Car Law A to Z: D is for Diminished Value


Two identical vehicles—one is in a wreck the other is not.  When the time comes to sell each vehicle which one do you believe is more likely to be worth less money?  And how much of a difference—in dollars and cents—will there be in the ultimate selling price?

If your vehicle is damaged and you have it repaired, you have the right to make a claim for the fact that your vehicle is now worth less than what it would be if it was not damaged.  This difference is called diminished value.  You should make your diminished value claim to the insurance company within 30 days after repairs are completed.

There is no mathematical or legally recognized formula to calculate how much you would be entitled to but you should contact 1 or 2 local dealers and get a statement (written if possible) of how much they would pay to purchase your vehicle based on the fact it has sustained damage. The more damage, the less they or any buyer would pay for your vehicle hence the diminished value of your vehicle.

Another good idea is to contact an experienced diminished value appraiser who can inspect your vehicle and help you formulate a demand for diminished value.  Pictures and a written report can help you build your case and allow you to recoup some of the money you stand to lose if you sell the vehicle in the future and must disclose the vehicle’s damage.

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