Diminished value of a car after a wreck
Attorney Tom Olsen: What about diminished value after you have an automobile accident? I mean a few years ago insurance companies were not reimbursing for diminished value, but these days I think they are. And diminished value meaning that they may repair you car perfectly but the very fact that it's been in an accident - and the next buyer down the road knows it has been in an accident - it's going to make your car worth less.
Attorney Colonel Airth: Yes, that is correct. And that's exactly how it works. You look at a BMW, there are two of them, they're exactly the same color and looked exactly alike, exactly the same miles, same condition, same everything, but one of them has been in an accident. Well, the one that hasn't been in an accident you can suppose it's worth $15,000. The one that has been in a accident looks exactly the same, etc., is only worth $12,000. $3,000 different. That's diminished value.
It comes about because we are so computer literate these days that people know more about cars. And everything that happens seems like is known by somebody and that's the diminished value. Theoretically, if you haven't had an at fault action now your own insurance company will not pay you diminished value. Your own insurance company, as a general rule, has two obligations. That is to repair it to substantially the same condition or pay you the actual cash value for the car if it's been totaled. If they repair it, that's the maximum they're supposed to do and you're done.
If you have by chance have coverage to get a rental vehicle while it's being fixed then they have to pay that too. But that's their obligation. An at fault driver on the other hand has same obligation, that is to either repair or give you the actual cash value. But also loss of use, and also diminished value. Insurance companies hate diminished value but that, generally speaking, is a matter of proof. When you get that proof, from the internet because it's full of things about comparing cars and what's happened to them, that's how you take information. Or maybe go to your car dealer and he will tell what the values are.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay. Colonel we were talking about diminished value about automobile accidents, so that when your car has been in an accident the insurance company may pay perfectly to repair it and yet your car is worth less now, because it's been in an accident before. But let's just say that I'm the innocent party, let's just say that I've been in an accident, no fault of my own. My insurance company pays to repair my car. Could I still then go after the other driver's insurance company for that diminished value?
Attorney Colonel Airth: Yes, I think you can, plus the loss of use if you didn't get that from your own company. I do think that's a valid cause of action. The proof is what usually is the difficult thing, but it's there and you I have to find it and present it.
Attorney Tom Olsen: Is that something that somebody might do in small claims court by themselves?
Attorney Colonel Airth: Yes, small claims court is an excellent way to do that.