As an Oregon Personal Injury Attorney I am often confronted with various issues that are caused by a car crash. Dealing with insurance companies, trying to get medical bills paid, and trying to get lost wages paid are all pretty common. However, there is also another claim that pops-up every so often. This is the "diminished value claim."
These claims are more and more common these days and should be pursued if the economics make sense. There are numerous little nuances that should guide a person in considering filing a diminished value claim, but below are just a few things that should assist you:
What is a Diminished Value Claim? Diminished Value claims arise after a vehicle has been damaged by the negligence of another (usually a bad driver.) The claim arises from the fact that a vehicle that has been in a crash is now worth less than a vehicle that has not been in a crash. The diminished value is the difference between what the vehicle was worth before the crash and what the vehicle is worth now.
How Much Can I Get On A Diminished Value Claim? The amount varies. To determine the amount of the claim an expert will look at how much the car is worth immediately after the crash compared to how much it was worth immediately before the crash. For example, a 2 day Bentley that was in a crash may be worth $120,000.00 before the crash and now it is only worth $80,000.00 after it has been repaired. The diminished value claim would be $40,000.00. However, things change if you change the type and the age of the vehicle. Now picture a 1999 Ford F-150 that is barely running before the crash. The truck maybe worth $1500.00 on a good day. The truck is in a crash and professionally repaired, now it probably is worth roughly the same because it did not have much value to diminish in the first place.
What Variables Affect The Amount I can Get From A Diminished Value Claim? Each claim is unique, but usually vehicle make, model, year are important. Also, the damage to the vehicle is important. Whether or not OEM (Factory) parts were used is a variable that can be taken into account.
How Is The Diminished Value Determined? Experts that are usually people that have worked in the automotive repair industry for years render an opinion regarding the diminished value. They are usually paid a fee for their work and can provide you a report regarding their findings and the amount of the diminished value. Some Portland Oregon Body shops will offer to render a Diminished Value Opinion for a fee.
Who Do I Make A Diminished Value Claim To? If you handle the claim yourself you should make the claim to the Insurer of bad driver that damaged your car.
The Insurance Company Says They Don't Recognize Diminished Value Claims? I have heard from clients that attempted to make a diminished value claim that the bad driver's insurance company claims they don't recognize Diminished Value Claims. That may be the case, but Oregon Law recognizes these as valid legal claims. What this means is if the insurance company claims they are not going to pay out because they have a policy of not honoring diminished value claims you can file a lawsuit seeking damages for the diminished value and may have a claim against the insurer that the Insurance Commissioner would be interested in investigating.
My Diminished Value Claim Is Not Worth Much, Should I Pursue It? It depends. Some claims for diminished value may only be a couple of thousand dollars. Usually these small claims are not filed because people believe the case is too small for an attorney to take. However, Oregon has laws that enable attorney's to get paid on small cases under $10,000.00. I have written a blog article on ORS 20.080 and if you have a small Diminished Value Case you should read the article and call me at 503.224.1658 if needed.
Do Attorneys Represent People in Diminished Value Cases? Yes, but it is not always necessary. Some claims may be viable small claims court actions. However, the insurance company will likely attempt to remove the case from small claims. I represent people with smaller diminished value claims. See my blog article on small cases in Oregon for more information.
How Do Attorneys Get Paid In Diminished Value Cases? Most attorneys get paid on a contingency fee. However it depends on the amount of the claim. If there is a large amount of diminished value then it may make sense to pay an attorney hourly. If their is a small diminished value claim that is risky the lawyer may want you to pay an hourly fee. I take almost all diminished value cases on a contingency fee. What that means is I do not get my attorney fees paid unless we win the case.
Do Diminished Value Cases Apply To Bicycles? It may, but it depends. A newer unique expensive bikes can be damaged in a small crash with a motor vehicle. These often happen in minor crashes (For example if you were "doored" at a low speed.) If the frame or other parts are slightly bent, but the bike still functions there may be a viable diminished value claim. However if the bike is a run of the mill off the shelf bike (think $1500.00 or less) then most likely you are not going to have a viable diminished value claim.
Why Didn't You Answer My Question About Diminished Value Cases In Oregon? As I said earlier, there are numerous issues that can arise in these cases. Please Call me if you have a question. Call Portland Personal Injury Law Firm Ross Law LLC at 503.224.1658.
If you or someone you know has been in a car crash and is injured or their car was damaged feel free to call me, Jeremiah Ross, at 503.224.1658 for your free personal injury or diminished value consultation. Please remember the law is constantly changing and this blog post should not be used as a basis for filing a diminished value claim. Please look at the law or discuss your case with an attorney.