Diminished Value: My car is a wreck! What do I do about it?
As an Alexandria Injury Attorney dealing with various car accident cases, many of our clients have claims for the property damage sustained by their vehicles. More often than not, those claims are resolved quickly and easily, without any need for attorney involvement. If liability is clear-cut, the other motorist’s insurance will usually issue payment promptly. Even in a case where liability may be contested, the quickest and most economical way to resolve this claim is normally for the client to “bite the bullet” and pay their deductible (to repair the car), and have those repairs covered under their collision coverage.
Even when the car has been fully repaired, however, there is sometimes a remaining claim that can be made for the car’s “diminished value.” Diminished value can be defined simply as the loss of value (of a vehicle) because of its having been damaged. The concept of diminished value recognizes that a car that has been fully repaired is not worth as much as a similar car that has never been in an accident. Today everyone is familiar with car history reports such as CARFAX, which provides information to prior crashes.
Diminished value claims are recognized and accepted by all the Courts in which we practice. (Virginia - Averett v. Shircliff, 218 Va. 202, 206-207, 237 S.E.2d 92 (1977); District of Columbia - American Service Center Assc. v. Helton, 867 A.2d 235 (2005); Maryland - Fred Frederick Motors Inc. v. Krause, 12 Md.App. 62, 277 A.2d 464 (Md. App. 1971))
Not every case will justify the pursuit of a diminished value claim. An expert appraiser has to be hired, the underlying value of the vehicle, and the extent of necessary repairs must be factored into the assessment of the claim. As an example: our office recently had a case involving a client’s Tesla, valued at approximately $75,000.00. After more than $20,000 in repairs, the client’s diminished value claim was found to be approximately $15,000.00!
Do you have a question as to whether you have a diminished value claim after an accident? Contact our office for a free consultation.