After an accident, you may be surprised to find that your vehicle has suddenly lost value, even though you had it fully repaired by a qualified professional. Known as diminished value, the frustrating phenomenon of having your car lose worth simply because it was involved in a collision is due to the fact that most buyers are unwilling to pay full market price for a vehicle that's been in a crash. As a result, your car may now be worth significantly less than it once was.
However, because California is a diminished value state, if your vehicle lost value because it was damaged in an accident caused by another person or entity's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault party. The three main types of diminished value are:
- Immediate diminished value. This is the difference between the car's resale or trade-in value before the accident and after the accident-related damages have been repaired.
- Inherent diminished value. This type of value loss occurs when a vehicle damaged in a crash is repaired to its original condition, but is still considered to have decreased in worth as a result of the accident.
- Repair-related diminished value. Not all vehicle repairs are created equally. In cases of repair-related diminished value, the car's value drops due to the quality of its repairs. This doesn't necessarily mean that the repair work was shoddy, but may indicate the use of generic or aftermarket parts.
The California Jury Instructions discuss the aspect of diminished value and repair of a vehicle. One instruction reads in part as follows:
"However, if you find that the [automobile] can be repaired, but after repairs it will be worth less than it was before the harm, the damages are (1) the difference between its value before the harm and its lesser value after the repairs have been made; plus (2) the reasonable cost of making the repairs. The total amount awarded may not exceed the [automobile]’s value before the harm occurred."
If you've sold the vehicle, calculating the diminished value can be as simple as determining the difference between the car's value before the accident and it's lower resale price, plus the cost of the repairs. Otherwise, comparing the vehicle's previous value to a trade-in offer from a dealership—or using an online diminished value calculator—can give you an idea of what your diminished value claim may be worth.
Consult an Experienced Attorney About Your Diminished Value Claim
At the Inland Empire Law Group, our skilled personal injury attorneys have helped numerous accident victims collect fair compensation for their personal injuries, and to help them with the diminished value of their vehicle. Contact us at (909) 481-0100 or (888) 694-3529 today to schedule a free initial case consultation to learn how we can assist you.