In this segment of Do I Need a Lawyer, Savannah injury lawyer Gary Martin Hays talks the ins and outs of Diminished Value claims for Georgia drivers.
Welcome back to "Do I Need A Lawyer?"
Let's go to the next question from one of our viewers:
"Hi Gary. I bought a new car about 6 months ago. Last weekend, I was hit by someone that ran a stop sign. I'm ok, but it's going to cost a little over $3,000.00 to repair my car. The insurance company is paying for the repairs. But I know my car has lost value because of the wreck and repairs. What can I do? Do I Need A Lawyer?"
I am so glad you asked this question.
I'm about to expose one of the best kept secrets in the insurance industry - a secret that is saving insurance companies literally hundreds of millions of dollars each year right here in Georgia.
And this money should be paid to Georgia's consumers.
But like most things, if the person doesn't know they are entitled to receive this money, the insurance company is not going to knock on their door and voluntarily hand it to them.
What is this secret?
It's called a "diminished value claim."
Let me explain what that means.
If you are involved in a car wreck, your car will suffer property damage.
When you get your car repaired, you know it will be worth less than it was before the wreck.
Think of it this way.
You walk onto a used car lot and you see two identical cars parked side by side.
One has never been wrecked, and one has been wrecked and repaired.
Most people would never buy the car that has been repaired.
You don't want to buy someone else's problem.
And if you would even consider buying the car that has been wrecked, you would want a substantial discount.
Diminished value is what the market says your vehicle lost in value because of the wreck and repairs.
How do you calculate diminished value?
The only way to do it is by hiring an appraiser to do a market survey for your car.
And this is where the insurance companies are misleading consumers.
A lot of insurance companies use a formula they created to calculate diminished value.
They make it sound like it is a fair and reasonable method but it is not.
Let me give you an example of how the insurance companies are not being fair.
One insurance company sent my client a check for $496.00 telling him they calculated diminished value using a formula.
We hired an independent appraiser. His market survey showed the vehicle lost $2,235.00 in diminished value.
The insurance company was trying to cheat my client out of over $1,700.
This isn't right.
And they get away with this every day here in Georgia.
It's time we stop them.
Let's do the math here to show you just how much insurance companies are pocketing each year.
On average, there are approximately 350,000 car wrecks in Georgia each year.
Some of the cars in those wrecks will be total losses so they will not be repaired.
So let's assume only 150,000 are repaired.
If the insurance company is holding on to a minimum of $1,000 on each of those claims
that they would ordinarily have to pay out, they are taking $150 million out of the pockets of Georgia's consumers.
One other thing about diminished value claims:
You can still have a claim for diminished value - even if you are at fault for causing the wreck!
I am sick and tired of insurance companies ripping off consumers here in Georgia.
I have an entire chapter dedicated to diminished value in my #1 best selling book, The Authority on Personal Injury Claims in Georgia.