In addition to medical, lost wages, and repair claims, you also might have a diminished value claim after a serious accident. Unfortunately, many injured Californians fail to file these claims or give up after the insurance company denies their diminished value claim. Before you walk away from valuable compensation, you should discuss your claim with an experienced attorney.
What Is a Diminished Value Claim?
During a collision, your car might sustain serious damage. Even after repairs, its value will be significantly lower than a comparable accident-free car. This is because:
- Replacement parts are not always the same quality as original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts,
- It’s sometimes impossible to return a vehicle to its pre-accident condition,
- Repairs can compromise and weaken your vehicle’s frame,
- There might be undiscovered (and unrepaired) damage to your car,
- Not all auto body and repair shops deliver high-quality repairs,
- A serious collision might void parts of your factory warranty,
- You cannot sell your vehicle in a manufacturer’s “certified pre-owned” program, and
- Buyers are hesitant to purchase vehicles that have sustained serious collision damage.
Because your car’s accident history is easily accessible via CARFAX and other systems, it’s difficult to hide its accident history. (It’s also illegal to conceal a vehicle’s collision damage.)
In California, you can file an insurance claim for your car’s diminished value after an accident. These claims are sometimes called “diminution of value” claims. After an accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy should compensate you for your vehicle’s decreased value. Computing your car’s diminished value is a complicated process that assesses its inherent diminished value, repair-related diminished value, and immediate diminished value.
California law also limits diminished value claims in several ways:
- You typically cannot file a diminished value claim against your own insurance company (if you were the at-fault driver), and
- Your claim is limited to the difference between your car’s fair market value and the cost of repairs.
If you need help computing your car’s diminished value, schedule a complimentary evaluation with Russell & Lazarus.
How Do I File a California Diminished Value Claim?
The first step towards compensation for your car’s diminished value is filing an insurance claim. This typically involves completing a series of forms and submitting evidence supporting your claim. However, you must file your diminished value claim within three years of the accident. If you miss this deadline, the court will automatically dismiss your case (and you will lose your right to compensation). If you need help with a diminished value claim, contact us for more information.
Insurance Companies Typically Deny Diminished Value Claims
Auto insurance companies are for-profit companies that are more worried about shareholder expectations than customer satisfaction. For this reason, your insurance adjuster might not notify you of your potential diminished value claim. And, even if you file a claim, the adjuster might quickly deny the claim (sometimes with minimal review or explanation). The insurance company is simply trying to reduce its costs and save money.
If the insurance company denies your claim (or gives you the runaround), you can file a diminished value lawsuit. At your trial, the judge will assess the evidence in your case and might award you compensation. However, before you handle a diminished value case on your own, consider speaking with an experienced attorney.
Consult With a Diminished Value Claim Attorney
At Russell & Lazarus, we will evaluate your diminished value claim as well as your other accident-related claims. If you sustained serious injuries in an Orange County auto accident, contact us for a free and confidential evaluation. Our offices are conveniently located in Newport Beach, Long Beach, and Riverside.