Did your vehicle get crashed in the snow and ice storm? You Need to Know About Diminished Value..

The snow has been with us for a week now.  Roads are still littered with abandoned crashed vehicles.  Many of these vehicles appear to have minimal damage, but are stuck in deep snow and are difficult to get to.   Once the snow and ice melts these vehicles are going to flood local body shops.   Insurance companies are also going to be swamped with claims.   Many people will make only property damage claims.  If so, they may be leaving money on the table if they do not make a Diminished Value claim.    Below are some things you should know about Diminished value claims.


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 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 the 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.  You may also have a claim against the insurer that the Insurance Commissioner would be interested in investigating.  If you are making a claim against your own policy (uninsured motorist (think hit and run) or under-insured motorist) for diminished value then look at your insurance policy to determine if the policy covers diminished value.

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.