"Diminished value" is the lost resale value your vehicle suffers in a collision even if it's repaired back to the condition it was in before (pre-loss condition). Even the best body shops have limitations on their ability, resources, equipment, and material to repair collision damaged vehicles outside the factory environment. Buyers know that wrecked and repaired vehicles aren't as good as "clean" ones. They are now damaged goods and vehicle history reporting companies like CARFAX will provide the history so any interested party may be able to discover the damage history of a possible vehicle for purchase. It's harder to sell a collision-damaged vehicle than a "clean" or undamaged one. If you try, you'll have to offer a discount on the price. That's "diminished value." If you trade in your car, you'll probably get a lower offer.
Diminished Value is Recoverable
Insurance companies resist paying diminished value claims more strongly than they resist paying even personal injury claims. They will claim that the repair restored the vehicle to its true pre-loss condition; they will claim that a customer can't make a diminished value claim unless they sell the vehicle. They are flat wrong. Wattel and York is the leading diminished value law firm in the country. We are familiar with every excuse an insurance company has to offer. Where we can't reach a settlement, we have taken diminished value claims - either with personal injury claims or on their own - to Court and won.
Diminished Value is the Law
Washington law expressly recognizes that inherent diminished value is a direct, foreseeable, and proximate result of collision-related physical damage to a motor vehicle. "A vehicle suffers diminished value when it sustains physical damage in an accident but due to the nature of the damage it cannot be fully restored to its pre-loss condition. The remaining irreparable physical damage such as for example weakened metal which cannot be repaired and which results in diminished value." Moeller v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Washington, 155 Wn. App. 133, 229 P.3d 857 (Div. II 2010). When the cost of reasonable repairs combined with depreciation following ideal repair is less than the depreciation of the unrepaired vehicle, a collision victim is entitled to compensation for the former. WPI 30.12 (Washington Pattern Jury Instructions for Civil Cases). There is no question that, when push comes to shove and a Court must hear a diminished value claim, Washington law recognizes the damage.
Expert Witnesses and Expert Attorneys are Critical
There are plenty of online sources for estimating diminished value, there are a few attorneys who will "take a stab" at making a diminished value claim, and many folks try to negotiate these claims on their own. Insurance companies do not take Internet evaluations seriously, and we cannot use them in Court. The best way to handle your diminished value claim is to retain an experienced attorney who can guide you toward an experienced, respected, ** live ** diminished value expert who can back up his or her appraisal of your damages in Court. Preparing your case as though it is going to trial is the best way to keep it from going to trial.
How Do You Know if You Have a Claim?
Generally, the newer your vehicle, the higher it's market value, the cleaner its collision history, and the more severe the damage it suffered, the greater your damages for diminished value. A $25,000 repair job to correct frame damage for a 2010 BMW M3 will obviously result in more diminished value than a $5,000 repair to a 2008 Camry. But you would be suprised at how much diminished value your vehicle suffers if it is involved in a collision. Getting expert advice about whether you have a claim worth pursuing is always worth the time it takes to make a free phone call to an experienced diminished value attorney.
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