When someone else causes a collision that damages your vehicle, the insurance company will either repair the car or “total” it. If the insurance company determines that it’s more cost effective to simply repair the car, then it will make a money offer to repair the vehicle. You have two options: let them repair it at a shop of their choosing or accept the money and get it fixed yourself. But what happens next? Your car will never be quite the same. It’s been in a wreck. You know it will not sell for as much, and it will forever have a negative Carfax report. So, what can you do? Enter the inherent diminished value claim.
What is Diminished Value?
Missouri law says that the appropriate value of damages caused by a negligent defendant is the difference between the repaired value and the value before the damage occurred. In other words, if the vehicle was worth $10,000 prior to the collision, but it is now only worth about $6,000 even after being fully repaired by the insurance company, then the defendant (and his or her insurance company) still owes you the difference – $4,000.
When to Claim Diminished Value
Not all cases are right for diminished value. First, if you have an older model vehicle with high mileage, you will likely not be entitled to much diminished value. But newer, late model vehicles and those that are higher value vehicles may be perfect for making such a claim. For instance, a two-year-old Mercedes with low miles may have a value of $60,000 prior to a collision. After the collision, it may lose significant value and be worth as little as $20,000. This is especially true in the case of pick-up trucks that are used in businesses and high-end luxury vehicles. After all, no one wants to buy a truck that may have unresolved problems or frame damage. And those who can afford luxury cars rarely want to purchase a salvage. Wrecked cars are forever tainted and never sell as well. This drives down their value, leaving the owner with a substantial loss in equity.
How to File a Diminished Value Claim
The first step is working with a lawyer who knows how to get the diminished value assessed. At the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm, we will consult with industry experts who can build a report based on comparable sales in the region. Using careful analytical tools, our experts will help to establish the true pre- and post-crash values of the vehicle. We assist clients in negotiating fair settlements for property damage claims. If the insurance company won’t make a reasonable offer, there may be times when it’s appropriate to take the matter to trial and ask a jury to award compensation, just as with other types of cases.
Get Help With a Missouri Diminished Value Case
Throughout Kansas City, the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm helps injury victims recover for their lost income, property damages, expensive medical bills, and pain and suffering. If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle crash, call or visit us online today to see how we can help.
Robert Kinsman is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Robert Kinsman is passionate about normalizing the life of his clients after they have been seriously injured. Learn more about his experience here.