What is a fair amount to be paid from an auto insurance company for diminished value on a car after repairs are made?
3 attorney answers
In Tennessee, you have the right as a property owner to express an opinion as to what you think your property is worth. Now, keep in mind that such an opinion is evidence but not conclusive evidence and that a judge or jury might find other evidence, such as an expert opinion, more believable.
Tennessee law is also clear that diminition in value is a recoverable element of damage (although your own insurance contract might exclude it). Generally, that doctrine is based on the theory that if you have two identical cars available for sale - one which has never been damaged and another which has had damage but has been repair - a buyer may not be willing to pay the same amount for both cars. Frequently the amount of diminition is connected to the extent of the damage done and amount and categories of repairs required.
There is no "fair" amount without an expert appraiser's report as to the amount the value has been diminished. Farm Bureau will likely not consider your claim or may make a minimal offer to make you go away without the appraiser's report.
Basically, Diminished Value is the difference in the fair market value/actual cash value of your vehicle after the repairs have been completed compared to the pre-collision value of your vehicle, or what reduced amount your vehicle is worth on the open market now because of the accident after the repairs. The amount would be based on what a similar vehicle to yours (same year, make, model, mileage, options, and condition) would sell for at this time without the accident having occurred less what the vehicle is worth after the accident despite the repairs.
You need to have an appraiser do an estimate on what he believes the vehicle would be worth had it not been involved in an accident less the amount it is worth now after the accident and the completed repairs.
You would then send a demand letter to the insurance adjuster with a copy of that estimate and demand that amount in writing. Of course, if you retain any liability at all for the accident, the offer for the Diminished Value will be reduced according to your percentage of negligence. And you must understand that the fee for the appraiser is not going to be reimbursable from the insurance company, so that is a cost you will have to bear and something you should factor into your decision whether or not to proceed with the Diminished Value claim. If an appraiser charges you $300.00 and the amount of the Diminished Value claim is close to that amount or less, it would not make sense to present a claim for that as you would either not make enough to justify the expense or you would be losing money.
Please do not message me for further advice or call my former law firm if you have any further questions. If you are in need of an attorney to assist you, please search for another attorney in the jurisdiction involved in your case, as I am now retired, and my former law firm is no longer handling these types of cases. I am active on AVVO and answer questions only as a public service at this point.
IMPORTANT: No attorney-client relationship is formed through interaction with this attorney on this public forum. The contents of any comment or response should be considered general conversational discourse on the topic identified and NOT specific legal advice or analysis that might apply to your situation. If you rely upon any part of the content of this response in making any decision or pursuing any course of action, you do so at your own risk and without recourse against this attorney or law firm.