Traffic accidents damage thousands of motor vehicles each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a motor vehicle collision happens every ten seconds in the United States.
The financial consequences of an automobile accident can last long after your automobile is repaired. An automobile involved in an accident is permanently diminished in value. Diminished value happens when a vehicle involved in an accident suffers physical damage structurally, cosmetically, or both. Even if the vehicle is repaired to an immaculate, like-new condition it is still worth less money than it was before the automobile accident occurred.
The diminished value of a vehicle becomes apparent when an individual attempts to sell it. Many states require full disclosure of any and all accidents in which a vehicle may have been involved. As most buyers prefer vehicles that have not been involved in an accident, an owner of a vehicle involved in an accident will receive less money for his or her vehicle than if the vehicle were never involved in any accidents at all.
Three main types of diminished value apply to diminished value claims. However, not all three types of diminished value are used when legally compensating individuals for the diminished value of their vehicles. These three main types of diminished value are the following:
- Immediate diminished value: This type of diminished value refers to the difference in resale value of the vehicle because of a motor vehicle accident.
- Inherent diminished value: This type of diminished value refers to the loss of a vehicle’s market value. It is the most widely recognized and accepted form of diminished value and is also the most common basis upon which any supplemental forms of diminished value would be added.
- Repair-related diminished value: This type of diminished value refers to the depreciated amount of a vehicle as a result of improper or incomplete repairs, poor quality repairs, or items left unrepaired. Typically, the amount of repair-related diminished value is determined by the overall quality of the repairs.
Diminished value claims have been paid out in every state and by every major insurance company. Nearly every state allows individuals to file a claim of diminished value if their vehicle has been involved in an accident that is not their fault. And even if the other party does not have insurance, individuals who carry uninsured motorist coverage on their policy may be able to file a diminished value claim under their own policy.
Be aware that there exist two different types of diminished value insurance claims: first party insurance claims and third party insurance claims. First party insurance claims occur when individuals damage their own car and their insurance company pays the claim. In first party insurance claims, individuals may still recover the lost value of their vehicle as long as their insurance company does not specifically exclude coverage for diminished value. Third party insurance claims occur when a negligent driver damages another party’s car and the negligent driver’s insurance company pays the claim. In third party insurance claims, all state courts generally support claims for diminished value as long as the loss can be proven.
Several factors may affect the calculation of your vehicle’s diminished value, including:
- The vehicle’s condition before the accident
- The vehicle’s age
- The vehicle’s value undamaged
- Prior accidents
- Marketplace demand
It is important to keep in mind that every vehicle is different, and that the amount of diminished value will vary accordingly. A systematic calculation of your vehicle’s diminished value is therefore difficult. An individual can also pursue a diminished value claim on his or her own by requesting that his or her insurance adjuster address the diminished value of his or her vehicle. But unless that individual is trained to handle diminished value claims, his or her request will most likely be turned down by the insurance company. That’s why you should contact Wattel & York. Only the attorneys at Wattel & York have the expertise and experience necessary to accurately calculate your vehicle’s diminished value following an accident.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of an automobile accident and is considering filing a claim of diminished value, don’t hesitate to contact Wattel & York, Attorneys At Law. Call us toll-free at (877) 572-4143 or complete a simple case form on our website.
An initial consultation is free of charge. If we take your case, we work on a contingent-fee basis — which means you pay us only if you receive a monetary reward or recovery of fees. Don’t hesitate any longer; a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations in your state expires. So call us now. You may have a valid claim entitling you to compensation for diminished value caused by an automobile accident.