During a car accident claim, most people focus on their medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. However, a skilled injury lawyer can typically identify additional damages, including diminished property value. In this article, Petro Law Firm explains the essentials of these often-missed damages and how to file a diminished value claim.
What Is a Diminished Value Claim?
If you were in a car accident, but your car was not totaled, you may have a claim for its diminished value. While your car may be driveable—and the body shop may make it look like “new,” it’s not.
After a wreck, your car is almost always worth less money—even if you repair the damage and it seems to be working just fine. The cold hard truth is that when you try to sell your vehicle, its history of serious damage will lead to a lower trade-in or sale price. And in today’s digital world, where crash information is easily accessible, you can’t hide the damage or repairs. Unfortunately, many accident victims don’t identify these losses until it’s too late.
A diminished value claim compensates you for your vehicle’s reduced worth. These claims typically focus on one of several factors:
- Your car or truck’s resale value is lower after an accident
- Buyers are less willing to buy a vehicle that was in a crash
- Used or aftermarket parts may not be the same quality as the original (OEM) parts
- Repairs are sometimes imperfect, such as when a body shop cannot perfectly match the car or truck’s paint or trim pieces
In these cases, filing a diminished value claim with an insurance company can compensate you for these subtle, but important, losses.
How to File a Diminished Value Claim
Unlike some states, Alabama lets accident victims file diminished value claims. However, before you file a diminished value claim, it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced lawyer. It can be difficult to calculate exactly how the crash reduced your car’s value—and it’s likely that the insurance company will undervalue your losses.
Your lawyer’s first step in your diminished value claim will be identifying the at-fault party and contacting their insurance company. Notably, you cannot file a claim for your vehicle’s diminished value with your uninsured motorist policy. They will provide the insurer with information about your crash and your vehicle.
At the same time, your attorney will analyze your vehicle’s damage, calculating its pre-crash value, and determining how much the crash reduced its worth. This involves a series of considerations:
- Looking at your vehicle’s age, pre-crash mileage, condition, make and model, and other factors that impacted its value
- Consulting with the mechanics and body shop, so they understand exactly how much damage your vehicle sustained during the crash
- Reviewing the proposed repairs and the types of parts the body shop will use
- Calculating the vehicle’s current diminished value
Sometimes, this requires guidance from valuation and technical experts—especially if your vehicle is rare or has been customized.
Next, the insurance company will investigate and respond to your diminished value claim. While it may agree to pay a reasonable settlement, it’s more likely that the insurance adjuster will deny your claim or offer an unreasonably low amount of compensation.
Your lawyer will then negotiate back and forth with the insurance company, trying to get fair compensation for your losses. They may decide to file a diminished value lawsuit, if you’re approaching Alabama’s statute of limitations (filing deadline) or if the insurance company refuses to be reasonable.
What’s My Diminished Value Claim Worth?
While you can go to resources like Edmunds to get a general idea of your diminished value claim’s worth, a website can never properly calculate your losses. Every car—and every crash—is different. Your diminished value claim’s settlement value will depend on:
- The severity of your car or truck’s damage
- Your vehicle’s age and mileage
- Its make and model
- Whether it was properly maintained before the crash
- The types of parts and technology used during the repair process
- Market trends in the auto industry
Depending on your situation, your diminished value claim could be thousands of dollars—or even more.
Still Unsure How to File a Diminished Value Claim? Call Petro Law Firm
Petro Law Firm is one of Alabama’s most respected injury law teams. We guide accident victims through their diminished value claims, helping them understand exactly how much their vehicle’s resale value has dropped. We’re not afraid to stand up to insurance companies—and we’ll fight to get our clients the compensation they deserve.
If you have questions about a diminished value claim, contact our office today. We offer free consultations, and we’ll won’t charge you for our services until you win your case.