How do I calculate the diminished value of my car after an accident?
In the context of a car accident case, “diminished value” refers to the difference between what your car was worth before the crash occurred, and what it is worth after it has been repaired.
The rationale behind a diminished value claim is that on the free market, someone who wanted to buy your car would probably be willing to pay less after the vehicle has been in an accident than they would have paid had the accident not occurred, even though the car has been repaired.
You might be entitled to recover “diminished value” from the at-fault driver (or from his or her car insurance company) as part of your compensable damages after a car accident, as long as your car has been significantly damaged and is a newer model. For a minor accident, or any crash involving an older car, you’re probably not going to be successful in making a diminished value claim.
To calculate the diminished value of your car, you may need to retain an expert witness, or at least obtain reliable inspection and repair reports from professionals -- people who can examine your car and offer an opinion on the impact that the vehicle damage and subsequent repairs have had on its value.
In some diminished value claims, part of your argument may be that inferior parts were used to repair your vehicle, and if your car had not been in the accident in the first place, it would still have all factory parts installed, and it would not have lost value.