Diminished Value & Total Loss Economic Bully Stick

If you’re getting a less than fair offer and being given some fake excuse why they won’t pay or being told “take it or leave it” on your low value diminished value or total loss claim ($3500 or less and damages are not your fault), then you have a tough realization to come to. 

That realization is that you CANNOT obtain justice. 

diminished value economic bully stick - economic bully

No joke, you can’t win unless you ignore the economics of it and define justice solely as having your day in court and winning. 

Let me say it again. . .

Unless you spend the majority of the $3500.00, YOU CANNOT OBTAIN JUSTICE if you have suffered $3500.00 or less in property damages and the person responsible, or their insurance company, is refusing to pay for the full amount of damages. 

Ever so often, an insurance carrier or at fault person will surprise me and simply pay for what they owe, but most of the time, they let their insurance company deny payment, or they personally refuse to pay for the full amount of damages.  That nothing can be done is so hard for people to accept / believe that victims refuse to believe it and constantly attempt to convince me that I am wrong and that if I will just help them, they will prove they can get justice. 

Questions you need answers to!

Below I have listed the 10 most common arguments / questions I hear when I tell victims that their claim is a lost cause, and then below that, I have listed the answers I give them. . . .

1.   No way, that’s why we have a legal system, there has got to be something I can do, right?

2.   You mean to tell me that the insurance company can just get away with not paying?

3.   Isn’t it illegal for them to deny my claim?

4.   Won’t the department of insurance help me?

5.   That ain’t right! I’m gonna call a better expert – do you know anybody?

6.   Well, I am going to sue the insurance company immediately, can you send me information on small claims court?

7.   Fine, if you won’t help, then can you refer me to an attorney?

8. If I spend the money to fight and I win, the other side will have to pay back my attorneys fees and costs, right?

9.   Whatever Justin, I will sue and get the insurance company in trouble for DTPA violations (deceptive trade practices), you didn’t think of that, did you?

10. I will get the media involved and expose this – that’ll work, right?

Diminished Value & Total Loss Economic Bully Stick – Truth Bombs

The answers you need to hear about your low value low value property damage claim

diminished value economic bully stick - truth bombs

1.   No way, that’s why we have a legal system, there has got to be something I can do, right?

Not without spending at least $2000.00, and that’s a best case scenario. 

You can bet it’ll probably cost more than that because of unexpected expenses. Think additional inspections, additional costs to serve the at fault person if they are hard to find, etc. Also, remember that you can only sue the at fault person (not their insurance company).

This means you’ll have to be able to out perform an insurance company defense attorney. In states where they don’t allow attorneys, you’ll at least deal with somebody that’s highly trained (by an attorney or insurance company) in how to defend against small value cases like yours. 

Insurance companies have a defense budget just for small cases like yours.  They don’t care if they win or lose, they just have the money to force you to spend your money to fight. 

Further Breakdown of Costs

Court Costs

Another harsh reality in the subject of diminished value & total loss economics is all of the costs you have to incur. If you sue, you will have to spend a couple of hundred dollars on filing and service fees to the court (in most States).

You’ll also have to have solid evidence of the amount of your damages – think expert appraiser / witness, not counting what you would pay an attorney if you retained one. 

If you don’t have an attorney, you need to know the basics about the legal system and the rules of evidence.

Even if you memorize them, you’ll lack the experience that a defense attorney has, and you will lose over a technicality or not understanding a rule of some sort. 

Motion in Limine

Did you know that in the vast majority of these cases, when you are in court you will not be able to mention insurance at all (research motion in limine)?

You can’t talk about the insurance claim or how the insurance company has treated you (because they didn’t cause the wreck, and you have no cause of action against them for your property damages) or the trial can be declared a mistrial. 

Don’t believe me? Ask some of the attorneys I consult with.

They’ll show you the rules of evidence, and explain how insurance is not relevant and can be excluded from mention at the trial. 

So far, regarding diminished value & total loss economics, you’ve got:

  • The filing costs
  • An expert appraisal (you’re approximately $500 in now)
  • You’ve spent the time to learn the basics about how to fight in court

You still need your expert at court with you. 

Next to me, the cheapest expert I know of will charge a minimum of $500.00 additional to show up at court. On top of that minimum $500 charge, they’ll tack on an additional $125.00/hour for however many hours it takes for the trial. 

Time Investment

Small claims cases normally start at about 10 am and last at least 4 or 5 hours.  There has to be a jury selected, and then if everything is not done by lunch, the court will break for lunch. After lunch, and after all evidence has been presented, the jury will have to deliberate.

You can count on 5 hours on top of a minimum charge for most experts, and that doesn’t count the fee you will pay your attorney (which is basically mandatory if you want to win), and any extra costs that might pop up, like the cost of a property inspection or deposition. 

A Final Overview of Costs

So, let’s see what your out of pocket is now. . . $500 for expert report and initial filing and service fees, then another $500 to have expert show up at trial, and then if the case lasts only 5 hours, that’s another $625.00.

Total minimum so far is $1625.00 and that’s without an attorney. Again, I’ll stress that, without an attorney, you will lose. 

If you tack on a 1/3 contingency fee, and you’re fighting for $3500.00, then that’s another $1165.50. 

