Here’s a big development in the area of diminished value law. A unanimous Georgia Supreme court held that property insurers have to pay diminished value damages to their policyholders when real estate is damaged. Georgia has been a leader to some degree in the area of diminished value claims. In Georgia, unlike most other states, an auto policyholder can make a claim against his own insurer for lost value of a vehicle after it has been in an accident. Most other states only allow a claim for lost value against the party who caused the accident.
Back to the Acura MDX diminution of value case. I finally got through to the adjuster. She stubbornly refused to raise her offer and asked if I had an appraisal by a certified appraiser. This is an important point. She did not know that a certified appraisal is not necessary for a lot of diminished value or property damage claims. If you have a sale or a trade-in, that is proof of value just as much as a certified appraisal.
This week’s case holds a lesson for everyone. It involves my client, an owner of a 2012 Land Rover with 2000 miles on it. He was traveling on a suburban road within the speed limit when another car going in the opposite direction tried to make a left hand turn in front of him. Unfortunately, the other car was a late model Corvette and it was totaled. The Corvette took full responsibility. My client did what many of my clients do. He had it towed, fixed and then went to have an estimate done, to see how much he could get if he traded it in for a new one.
Here’s a new diminished value case that just came in and it’s troubling because there may be no good solution. The owner is a woman who has a 2012 Acura. She took it to a car wash, and got out so the attendant could drive it into the car wash. After the attendant got the front tire into the track that pushes the car through the car wash, he got out and the car lurched forward into the car in front, damaging her front bumper. He probably forgot to put in neutral.
Sorry for the long absence. I was away for a long vacation and got very backed up. Unfortunately, the delay did not help the Acura MDX claim. The adjuster just sent me for a second time what she sent before, namely, her company’s breakdown of how they calculate diminished value claims, and a claim form to fill out to accept their low offer.
The Acura MDX auto property loss claim hasn’t made much progress, sadly. I called the adjuster to say that her breakdown is not really important to us. I did not get through to her, and she did not call back. The reason that her breakdown is not important to us is that a court is not bound by the insurance company’s policy on what to pay for a diminished value recovery. If that were true, there would be no need for courts.
Vic’s auto diminished value claim has been concluded – mostly. If you’ve been following these posts you know that we’ve been working on a small auto accident property damage claim that we won in court, and the insurance company lost and then appealed. They missed some deadlines, and made other mistakes, so we filed papers in court to strike the appeal. The insurance company tried 4 times to get the appeal reinstated, and each time violated local court rules so the judge never made a ruling.
Another Pennsylvania diminished value claim we’re working on also shows the difficulty of settling diminution of value claims. It involves a 2 year old Acura MDX with 23,000 miles that was in a moderate accident. No passengers were hurt, but the car had $14,000 in repair costs. The owner went to the dealer to find out about a trade in, and learned that the accident cost her $10,000.00 in auto value damage. She had the dealer put the auto property loss estimate in writing, and she used that to negotiate herself but only got a lowball offer for about ten percent of her loss.
There’s still no movement on the auto diminished value claim of Vic, and there’s a very good lesson for those of you following this story. I have a judgment against the other driver, I have recorded the judgment in 2 counties, and the insurance company still hasn’t paid the damages. The next step is to start collection activities such as suspending the driver’s license of the at fault driver, attaching his bank account and property, demanding the insurance company turn over information about his policy and whereabouts, among others.
There is no movement on the appeal yet, the insurance company hasn’t offered to pay the diminished value claim yet and I’m preparing to execute the judgment and take other enforcement actions. So, I’ll move on to another diminution of value claim that I had in the past. It involved a Mercury Milan V-6 SUV with very low mileage at the time of the accident. The Milan was stopped at a four way stop, then entered the intersection when a vehicle coming from her right ran a stop sign and hit her broadside.