Troubleshooter: Are you leaving money on the table after a car accident?

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Someone hit your car? A diminished-value claim might help.

If you've been in a car accident, you know it typically means your vehicle is now worth less than it was before the accident.

However, to make you whole, you can file a diminished value claim. It's a claim that helps you recoup the loss of your vehicle's value after an accident.

"If you go to sell your car or do anything with your car it is worth less, it's the diminished value," said Hoyt Tessener with the James Scott Farrin law firm.

Tessener said the problem is that not many people know about filing a diminished-value claim.

"The insurance company never tells anybody that they have this coverage, and we're all paying for it with our liability insurance or your uninsured motors coverage. Be aware this is something you're entitled to. It's not anything extra it is just making you whole," Tessener said.

To file a diminished value claim, the accident can't be your fault, plus there needs to be enough damage to have an impact on the value of your vehicle.

"You get that final repair bill, that final estimate and you look at it. Then we can see what was repaired," Tessener explained. "Are these structural components?"

You can file the claim on your own or with the help of an attorney.

Yazan Habaq was sitting in his one-week-old car at a red light when it was hit from behind.

"I looked behind me, and there was a car underneath my bumper," Habaq said.

The repairs totaled more than $8,000.

"My car just lost a whole ton of value, and anytime I want to resell it, anyone can go pull up a Carfax, and it's been in an accident," Habaq said.

Besides paying for the repairs and medical bills, Habaq said at first, the insurance company of the driver who hit his car only wanted to pay him $500 to cover his loss of work and his loss of value for his car after the accident.

With the help of an attorney, Habaq filed a diminished-value claim and was successful in getting more than $1,500. He said he's very happy with the outcome.

There is a three-year statute of limitations on diminished-value claims, and remember you can only file if you are found not at fault for the accident.

Typically, the insurance company will not come to you about filing a claim; this is something you need to pursue on your own or through the help of an attorney.
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