Diminished Value Appraisals…Are They Worth the $$$?

If your vehicle is damaged and repaired after an accident, you may have what’s called a diminished value claim, meaning your car might be worth less than it was before the accident and you might be entitled to compensation for that. So how do you know?

As with most things in this business, you never really know. You might have certain factors that strengthen or weaken your claim, but you never really know for sure. So let’s talk about how these claims work.

First, I will say that in my experience, if your car is older than 5 years and/or has greater than 50k miles on it, you’re probably putting good money after bad trying to pursue a DV claim. Can it work? Maybe. But are you more likely than not just spinning your wheels? I think so. But having said that, there’s more to it…

The main thing you should know is these claims are expert-driven, which means that your ability to prevail is very much dependent on what your nominated expert says as to the lost in value to your vehicle. Who is your expert? Is it you? Is it your uncle who is a used car salesman? Is it Carmax? Is it a licensed appraiser? Who is saying what you’ve lost makes a HUGE difference in these claims.

The gold standard for DV claims is having a licensed appraiser document in writing what their opinion as to the loss of value is. People ask me all the time if the appraisals are worth it and the thing is, I can never answer that before the claim is resolved. I really can’t say for sure. But what I can say for sure is that you’re FAR more likely to get some sort of semi-reasonable offer WITH such an appraisal than you are without. So in that sense, I think they’re worth it. But that would also be affected by the inherent strength of your claim (see the age/mileage note above). Another way to state this is that if you just show a Carmax offer to buy your car and you say, “Hey, that’s less than I thought it was!” then you probably won’t be taken as seriously as you would be if you paid for an appraisal.

Of course, there are other factors to consider. Was your car just off the lot? That actually hurts, because new cars always drop in value immediately, so while you have an argument there, it’s a little weaker than it would be if your car was about a year off the lot. That’s kind of the sweet spot for these claims. Did you have another accident a few weeks after this one? That’s probably a killer there. Was the car a salvaged vehicle? Good luck with that. Was it just a bumper replacement? That’s a tough argument.

As with lots of stuff, it’s complicated. I can’t always say that a DV appraisal will be worth it, but in the right circumstances it can take an arguable claim to a very solid one. Talk to a trustworthy attorney about your facts and get some good advice. Talk to me. 919-929-2992.

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Jeffrey Allen Howard, Attorney at Law, PLLC
1829 E. Franklin St. - Bldg 600
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