? The goal of personal injury law is to make the injured party whole again, and, if your $30,000 car is now worth $25,000 because of the damage caused by the accident, you have not been made whole again…
You may not need a personal injury lawyer to handle your property damage claims, but if you aren’t sure or if you or your passengers were also injured in a Myrtle Beach auto accident, call or email your SC auto accident attorney on the Axelrod team now to set up a free consultation.
What is a Diminished Value Claim in SC?
Diminished value is a form of property damage. When you are in an auto accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for the property damage that they caused as well as any personal injury claims you may have.
For example, when your car is damaged in an accident, the at-fault driver is responsible for all necessary repairs to your car.
On the other hand, if your vehicle is totaled in the wreck, you are entitled to recover the full and fair market value of the vehicle.
If you were unable to use your vehicle after the wreck while it was being repaired or while you waited for the insurance company to pay your claims, you may be entitled to compensation for loss of use of your vehicle – which may include the cost to rent a car while you wait.
You are also entitled to your vehicle’s deprecation in value, called a diminished value claim in SC. If your car is repaired and returned to you, but it has lost value because of the accident, the other driver (or their insurance company) must also compensate you for the depreciation in your vehicle’s resale value.
How is Diminished Value in SC Calculated?
Your car’s value may be diminished solely because it was in an accident, even if the damage is no longer visible.
When a car buyer sees the accident on a Carfax report, they will almost certainly want to pay less for the car regardless of its current condition. Your car’s value may also be diminished because of shoddy repairs that left problems with the vehicle’s appearance or operation.
Factors that may be considered in determining the diminished value of your car might include:
- The type and extent of damage to the vehicle;
- The cost and quality of the repairs;
- The age and mileage of the vehicle;
- The make and model of your car;
- The car’s previous accident history (if there have been accidents before, its value was already reduced before the current accident); and
- The current and future market for used car sales in your area.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Diminished Value Claim in SC?
Most property damage claims are handled directly between the accident victim and the insurance company – the good news is that insurance companies will often pay the property damage claim quickly, although they may fight and attempt to deny or reduce your personal injury claims.
Although most insurance companies will assign a separate adjuster for property damage and personal injury claims, you should take care not to discuss your injuries with the insurance company. If you were also injured in the accident, contact a SC personal injury lawyer immediately to make sure that your rights are protected.
What if the Insurance Company Won’t Pay my Diminished Value Claim in SC?
If the insurance company refuses to pay your diminished value claim in SC, you can file an action in the civil court for property damage arbitration and ask an arbitrator to force them to pay the diminished value of your car.
How to File for Property Damage Arbitration in SC
To request property damage arbitration, you must begin by filing this form with the clerk of court in your county (or the county where the wreck happened). The SC Department of Insurance has also provided a brochure that gives some additional information on the process.
How do I Prove a Diminished Value Claim in SC?
You will need to prove your car’s value both 1) before the accident and 2) after the accident.
You can retain a diminished value expert who can do an appraisal of your vehicle’s value and present it to the arbitrator, or you could bring your receipts, photos, documents, and other evidence to show the car’s value before and after the accident.
You can also use the Kelley Blue Book website to find the value of your car before the accident, after the accident, and to determine what the depreciation is (subtract the dollar value after the accident from the dollar value before the accident to get the difference).
What if the At-Fault Driver Didn’t Have Insurance?
If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, your insurance policy may compensate you for the diminished value of your car under your uninsured/underinsured policy.
If you were injured in an auto accident in South Carolina, your Myrtle Beach auto accident attorney on the Axelrod team will meet with you, investigate the accident, and determine all damages that the other driver owes to you, which may include the diminished value to your vehicle that was caused by the accident.