Handling Diminished Value Claims And Property Damage Claims And Other FAQs

At The Goldman Firm in Atlanta, Georgia, we help clients with property damage issues after an accident when we are representing them for an injury claim. If you've been involved in an accident, even if there were no injuries sustained, you will likely need to file a property damage claim for your car. We can help you understand your options, guide you through the process, and represent you in any related personal injury claim. In most cases, you can handle a property damage claim on your own and the information below can help you navigate the process.

If your car has been damaged in an accident, and you have questions after reviewing the information provided below, call us at 404-857-3505 for a free initial consultation with a car accident and property damage lawyer in Atlanta.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Property Damage

What do I need to do to get my vehicle repaired?

If your vehicle is drivable, then you should contact the insurance company (do not give a recorded statement). The insurance company may want you to take the vehicle to a shop for an appraisal. This is fine but you will want to take the appraisal to your own shop or mechanic for repairs because you want the body shop to work for you; not the insurance company. If your shop finds other damages, they will work with the insurance company to determine the amount to be paid for repair. You do not need to worry about the appraisal being less than you thought because the insurance company and the shop will work it out.

The other driver's insurance company is denying liability and I know the other driver is at fault. What do I do?

Many insurance companies are taking the position that you are at least partially at fault for the wreck and will only offer a percentage of the cost of repairs (or the amount of a total loss). Obviously, they do this to save money. If you have collision coverage on your vehicle, go ahead and let them fix your car. Then your insurance company will pursue the other insurance company for repayment (subrogation). If they are successful, they will reimburse you for your deductible. If you don't have collision coverage, you can file suit against the other driver in Magistrate Court in the county where the other driver lives. If you can prove that the insurance company's position is unreasonable, you can bring a claim for bad faith and other penalties pursuant to Georgia law. See O.C.G.A. sections 33-4-6 and 33-4-7.

What about a rental car?

You are entitled to a rental car if your car is repairable. Most insurance companies will allow the rental companies to bill them directly (usually with Enterprise). However, some of the smaller companies will only reimburse you once you pay for your rental car and that is within the law. But make sure you approve the rental rate with them first. You can get a comparable vehicle to the one that you had. For example, if you have a truck, you will not have to rent a subcompact vehicle. If your car is repairable and drivable, you should not get a rental car until repairs are approved and the car is in the shop. Be sure to wait until the shop has the parts necessary and is ready to begin working on your vehicle.

Isn't my car worth less after it's been repaired?

Any car or truck involved in a wreck is worth less because it has been in a wreck, even if it is properly repaired. You are entitled to the difference between the value before the wreck and the value after the wreck. This is called a diminished value claim. Once your car is repaired, send the insurance company a copy of the final repair receipt and ask them to make you an offer. Expect that the insurance company will low-ball you on the first offer. Try to obtain evidence of the amount of diminished value from a car dealer and use that to negotiate with the adjuster.

The insurance company totaled my car! Do I have to accept that?

A vehicle is deemed a total loss generally when the cost of repairs approaches 75 percent of the vehicle's value. Unfortunately, you cannot make an insurance company pay for repairs once the cost approaches that amount. You can "buy back" the vehicle from the insurance company for the amount they would sell it for salvage. However, the insurance company must then report the car to the State of Georgia as being totaled. You will have to have the vehicle repaired so that it will pass inspection and then apply for a salvage title. It is usually better to accept the forced sale of your car.

How much do they have to pay if my car or truck is totaled?

If your vehicle is totaled, then you are owed the market value of the vehicle, taking into consideration the options, mileage and pre-wreck condition of the vehicle. If you are unhappy with the amount that the insurance company is offering for your car, it is negotiable. Do your own market research to provide evidence of the value of your car. You may want to look at websites, such as AJC.com, Autotrader.com or the Kelly Blue Book website, and advertisements for vehicles comparable to your own. They must also provide you with a rental car for a reasonable time (usually until they make you an offer or a brief time thereafter).

Why can't I find an attorney to take my property damage case if I'm not injured?

We know this is frustrating. The reason of course is that it doesn't make sense to pay an attorney to do this work for you when you really can handle this on your own. You don't want to pay an attorney and hourly fee because you will need every penny to pay for your repairs or to replace your vehicle. Follow the advice on this page to stand up for yourself with the insurance companies.

What if the insurance company is being unreasonable?

Don't roll over. Insurance companies always try to pay as little as they can get away with. If you are sure you are correct, and the insurance company won't come around, take them to court. Yes, you CAN do this yourself! Go to the Magistrate Court in the county where that at-fault driver lives. There are simple forms to fill out to initiate the lawsuit and the normal court rules are relaxed so that non-attorneys will feel right at home. Remember, the suit must be filed against the at-fault driver, not the insurance company.

Contact Us Today To Talk To A Car Accident Lawyer In Georgia

If your vehicle has sustained damage in a car accident or other motor vehicle crash, we can assist you. Use our online contact form or call us at 404-857-3505 today to schedule your free initial consultation.