All in all, you are looking at $2790.50 to go to court and maybe win $3500.00, and you don’t get any of the money you spent back except for the service and filing fees, the lowest cost of all! 

Congrats, you just spent $2790.50 to get $709.50 (plus maybe your $200 court costs back). 

I don’t think that is a good trade off.

2.   You mean to tell me that the insurance company can just get away with not paying?

Yes. 

The insurance company can just say no.

Unless you can just negotiate the hell out of ’em and get them to pay you voluntarily, they’re perfectly within their legal rights to just disagree with your evidence until you prove you are right in a court of law. 

Sucks, huh?

3.  Isn’t it illegal for them to deny my claim?

Outside of a direct violation of some relevant statute (there are very few statutes that apply to not at fault property damage claims), NO, it is not illegal for an insurance company to deny your claim or disagree with your evidence. 

In fact, this is the main reason they get away with doing it! 

Technically, it would be against civil law if you could show an exact case (case law precedence) where the exact kind of evidence you are using was used to make the exact same insurance company pay a claim exactly like yours, in the exact same court. 

Good luck!

4.  Won’t the department of insurance help me?

Nope. 

The department of insurance cannot make an insurance company pay your claim.  They will simply tell you that your case is a matter of law for a court to decide. 

Test it out and see if I am not right. 

In fact, most people don’t realize that unless you are dealing with your own insurance company, the department of insurance does not regulate pending auto claims litigation, which is what you technically have if you are dealing with somebody else who was at fault, or their insurance company.

5.  That ain’t right! I’m gonna call a better expert – do you know anybody?

Not trying to be arrogant, but I know lots of experts and none are more knowledgeable or better than me at what I do. 

If you find one, I would like to meet them and have them help the people that I cannot help.

6.   Well, I am going to sue the insurance company immediately, can you send me information on small claims court?

See the answer in number 1. 

You cannot sue the insurance company unless they violated some public policy, and that’s a different lawsuit altogether and does not include your property damages. 

I can send you the information about small claims court in any state, but you can also look it up yourself on the internet.  I am not Google.

7.  Fine, if you won’t help, then can you refer me to an attorney?

I know a lot of attorneys, but I do not know any attorney that will take a case that is worth less than $3500.00. 

So NO, I can’t refer you to an attorney unless you have a claim that is worth more than $3500.00.

8. I can too get justice! If I spend the money to fight and I win, the other side will have to pay back my attorneys fees and costs, right?

WRONG! I get this question so often that I wanted to make sure I just don’t say this without some source for why I am right. 

The rule to research is called “The American Rule”. (“American Rule.” Investopedia. N. p., 2019. Web. 25 Apr. 2019)

9.  Whatever Justin! I will sue and get the insurance company in trouble for DTPA violations (deceptive trade practices) – you didn’t think of that, did you?

You can try this, but it is even more expensive than suing the at fault party in small claims court, AND you have to prove that the insurance company is denying claims like yours as a “practice”, not that they just treated you wrong on your case. 

You have to prove they have a practice of being deceptive, and that’s pretty hard to do unless you have access to all of their claims records on other people’s claims so you can prove they have done it to more than just you, again as a practice. 

AND, get this: you can’t get the information on other peoples claims because of financial privacy laws! 

DTPA suits on auto claims just don’t happen unless they are presented as a class action suit, in my experience.

10. I will get the media involved and expose this – that’ll work, right?

I wish I could get a media outlet to investigate this problem, but I have not been successful in drawing any attention as of yet. 

One major problem: those same insurance companies are MAJOR advertisers at all TV and Radio stations. You think a corporate media outlet is going to bite the hands that feed them filet mignon in order to expose this nasty little secret? NOPE.

Can you help me?

Call me Debbie Downer

diminished value economic bully stick - Debbie Downer

Well, there it is. 

Call me Debbie Downer if you like, but I am spewing the truth. 

So many people get beat up with the economic bully stick that I had to change my phone system to avoid constantly explaining this problem!

Although I have the most information about how to recover low value property damage claims, I can’t spend all my time doing free consultations. Routinely, victims eat up my time by desperately trying to question me until they come up with a solution. 

Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you want to look at it, lol), I am not an attorney. The law does not allow me to charge for consulting individuals about their legal options on their claims. 

I wrote this article as an educational tool only about the diminished value & total loss economic bully stick with the intent to at least help victims. It also keeps me from spending all my time doing free consultations and becoming homeless. 

With 22 years experience in small value property damage recovery, I’ve tried every possible way to help victims against this diminished value economic bully stick. You can bet I am right about this. 

I’ve learned all the ways the system (legal and auto insurance) discriminates against low value damage claims. I’ve had to admit that the only solution is for the law to change, or for every single victim to forget the economics of small value property damage claims pursuits. 

diminished value economic bully stick - drop the mic

As it stands and until the law or attitude of victims changes,  I am unfortunately still right.

YOU CANNOT GET (economic) JUSTICE FOR A SMALL VALUE PROPERTY DAMAGE CLAIM. 

This article is not to be construed as legal advice.  If you have legal questions, call a licensed attorney (the coercive State makes me say this)!

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