Based out of Portland, Oregon, Clark Law and Associates, handles diminished vehicle claims in Oregon and Washington State.
What is diminished vehicle value?
Diminished vehicle value can also be called Diminution in Vehicle Value. Diminished vehicle value is the economic loss in a vehicles value due to damage. Even though a vehicle is repaired after an auto accident, it may not have the same market value immediately after the auto accident as immediately before the auto accident. If your vehicle was worth more the day before the auto accident than after it was repaired, then your your vehicle incurred a diminution of vehicle value. Unlike depreciation, which is the predictable loss in value over the life of the vehicle due to normal use and wear and tear, diminished value of an automobile occurs suddenly due to accident or incident which damages the vehicle. Below are some of the types of diminished vehicle value:
Sub-par Repair-related Diminished Vehicle Value: Autobody shops don't always do a good job repairing vehicles. If the autobody work is substandard, the vehicle will be worth less after the repairs than it was worth before an auto accident. We at Clark Law & Associates, LLC recommend that you use your own auto body shop for repairs, as opposed to the insurance company's auto body shop.
Inherent Diminished Value Even if the repair work of the autobody shop is meets the best of professional standards, the resale value of a repaired vehicle may be less due to public perception due to the vehicle's damage history. A frame or structurally damaged vehicle usually cannot be advertised as a "certified pre-owned vehicle." While some may claim Diminished Value is based upon perception or speculation, perception is reality when determining market value. Diminution in Value is real because most people are not willing to pay the same price for a vehicle that has been wreck as one maintained in pristine condition. If retailers often offer discounts for items in which the item has been taken out of the box and then returned undamaged, it stands to reason that the value of a damaged motor vehicle will suffer a lessening in value after an auto accident.
How do I know if I have diminished vehicle value? Ultimately, the only way that you would know if you have diminished vehicle value after your vehicle has been repaired is if you obtain a report from a qualified auto appraiser. As a rule of thumb, if your vehicle is less than five years old and the accident-related repairs are extensive, it is likely that your vehicle has accident-related diminished value. However, a certified auto appraiser takes into account many factors, other than vehicle age and the repair cost.
Can I bring a diminished vehicle value claim if my vehicle has been declared a total loss? If your vehicle is a total loss then you would not bring a diminished vehicle value claim but a devalued vehicle claim. You are entitled to receive the market value of your vehicle before it was in the accident. If you believe the insurance company is giving you a low ball amount, you may want to obtain the services of a certified auto appraiser to determine the pre-accident value of your vehicle. If you want rough estimates of your vehicle, you can check Kelly Blue Book Values.
How do I prove that my vehicle has diminished value when dealing with the insurance company of the at-fault person who hit me?
Auto insurance companies routinely do not offer to pay for diminished vehicle value. To prove diminished vehicle value when dealing with the at-fault insurance company, one usually must hire an expert. An expert in diminished vehicle value will consider factors in evaluating the loss in value of a damaged and repaired vehicle including, but not be limited to, the vehicle type, the pre-loss condition, the extent of the damage, the vehicle's history, the quality of the repairs and values associated with pre-owned certification programs and warranties etcetera. We encourage our clients to hire the expert of their choice and give the diminished vehicle value report to their insurance company. Some clients hire an expert and are able to resolve the diminished vehicle value on their own with the use of an expert.
How do I prove that my vehicle has diminished value when dealing with my own insurance company?
The first step is to obtain a certified copy of the auto insurance policy that was in place at the time of the accident. Most Oregon Insurance policies have an appraisal clause that should be reviewed and used as a remedy.
When I settle my diminished vehicle value claim with the insurance company, should I sign a release?
Be careful about signing any releases in relation to your auto damage or diminished vehicle value claim, as you might foreclose your right to receive compensation for your personal injuries.
What can Clark Law & Associates, LLC do for you if you have a diminished vehicle value claim and an accident-related personal injury claim due to an at-fault driver?
If the insurance company gives a low-ball offer after receiving an expert report, then the diminished vehicle value claim can be added to your overall personal injury claim. Your personal injury claim and diminished vehicle value claim should be settled at the same time, to prevent the settlement one claim from barring settlement on the other.
What can an Oregon diminished vehicle value lawyer do for you if you only have a diminished vehicle value claim?
For those who just want an attorney to take care of them, we often forward the expert cost and accept diminished vehicle value claims on a contingency fee basis for claims in which the vehicle is less than 5 years old and the vehicle has had extensive repairs. In Oregon, if you suffered no personal injury and only have a diminished vehicle value claim for $10,000.00 or less, we at Clark Law and Associates, LLC can obtain an expert, draft demand letter package and threaten attorney's fees under ORS 20.080 if the case does not settled within 30 days and a lawsuit needs to be filed.
Many Oregon clients pay us hourly for putting together a demand package, as many cases settle after a formal demand package from an attorney. If the case settles, the hourly rates, are usually lower than the contingency percentage. If the case does not settle, a lawsuit can be filed and the fee arrangement can be switched to a contingency fee percentage. (Note: Terms and conditions of a signed fee agreement prevail over any statement on this website, as fee agreements are sometimes customized to the situation.)
If you are dealing with your own insurance company, a proof of loss conforming with ORS 742.061 should be sent as soon as possible to prevent statute of limitations issues. The statute allows for attorney's fees if 6 months passes and you still have not been reasonably compensated for your vehicle.
What can a Washington State diminished vehicle value lawyer do for you if you only have a diminished vehicle value claim?
For Washington State cases, an attorney can also make a demand to the insurance company using the attorney fee provision RCW 4.84.250. However, the attorney fee provision in Washington State is reciprocal, meaning that if the opposing party prevails, you are liable for their attorney's fees.
If I was at-fault for the accident in Oregon or Washington State, will Clark Law & Associates, LLC accept my diminished vehicle value claim? It depends on your auto insurance policy. Even if you have insurance that covers vehicle damage if you were at-fault for an accident, your policy may not cover diminished vehicle value. The first step would be to obtain a certified copy of your insurance policy that was in effect at the time of the accident to determine if your insurance policy covers diminished vehicle value.
If I was hit by an uninsured motorist in Oregon or Washington State will Clark Law & Associates, LLC consider accepting my diminished vehicle value claim? Yes. Provided that your insurance contract does not clearly preclude a diminished vehicle value claim in your insurance contract. See: Gonzales v. Farmers Ins. Co., 345 Ore. 382, 196 P.3d 1, 2008 Ore. LEXIS 965 (Or. 2008) Jose Gonzales v. Farmers The first step is to obtain a certified copy of your auto insurance policy that was in effect at the time of the accident.
Call (503) 238-1010 for a consultation. If an attorney does not answer the phone, a legal assistant will do an initial intake for attorney review and call you back. We do not accept phone or e-mail solicitations. Mere contact with our office does not form an attorney/client relationship.