There are two primary cases that address the notion of damages in the diminished value context.
The seminal case is that of Siegle vs. Progressive Consumer’s Insurance Company, 819 So.2d 732 (Florida 2002). The Siegle case, which was heard in front of the Supreme Court, stands for the proposition that although Florida does not recognize first party diminished value claims (meaning claims against ones own insurance company) Florida does recognize third party claims whereby a vehicle owner may seek recovery against an at-fault driver for their negligence in causing the loss of value.
In McHale vs. Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. 409 So.2d 238 (1982), the Court determined that the correct measure of damages is the cost of repairplus any reduction in the value of the vehicle. The Court did put the burden of proving the reduction in value on the Plaintiff who is bringing the claim.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for collecting diminished value is three years and is measured from the date of accident. It is important to keep in mind that the statue of limitations is the final date at which a legal proceeding may be brought against the insurance company. What this means is that even if you are beyond the statue of limitations it still may be worth attempting to negotiate a settlement with the at fault party’s insurance company. Although your claim may fall outside of the state of limitations you have nothing to lose because the worst they can do is tell you “no”.
Keep in mind, in Florida (and virtually every other state) diminished value is only recoverable from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, not the vehicle owner’s own insurance company. Having said that, it is possible to recover diminished value from the vehicle owner’s uninsured motorist’s policy if it could be properly recovered from the at fault party had they had insurance.
Despite the insurance companies argument to the contrary, third party diminished value claims are absolutely compensable in the state of Florida. It is important to note that the Florida Supreme Court has adopted the measure of damages for diminished value in their standard jury instructions. Most lawyers will tell you that in the absence of clear case law, jury instructions are extremely helpful in determining how courts rule on various matters. The fact that insurance companies still universally deny diminution in value claims in light of this and other corroborating evidence of its existence is absolutely astounding.
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