As an auto accident lawyer representing people and families in North Port, Venice, Englewood, Port Charlotte and surrounding communities, I frequently speak with individuals who quickly grow frustrated with the process of resolving an auto accident property damage claim with an insurance company following a collision. In most cases, that frustration is fully justified. Why do these auto accident victims become so frustrated? The answer is due to the fact that many insurance companies seek to cheat them out of a reasonable settlement and resolution of their property damage claim in order to maximize corporate profits — and the sad part is that Florida law allows them to get away with it!
So what is someone entitled to receive if they are in a collision and their car is damaged or deemed a total loss? The answer depends on several factors: 1) the language in their own insurance policy, 2) Florida law, 3) the amount of their deductible, and 4) whether another party is at fault for causing the collision. Every case is unique and all of these factors must be evaluated.
If a car is deemed a total loss following an accident, most drivers mistakenly believe that they are entitled to receive a settlement that would allow them to “replace” the damaged vehicle. After all, this seems fair, right? Unless the language in the insurance policy specifically provides for “replacement value;” however, the insured is most likely going to receive an offer equal to “fair market value” for their wrecked automobile. Fair market value is typically far less than replacement value.
Insurance company adjusters will often erroneously conclude and try to persuade the insured driver that the fair market value of a vehicle is equivalent to its “trade in value.” We all know, however, that we cannot purchase a similar vehicle to replace the car we have lost for an amount equal to the car’s trade in value. Unless the consumer specifically purchases “replacement value” insurance coverage for their vehicles, they may find themself in a losing battle with the insurance company on a Florida property damage claim.
Of course, if you have suffered property damage or an injury as a result of an automobile accident, it is certainly worthwhile to call a lawyer and request a free initial consultation to learn your rights.