Being involved in a car crash is an incredibly stressful experience, and one that can have a number of lasting ramifications. Aside from the physical trauma that can occur, there are also matters of property damage that must be addressed. Your physical health is, of course, the first priority, but the damage done to your vehicle is also important. Your vehicle will never be the same after an auto accident, and you deserve compensation for any loss in function or value. Claiming diminished value is one method of seeking that compensation, and is a matter that is far too often overlooked during the process of dealing with insurance companies and restoring normalcy in the aftermath of an accident.
What is Diminished Value?
Once your vehicle is involved in a serious accident, its value will be automatically reduced. This is due to the fact that consumer regulations have strengthened over the years, and it is now a requirement to disclose any damage done to a vehicle. Both car dealerships and individual sellers are required to comply, and technology has made it very easy for potential buyers to research vehicles prior to making an offer. In some cases, damage is noted on the vehicle’s title, and there is now a box to check that asks about accident damage that exceeds 25 percent of the vehicle’s value. Dealerships are now required to provide a written record of damage that exceeds the 25 percent threshold. Services such as Carfax allow buyers to research a vehicle’s accident history on their own. All of these resources mean that your car will be less appealing to buyers after an accident, as compared to similar vehicles that have no damage. That difference is known as diminished value.
How is Diminished Value Claimed?
The first step in making a claim for diminished value is to get an idea of the loss of value that resulted from the accident. That can occur through simple market research, or a professional appraisal of value. Having that estimate in hand empowers you to negotiate with the insurance company as to the proper level of compensation. If the insurer refuses to pay a fair amount for the diminished value of the vehicle, and difference in the estimate between your estimate and the insurance company’s estimate is greater than $2000 or more than 25% of the fair market value of the vehicle prior to the accident, then it is time to issue a written demand to compel the insurer to obtain their own appraisal. At that point, both the vehicle owner and the insurance company will select appraisers to prepare a written estimate of loss of value. If there is a significant difference in the opinions of those appraisers, then they will be asked to agree on a third appraiser called an umpire to review their work and make a judgment on the lost value. If neither party rejects that evaluation, then the determined loss of value becomes binding on all parties.
Claiming diminished value can be a complicated process, and working with the insurance provider is not always simple or straightforward. That is why many North Carolina residents who are involved in a car crash choose to work with a personal injury attorney who is well versed in the less common aspects of property damage claims, including claiming diminished value as a result of a serious auto accident.
Greenville, NC Auto Accident Attorneys
I am a longtime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.