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Explaining a Diminished Value Claim

Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC

Imagine you are planning to sell your car. It’s a fully restored classic that you’ve been working on as an investment. You take it out for one last spin when you are suddenly hit by a speeding driver. This car is not only damaged, but it has also lost value.

A car’s value is not always directly tied to how well it performs. The history of the vehicle is considered part of its worth. Even after costly repairs, a car that has been in an accident can lose value.

Most of us are aware that insurance is there to cover the cost of damage to your car. It pays for repairs, provides a rental car, helps with medical bills, and more. If you are worried about the overall loss of your car’s value, there is another benefit. A diminished value claim can help recoup the lost value of your vehicle.

Qualifications

In Oklahoma, You Have Two Years to File For a Diminished Value Claim.

This should give you time to make sure that the car has gone down in price. Even with repairs, there could be lasting damage. When repairs have gone perfectly, you could still discover that simply based on the car’s accident history, its value has dropped.

You Cannot Be the At-Fault Driver.

In Oklahoma, accident benefits revolve around fault. The person responsible for an accident must cover the costs of the other driver’s repairs. Their insurance company covers the bill, or, if necessary, they can be ordered to pay in a personal injury lawsuit. This system applies to the lost value of your car as well. If you caused the accident, you cannot expect to be compensated for the value you’ve lost.

Types of Devaluation

The Inherent Value Is Diminished

As previously mentioned, a car’s history is part of its overall value. Imagine you are steeped in car culture, and you collect classic cars. You find two beautiful ’68 Mustangs for sale. Both have been meticulously maintained with regular part replacements and upgrades as necessary. They both look and ride perfectly, exactly how you would expect. However, you discover that one of them has never been involved in an accident, and the other had to be rebuilt after a bad wreck. Superficially, there is no difference between them, but the car that has suffered no damage costs more.

This mentality plays into the valuing of any car, even in used trade-ins. People like things that are pristine. Both buyers and sellers like knowing that a car is “virgin,” having never experienced damage. Even if your car is completely rebuilt, running better than it did before, its history can bring down its value.

Immediate Loss of Value

When a car is damaged, it instantly goes down in price, before repairs are even attempted. When your accident leaves you in a serious financial bind, such as a car accident right before a sale, an immediate loss claim can help recoup your money.

Value Lost Due to Repairs

Repairs do not always fix your car’s problems. Most car owners have experienced a car needing multiple repairs. Sometimes repairs are so poor, they cause extra damage to the car. If the attempt to fix the car led to more damage, you may be able to file a diminished value claim.

Determining a Car’s Value

To get a true valuation of your car, you can have it appraised. In this process, a trained appraiser will overlook your car. They will inspect the body, frame, parts, paint job, and so on. The car’s history, once again, will be considered as part of the car’s overall worth. It will also be judged in the context of overall market value. Cars go up and down in price, both individually and collectively. Sometimes a particular model fluctuates, and sometimes the car market itself does. Think of this process the same way you do a home inspection, only for your vehicle.

Loss of Value Appraisals

If you specifically want to determine how much value your car has lost, you have a few options. When you take your car in for appraisal, tell them your concerns. Explain that you’re afraid that your car has been devalued, and that you specifically want to know how much your car is worth compared to the highest market values. With this information, your appraiser will know exactly what they are looking for, and they can show you how much you’ve lost.

Loss of Use

If the vehicle was used for business purposes, you can specifically target how much its loss of worth affects your business. If you, for example, are renting luxury cars to high-end customers, a car that has been damaged will be less attractive to your clients. Perhaps you have a vehicle that performs a specific function, like a construction vehicle. Maybe it is still operable, but it works at only half its original effectiveness. A loss of use appraisal will give you an idea of how much a vehicle’s damage affects your overall business income.

Lease Termination

Car owners must be careful of getting “upside down” on “underneath” on their cars. This happens when the money you owe on your lease is greater than the value of your vehicle. If this is already a concern for you, then having a wreck makes things worse. Now your car is worth even less, meaning you’re even further underneath. On top of that, you’re paying for costly repairs. In a lease termination appraisal, you may be able to show that because of the damage, you can’t recover the cost of the car, and you may be able to break your lease.

Luxury Automobile

Recall our earlier examples of collectors dealing in classic cars. With a luxury automobile appraisal, you can discover just how much the damage has harmed your investment, and you may be able to receive compensation with a diminished value claim.

Total Loss

A “total loss” is just as bleak as it sounds. After a severe crash, a car may not be worth saving. Often, insurance companies will simply pay you the value of the car as-is, buying it from you directly. In such a case, a total loss appraisal can help you in a diminished value claim. You may be able to recoup the lost value along with the insurance buyout.

Getting Help from an Attorney

Not all insurance companies offer devaluation benefits, and it can be tricky to receive money from those that do. If you need compensation for your car’s lost worth, consult a lawyer. Even if you are denied by your insurance company, an attorney may be able to negotiate with them. This is especially helpful for collectors who used the car’s value as their primary purpose for ownership. If working with insurance companies doesn’t help, your attorney may be able to reach a settlement with the at-fault driver. When all else fails, it may be necessary to take the matter to court.

If you have concerns about the loss of your car’s worth, contact us for a free consultation. You can call today at (918) 347-6456 or fill out an online contact form.

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