Diminished Value Legal Ruling

In October 2008 Paul O. bought a Jeep Wrangler X. On December 16th, 2008 Paul was involved in a motor vehicle accident with James H. James was insured with State Farm at the time. State Farm accepted liability on behalf of their client, and paid $15,614.- for the repairs of Paul’s Jeep.

After repairs, Paul submitted a claim for $8,975 to State Farm for the the loss in market value that was caused by the accident (Diminished Value), based on a report from Collision Consulting.

State Farm declined to negotiate this claim, as they believed that the diminished value doesn’t really exist, and isn’t provable. They claimed that Paul had not realized a financial loss. Paul didn’t accept this, and went to court.

In court James, through State Farm, and their attorneys, argued that:
– there was no diminished value, as Oliver didn’t sell his vehicle after the accident
– even if the diminished value would exist, the amount would not be known, as Paul’s car wasn’t sold

Paul, through his attorney, argued that selling the car wasn’t required to claim diminished value, and that the lost amount of market value could be determined through an appraisal by a qualified, independent expert.

The Court agreed with Paul, and awarded him the full amount of market value loss (diminished value).

James, State Farm, and their attorneys appealed, and the case went to Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court confirmed the earlier ruling, in favor of Paul.

Again James’ party appealed.

The Appellate Court ruled that “in general, the measure of damages for injury to personal property when it is not destroyed is the difference in the value of the property immediately before and immediately after the injury. When the property is repaired or restored, however, the measure of damages includes the cost of repair with due allowance for any difference between the value of the property before the damages and the value repairs, as well as the loss of use.”

The Appellate Court went on to state “we agree with Paul O. that public policy does not support the idea that a victim should be required to sell his vehicle in order to establish a claim for diminished value and to prove the amount of loss. As Paul O. notes, a victim may encounter difficulty selling the vehicle due to its accident history, which may occasion a delay in the sale and eventually cause natural depreciation to affect the sales price, especially if the damage vehicle was extensive.”

The Appellate court furthered that “even a vehicle’s actual sales price may not represent the vehicle’s fair market value, and expert appraisal would likely still need to be utilized to established a vehicle’s pre-loss value.”

With the help of Collision Consultants of Washington’s Diminished Value Report, and our expert witness testimony, Paul O. got what he deserved, a fair compensation for the loss in market value (diminished value) of his car.

So, if your insurance company tells you that diminished value doesn’t exists, or cannot be determined, they are wrong.