Our vehicle (2014 Toyota RAV4) was rear-ended recently while we took the vacation in Georgia (we live in North Carolina). The police report is out, which clearly stated the other driver was at fault and issued her a citation for following us too closely. No one has body injury in this accident but our vehicle is damaged pretty severely. My insurance handles the repair work right now and they will go through the subrogation later. The repair estimate is over $8700 for now (it might go up as the body shop examines everything). I intend to file a diminished value claim to the other party's insurance, Is it worth to find a appraiser in this situation? which state's appraiser I should look for? If I need attorney's help? Which state's attorney is going to help?
Besides the damage to your vehicle and the cost of a reasonable rental vehicle while the vehicle is being repaired, the other party’s insurance company would, if requested by you or an attorney, have to consider what is called a Diminished Value or Diminution of Value Claim.
Basically, Diminished Value is the difference in the fair market value/actual cash value of your vehicle after the repairs have been completed compared to the pre-collision value of your vehicle, or what reduced amount your vehicle is worth on the open market now because of the accident after the repairs. The amount would be based on what a similar vehicle to yours (same year, make, model, mileage, options, and condition) would sell for at this time without the accident having occurred less what the vehicle is worth after the accident despite the repairs. In addition, generally you can only present a diminished value claim against the owner/operator of the other vehicle and/or his or her auto insurance company, not against your own auto insurance company.
You need to have an appraiser do an estimate on what he believes the vehicle would be worth had it not been involved in an accident less the amount it is worth now after the accident and the completed repairs.
You would then send a demand letter to the insurance adjuster with a copy of that estimate and demand that amount in writing. Of course, if you retain any liability at all for the accident, the offer for the Diminished Value will be reduced according to your percentage of negligence. And you must understand that the fee for the appraiser is not going to be reimbursable from the insurance company, so that is a cost you will have to bear and something you should factor into your decision whether or not to proceed with the Diminished Value claim. If an appraiser charges you $300.00 and the amount of the Diminished Value claim is close to that amount or less, it would not make sense to present a claim for that as you would either not make enough to justify the expense or you would be losing money.
I doubt whether it would be cost effective for you to retain an attorney, as you would have to pay him or her an hourly fee (somewhere between $150.00 and $350.00 per hour most probably).
Also, this option is only available if your vehicle is repairable. If your vehicle is not repairable, you would be offered the "actual cash value" or "fair market value" of your vehicle.
I agree with the previous answer. It will cost you $75 to $ 100 possibly to get an appraisal, can possibly get it from a Toyota dealership for free. It is work spending the money. If your car is less than 5 years old, and the damages are this substantial (looks to be 40 to 60 percent of value), then it will be well worth your expense of getting the appraisal.
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