Whether it’s a minor fender bender or a serious crash, it’s never a good time for a wreck to interrupt your life. One minute you are driving to the store along US 119 listening to WDHR the same way you have hundreds of times before, and the next, you’re surrounded by shattered glass with a deflated airbag and a broken leg. No longer concerned about the grocery list, you now worry about how your injury will affect your job, how your car will be fixed, and who’s going to pay for it all.
Car accidents cost a lot of money. Your insurance premiums may go up, you’ll have to pay for doctor visits and car repairs, and you may miss work. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that highway collisions carry an annual price tag of $871 billion in economic loss and societal harm. Findings from a study by the Insurance Research Council show that in 2013, the average auto liability claim for property damage was $3,231, the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $15,443, the average collision claim was $3,144, and the average comprehensive claim was $1,621.
Simply by being in a wreck, a vehicle loses value. A vehicle that was damaged is worth less than one that was never damaged. The idea is that potential buyers may believe that any repairs done on a vehicle, even if they meet the highest standards, have not restored it to its pre-accident condition and, as a result, will be unwilling to pay as much for it. In other words, the damage results in a reduction in the car’s resale value. However, each vehicle must be assessed on its own merits and as long as it has some value prior to the accident, there is no minimum worth or maximum age that prevents it from having diminished value. In fact, older model cars that have been damaged and repaired may actually end up being worth more because many of the old parts have been replaced with new ones.
The point of having car insurance is to make sure you’ll be made whole following a loss. However, you and your insurance company may define the concept of “whole” very differently. A professional opinion as to any diminished value examines many factors such as:
- The market value of the vehicle prior to damage
- The year, make, and model of the vehicle
- Prior damage
- Marketability of title
- Amount of damage
- Location of damage
- Type of repairs performed.
The limitations period for this type of claim is two years from the date of the accident, so you must settle your claim or file suit against the other driver before the time has expired or you are forever barred from doing so. If the accident was your fault and you file a first-party claim under your own insurance policy, the diminution in value is generally not covered unless the policy has uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. When an accident was caused by the other party and a claim is made against that party’s insurance policy, it is called a third-party claim.
Under the law, there are three types of diminished value:
- Immediate Diminished Value: This is the loss of value which results immediately after an accident, before any repairs are made. It is the difference in market value immediately before and after an accident.
- Inherent Diminished Value: This refers to the loss of value of a vehicle that remains after it is completely and professionally repaired. It is the loss of value that results from the fact that the vehicle has been in an accident. It refers to the stigma that, given two identical vehicles on a car lot, the one never damaged is preferable to the one that has been damaged and repaired. This is the most commonly applied type.
- Repair-Related Diminished Value: This refers to the additional loss of value to a vehicle that results from incomplete or poorly-performed repairs. It could include simple cosmetic damages which remain after repair or major mechanical or structural deficiencies.
Not all vehicle wrecks can be tied up neatly, and you may find you need legal representation. The Kentucky diminution in value attorneys at the Johnson Law Firm offer free consultations to review the facts of your individual case and estimate whether the claim is worth pursuing. We can also help you find an independent appraiser to rebut the valuation if you believe your insurance company is offering an unfair loss in value amount. We take on the insurance companies so that you don’t have to, making every effort to maximize your compensation along the way. You can rely on our experience with the legal system and our commitment to our clients to help you get the best result possible given the circumstances of your case. Get started today with a free, no-obligation case review by calling 606-433-0682 or filling out this online form to discuss your rights. We handle accident claims from anywhere in Kentucky, with a concentration in Pikeville and surrounding areas.