First, let me say that a small percentage of car accident attorneys do help their clients with diminished value, but in my experience this percentage is no higher than 5%. Many of my clients come to me after having called multiple attorneys and invariably hearing: “we don’t do property damage.” Even many people who are already represented for their personal injury and their PI claim is substantial, can’t get their attorney to do as much as send a single demand letter for diminished value. So even people with injuries are often left to handle the property damage part of their case on their own. So let’s explore why attorneys are reluctant to fulfill their promise of “getting their clients every penny they deserve” when it comes to DV.
They don’t think it’s worth their time
Many attorneys think that claiming diminished value is worth it only on very expensive new cars. That is simply not true. Looking at our real client data, the average diminished value claim is $5,000. Average means for an average car, not for next year’s Porsche model that was bought this month and barely rolled out of the dealership. Think a three-year-old Toyota Camry with 36,000 miles — and yes, this is an actual client’s car and the diminished value on it was $5,050. So it’s definitely worth it for the client.
Now, is it worth it for the attorney? Let’s take the standard 33% contingency fee. $1,650 extra per case. For a reasonable size practice of 15 new accident clients per month, that’s about $25,000 extra per month. Is it traumatic brain injury or fatality money? No, but it’s reasonable.
They don’t know how to do it quickly and efficiently
This directly relates to the first reason because it concerns the time part of the “worth it equation”. If an attorney spends an unreasonable amount of time handling the DV claim, then it’s probably not worth their time. On the other hand, if they have an efficient process where 95% of the claim handling is done by their staff, it very quickly becomes worth it. 95% of DV claim handling can be done by intake staff and negotiation staff without requiring attorney involvement.
A streamlined diminished value claim process for a law firm includes: an optimized intake with necessary property damage questions, a 24-hr free DV estimate pipeline with an appraiser, on-demand certified appraisals, and demand letter generation. Free estimates are the crucial part as it removes all guesswork about the value of a DV claim. With a solid estimate in hand, the firm and the client can quickly make an informed call on whether to pursue. If yes, a certified appraisal is then ordered from the appraiser, a demand letter is generated and both are sent to the insurance company. All of this requires zero direct involvement from attorneys.
Rigid focus on personal injury and resistance to change
This goes beyond refusing only-property-damage cases. Many PI attorneys refuse to help their existing personal injury clients with Property Damage. But many of these same attorneys will have no issue claiming something like “Loss of Wages” or even “Loss of Use”. Why? These damages are often smaller than the average DV claim of $5,000.
Attorneys are one of the most conservative professions and it mostly serves them well. They are trained to be skeptical. But sometimes resistance to change is counter-productive. For example, a PI attorney’s friends at other firms never claim diminished value – so she figures she can’t go wrong by not claiming it either.
It’s time to do better for your clients
If you’re a PI attorney, and you feel strongly about truly getting your car accident clients everything they deserve, consider an auto appraisal firm such as Tiger DV to easily integrate diminished value claims into your practice.