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  4.  — My car is not totaled, can I recover for the loss in value? Diminution in value

My car is not totaled, can I recover for the loss in value? Diminution in value

On Behalf of | Dec 4, 2011 | Firm News

If your vehicle has been damaged in an automobile accident, but no so much damage as to total the vehicle (more than 75% of the vehicle’s worth in damage is a “total” by law) then the adverse insurance will pay for repairs to your vehicle.  These repairs should be done so that your vehicle is repaired to industry standards.  The issue discussed here is although your vehicle is now repaired, how can you recover for the loss in value to your vehicle due to the repairs?

First, if your vehicle repairs are in excess of 25% of the total market value of your vehicle it must be disclosed to any potential buyer by law.  Therefore, common sense says that if by law you must disclose this damage then the potential buyer will pay you far less for your vehicle.  This loss in value is called diminution in value in the law. The jury instructions, what the judge tells the jury the law is in North Carolina prior to jury deliberations, is a good place to start when determining how to value your loss.

Property Damages: Diminution In Market Value

The plaintiff’s actual property damages are equal to the difference between the fair market value of the property immediately before it was damaged and its fair market value immediately after it was damaged.  The fair market value of any property is the amount which would be agreed upon as a fair price by an owner who wishes to sell, but is not compelled to do so, and a buyer who wishes to buy, but is not compelled to do so. If evidence is introduced regarding the actual or estimated cost of repair, the following paragraph should be used:  Evidence of estimates of the cost to repair and the actual cost of repairing the damage to the plaintiff’s property may be considered by you in determining the difference in fair market value immediately before and immediately after the damage occurred.

The jury is instructed as to the definition of market value and told how to consider repairs and told they can consider the repairs when determining the amount of loss in value.  The jury is also told to consider not that the victim should be given the value of the vehicle to them, or how many payments they made, but instead what two people would negotiate the value to be if they were not forced to negotiate.  In other words, market value is not what a car dealership would sell the vehicle for nor what someone who is forced to sell their vehicle would sell it for, instead it is what two people would buy and sell the vehicle for if they were not forced to do so.

Experts Can Help Determine Value Of Loss

The value of the vehicle after the repairs is often best determined by an expert.  Experts help determine the value of the loss.  The problem with using car dealerships for value is they have built in increased in value to make a profit on the sale.  This profit is not typically seen as part of the normal market value of a vehicle. Please remember, you must request diminution in value from the adjuster or they typically will not volunteer this amount is owed.


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