If you have an automobile that is damaged during a car accident, you may have a diminution of value claim. These claims come from the idea that a vehicle that has been damaged in an accident, but is subsequently repaired, still has an inherently diminished value when compared to its status before the damage occurred or to an identical vehicle that had not been involved in an accident.
Diminished Value – Even If Perfectly Repaired
The diminished value exists because when presented with two identical used cars on a sales lot, a shopper will always choose the car with no accident history. In essence, the collision results in a “diminution” in the market value of the vehicle regardless of how thoroughly it was repaired.
While diminished value claims are not available in every state, Missouri and Kansas allow such claims, provided they are made within the applicable statute of limitations and the person making the claim was not at fault in the collision. In addition, uninsured motorist coverage (coverage provided by your own policy when the at-fault driver is uninsured or can’t be found) is not available for diminution of value claims. But, you can make a claim under the at-fault party’s insurance policy for the difference in the fair market value of the car immediately before the accident and the fair market value of the car immediately after the repairs have been made. In addition, if the repairs were not “perfect,” you can also bring a claim for “repair-related” diminished value.
Diminished value claims are usually worth more when you have a newer, higher-end vehicle. If you were driving an older car worth $8,000 before you were involved in a collision and it is now worth only $4,000 after the collision and full repairs have been made, your diminution of value claim is for $4,000. On the other hand, if you were driving a new luxury vehicle worth $70,000 when you got into an accident with an at fault driver, and your car is now only worth $30,000, you have a diminution of value claim for $40,000. This claim is certainly worth making and if necessary, hiring an expert to help obtain that value.
If the at-fault driver’s insurance company is not making a fair and appropriate settlement offer for your property damage, you may need the assistance of an experienced attorney to assist you in making a value determination based on comparable sales, engaging in negotiations, and, if necessary, in bringing the matter to trial on your behalf. Call Aaron House today for a free consultation at 816-875-4260.