Can You Recover the Lost Value of Your Car with a Diminished Value Claim?
What to do when the Value of Your Car Decreases After an Accident
When you are the victim of a serious automobile accident, you will likely sue for damages relating to your injuries and/or pain and suffering. Assuming the insurance company does not declare your vehicle to be a total loss, your automobile insurer will pay for the repairs to your vehicle. But what about the “diminished value” of your vehicle? Read on to learn more about what to do from Flaherty & Fardo, some of PA’s most trusted lawyers.
What is Diminished Value?
Assume that, prior to an accident, your vehicle had a fair market value of $45,000. You are then in a serious accident, which nearly totals your car, but the insurance company decides to repair it. You receive your vehicle back after repairs are completed, and it looks just as it did before the accident. The day you receive it back, you decide to trade it in. To your surprise, you automobile that was just worth $45,000 is now worth $30,000 due to the vehicle being involved in a serious accident. This is diminished value.
In today’s world, anyone can find out with the click of a button whether a vehicle has been in an accident by obtaining a Carfax History Report. The Carfax History Report will show all accidents the vehicle was in, and also what the current fair market value is for the vehicle.
Shouldn’t You be Compensated for Diminished Value?
You have now suffered a financial loss. Virtually all policies of automobile insurance in Pennsylvania restrict your right of recovery to the actual repair cost of returning the car to “substantially” the same condition it was in before the accident. These insurance companies use specific policy language to prevent this sort of claim against themselves. Pennsylvania law is not clear, however, on whether the other driver’s insurance carrier may be responsible for reimbursing you the diminished value to your vehicle. The Plaintiff in a claim for diminished value must first persuade the jury or the fact finder that the vehicle’s value has been diminished despite the fact that it was “fully” repaired (there are expert witnesses who specialize in this information for a fee).
Once this fact is proven by the Plaintiff, it is up to the Court to decide whether or not the other driver’s insurance company will be responsible for paying the Plaintiff the diminished value to the vehicle. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has not clearly decided this issue, so it is not certain whether diminished value is a proper claim for damages here. We intend to represent these Plaintiffs and help establish this burden of proof.
The Law is Split on Diminished Value Claims
The law is split in other states regarding diminished value. In Georgia, the Supreme Court specifically recognized diminished value as a proper claim. However, in New Mexico, the Supreme Court specifically rejects this. The Massachusetts Supreme Court, in Gov’t Emples. Ins. Co. v. Bloodworth, found that tort principles of recovery clearly apply in these types of situations, where a Plaintiff should be made “whole.” The Court holds that being compensated for diminished value is part of becoming “whole.”
Although the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has yet to make a clear decision on diminished value, there is nothing to lose by making a request for a payment. For support and a free consultation in your diminished value claim, contact Flaherty & Fardo - some of Pennsylvania’s most trusted attorneys who seek justice for you.