In Louisiana, the aftermath of an automobile accident can be a daunting experience, especially when it comes to property damage and the subsequent repairs. While physical injuries and property damage are the most immediate concerns, there’s another aspect of car accidents that many people may not be aware of and that’s the concept of – diminution of value. Diminution of value refers to the reduction in the re-sale or market value of your vehicle following the repairs due to an accident. Understanding the legal framework, requirements, and recovery process for a diminution of value claim is crucial.
To help understand, stop and imagine that you are looking to buy a used car. You find two cars that are exactly the same year, make, model, mileage, color, and the same price $20,000. Now, imagine that the 1st car has never been involved in any accidents, but the 2nd car was and had $10,000 of repairs. Would you pay $20,000 for that 2nd car? No and you probably won’t buy it. But, if you did, then you would buy it for a lot less-like $15,000 because you are reducing the price for the diminished value that the 2nd car has due to its being involved in an accident with $5,000 of repairs. That’s what diminution of value is.
Luckily, Louisiana law and cases clearly recognizes the rights of a vehicle owner to seek compensation for the diminution in value of their automobile after it has been repaired from an accident. In fact, Louisiana Revised Statute 2800.17 entitled “Liability for the diminution in the value of a damaged vehicle” specifically provides that “Whenever a motor vehicle is damaged through the negligence of a third-party without being destroyed, and if the owner can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that, if the vehicle were repaired to its pre-loss condition, its fair market value would be less than its value before it was damaged, the owner of the damaged vehicle shall be entitled to recover as additional damages an amount equal to the diminution in the value of the vehicle. Notwithstanding, the total damages recovered by the owner shall not exceed the fair market value of the vehicle prior to when it was damaged, and the amount paid for the diminution of value shall be considered in determining whether a vehicle is a total loss pursuant to R.S. 32:702.”
However, pursuing such claims requires a comprehensive understanding of the legal requirements and the intricacies of the process. The following requirements must be met to file a diminution of value claim:
- Liability: The other party must be at fault for the accident, and their negligence caused damage to your vehicle.
- Repairs Have Been Made: Repairs to your vehicle must be completed to restore it to its pre-accident condition.
- Documentation: Proper documentation of repair costs and diminished value is essential. Keep records of the property damage estimates, repair invoices, photographs, and any other supporting evidence.
- Expert Opinion: In most cases, you need an expert’s opinion, such as a certified appraiser, to determine the diminished value of your vehicle after the repairs have been made. This assessment considers factors such as the extent of the damage, cost of repairs, quality of the repairs, and vehicle’s pre-accident market value.
- Timeliness: A Claim for diminution of value must be filed within one year of the accident in Louisiana.
As you can see, recovering compensation for diminution of value in Louisiana involves navigating a series of steps that require careful attention to detail and adherence to legal procedures and requirements. Navigating the complex landscape of diminution of value claims in Louisiana requires a thorough understanding of the legal requirements, diligent documentation, and, in some cases, expert testimony. Being aware of the necessary steps and seeking professional guidance can significantly improve the chances of obtaining fair compensation for the diminished value of your automobile. With the right approach and proper legal representation, You can ensure that your rights are protected in the aftermath of an automobile accident involving property damage repairs. Your vehicle’s value matters, and you have the right to seek compensation for any lost worth resulting from an accident caused by another party’s negligence.
At Kiefer and Kiefer, our New Orleans car accident attorneys fight hard for our clients’ right to compensation for any diminution in the value of their vehicle after being damaged in an automobile accident. Call today to schedule your consultation.