Claim Against Me For Vehicle Diminution

A few months ago I was involved in a very, very minor vehicle accident that was my fault caused when I reversed out of a parking space at what must've been less than 5mph and bumped/scraped the wing and bumper of a car right behind me but barely a scfatch on my car.  I swapped details with the other party and we were both on our way after about 15mins.
A few weeks later I was contacted by my insurance company who took all my details including asking me to email a couple of photos I took at the scene.  I told them my car was fine and they told me that they would take care of it all from there and I considered the matter closed.
Last week, out of the blue, I received county court claim forms through the post addressed directly to me with the particulars of claim detailing the accident and claiming a reduction in value of the claimant's vehlcle, solictors costs and interest amounting to some £3500.
First of all I would've thought that this should be sent directly to my insurers to deal with and not me personally, but as it has come addressed to me personally am I now expacted to respond and defend myself?  I think that this claim is speculative at best as the damage, which may well have amounted to a few thousand pounds to repair (68 plate VW), would certainly not have devalued the car by as much.  Infact I am sure that there would be no diminshed value in the claimant's car at all which is why I think this claim is speculative at best.
Can anyone offer any advice on how I should progress with this from here?  This is causing me a great deal anxiety and worry not knowing what I should do and I have to reply within 2 weeks.
Many thanks.

Comments

  • Aretnap
    Aretnap Posts: 5,140
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    edited 9 October 2023 at 10:16PM
    No doubt it's alarming to get court papers like this, but it's actually quite routine and not really anything to worry about.

    What's happened is that your insurance company hasn't paid the other driver (or his own insurance company) what he's asking for - either because they're disputing the amount that he's claiming, or because the overworked claims department is just being slow. Either way, if he wants to force the issue, he has to do this via a court claim.

    The claim gets made against you and sent to you personally because you're the one who caused the accident so ultimately the liability lies with you. He can't take your insurer to court directly unless he's claiming that your insurer damaged his car. Instead he takes you to court, and you have to ask your insurer to deal with the claim on your behalf, as your policy says that they will.

    Do not attempt to deal with the court papers yourself. Contact your insurer immediately, tell them that you've recieved a court claim and follow their instructions. Probably they'll tell you to forward the papers on to them, and then you may not hear much more about it. In which case there's no harm in chasing them in another week or so to make sure that it's being dealt with. It's unlikely to get as far as an actual court hearing, but rest assured that even if it does, it will still be your insurer that ends up paying, not you personally.

    Oldzskool said:
     I think that this claim is speculative at best as the damage, which may well have amounted to a few thousand pounds to repair (68 plate VW), would certainly not have devalued the car by as much.  Infact I am sure that there would be no diminshed value in the claimant's car at all which is why I think this claim is speculative at best.
    In legal terms the diminished value IS the repair cost. Technically when you claim for damage that someone causes your property you are not claiming for the cost of repairs, you are claiming for the loss of value that your property suffered as a result of the damage. In other words, the difference between what your car would have sold for five minutes before the accident, and what it would sell for five minutes after the accident.

    In practical terms the cost of repairs is generally accepted as a good measure of the diminution in value (a £10000 car that needs £3000 of repairs would probably sell for... about £7000), but the claim will still refer to the diminution of value rather than the repair costs. They don't mean residual loss of value after the repairs have been complated, which as you say is probably low or zero.
  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 9,184
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    You are the party involved in the accident so it is standard practice to issue directly against you. You dont need to respond to it, advise your insurers you've received it and follow their instruction on how to forward it to them. They will respond as your representatives.

    As above, you technically claim for the devaluation of your property in claims like this but the courts accept that the cost of repair is a reasonable proxy for what the devaluation is. Its not accurate, for one people always underestimate the cost of repairs and so our engineers would generally devalue a car by 60%-80% of repair costs for pre-existing damage but legal precedent has been set a long time ago. 

    Solicitor fees will go out the window, they're not recoverable on small track cases but that's by the by, your insurers will negotiate as appropriate 
  • Thanks both for your replies, I've contacted the claims handlers and they have given me an email address and asked me to forward on the court papers to their solicitors to deal with. 
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