Diminished value is the difference in the value of your car directly before and directly after collision repairs have been completed. After being repaired, your car has a bad Carfax or other vehicle history report. This is known as Inherent Diminished Value. Used-car buyers in California prefer to purchase cars that were never previously damaged so your car, by comparison, is less appealing, making it worth less. If there was frame/unibody damage or air bag deployment it is worth a lot less. How to apply for a diminished value claim in California? You can make a third-party diminished value claim against the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident. The first step is to obtain an automobile diminished value appraisal from a licensed automobile appraiser and diminished value expert. The St. Lucie Appraisal Company services California by providing automobile diminished value reports and expert witness testimony for owners of damaged vehicles. You may call 772-359-4300 or email us at contact@autodiminishedvalue,com if you have questions or need more information about diminished value in California.
CACI 3903J – Damage to Personal Property (Economic Damage) The harm to plaintiff’s automobile.
To recover damages for harm to personal property, plaintiff must prove the reduction in the automobile’s value or the reasonable cost of repairing it, whichever is less. If there is evidence of both, plaintiff is entitled to the lesser of the two amounts.
However, if you find that the automobile can be repaired, but after repairs it will be worth less than it was before the harm, the damages are:
(1) the difference between its value before the harm and its lesser value after the repairs have been made; plus
(2) the reasonable cost of making the repairs. The total amount awarded may not exceed the automobile’s value before the harm occurred.
Questions and Answers about Diminished Value in California
Q: What is Inherent Diminished Value?
A: The term “inherent diminished value” describes a stigma loss whereby potential buyers of used cars will naturally prefer to purchase vehicles that were never involved in collisions to those that were previously repaired.
Q: In California, you can only file a Third-Party Diminished Value Claim. What is a Third-Party claim?
A: This expression means that you are making a claim against the insurance company of the person responsible for causing the damage to your car rather than against your own insurer which are known as First-Party claims. This is important to know because many insurance companies will try to say that California case law prohibits diminished value claims. While that may be true in First-Party claims, there is no case law that addresses third-party claims. They are covered under the property damage portion of the at-fault drivers automobile insurance policy.
“Automobile insurance policy” means a policy providing Third-Party coverage for property damage liability. “Diminished value” means the actual or perceived loss in market value or resale value which results from a direct or accidental loss. Diminished value is an element of property damage under an automobile insurance policy for Third-Party claims. It should not bar the right of the claimant to promptly assert a claim for diminished value if the diminished value was directly caused by the accident
Q: How is The St. Lucie Appraisal Company different from other appraisers independent appraisers that prepare automobile diminished value reports?
A: Virtually every independent appraisal company working in the field of auto diminished value in California either relies on formulas or “algorithms” based on severity of damage, mileage, etc., online ad comparisons or simply offer their “expert opinions.” Insurance adjusters routinely downgrade these types of reports for different reasons, primarily because they are so easy to challenge in court.
Formulas such as State Farm’s Rule 17c use what is called “damage modifiers” that assign points according to severity of damage and mileage. Auto diminished value appraisers using this formula must, naturally, use higher modifiers than insurance companies would. This simply creates a controversy over whose formula is right. The same goes for so-called algorithms.
The St. Lucie Appraisal Company obtains its data directly from the pre-owned managers at automobile dealerships – the people directly responsible for buying the trade-ins. In our query, the year, make, model, mileage, color options, amount and nature of damages is discussed. Based on that information, a dealer can determine exactly how much less he would pay for the car. We compile six dealer quotes and by averaging their deductions, our automobile diminished value figures are created. It is clearly noted in our reports that all of the dealers queried are told that the subject vehicles are not available for purchase or trade, therefore, none of the dealers queried have any vested interest in the subject vehicles. Our clients receive much fairer treatment from insurers.
Q: Do I need an attorney to file an automobile diminished value claim on my behalf?
A: You may elect to hire a lawyer that specializes in California diminished value cases from the outset but you can also file your automobile diminished value claim yourself. Our reports usually result in satisfactory claim settlements, however, after submitting your report to the insurance company, if you feel that their offer is inadequate or you are being treated unfairly, that would be the time to hire a lawyer to work on your behalf. It should be noted that our experience testifying as an expert witness has resulted in insurance companies being ordered to pay for the independent appraisal fee, the expert witness fee and for the claimant attorney’s fee in addition to the full amount of the diminished value.
Q: In what states are St. Lucie Appraisal’s services available?
A: Our automobile diminished value appraisals are sought after by car owners all over the country. We provide automobile diminished value reports in Northern and Southern California as well as in all 50 states.
Q: Does the independent appraiser need to physically inspect my repaired vehicle?
A: With regard to hiring an appraiser for a personal inspection your car, everyone should be aware that a physical inspection of the repaired car is completely unnecessary and only serves to line the appraiser’s pocket as you will be charged more for their service. The car is fixed. There’s nothing to see. In the case of REPAIR-RELATED diminished value, which is a loss of value because of shoddy repairs, a physical inspection is, indeed, necessary. Your claim, and 99% of diminished value claims, represent INHERENT DIMINISHED VALUE and only allege a loss of value because the vehicle now has a repair history or bad Carfax.
Q: The insurance company has made an offer for diminished value. Am I required to accept it?
A: Our recommendation – Do not accept an insurer’s Automobile Diminished Value settlement offer without first obtaining an appraisal from an independent appraiser. Because once you’ve signed and accepted the insurance company’s offer, the door to your receiving a fair settlement is closed.
Hire a Licensed Diminished Value Appraiser in California
The St. Lucie Appraisal Co. provided me with an estimate of the diminished value of my brand new Subaru Outback post repair to industry standards, after it was sideswiped along the entire left side of the auto while parked in front of my home.
I could not be more pleased by my experience with this business than I am. After submitting all the particulars needed for the appraisal, turnaround time was unbelievably fast—just about 24 hours. Communication with the firm was personal, responsive and just excellent. The report was well formatted. The price was more than reasonable—I would have paid more, considering what I got. The analytical approach and methodology used in preparing the report I believe to be sound as it is based on the actual combined and averaged opinions of 6 Subaru Used Car Managers from my region of the country. These individuals are professionals, specialists in making these determinations, who do so on a daily basis, and do so successfully under actual real life market conditions. Therefore, this yields a report that is highly credible and has substantial evidential weight should the matter eventually need to be adjudicated.
The St. Lucie Appraisal Co. has my unqualified endorsement with regard to the area of diminished value auto claims, and I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone needing help in this area.
That recent review sums up our goals, our process and the way our customers feel after using our services. Our appraisal figures represent what the vehicle will encounter in the real world of used cars. It is the used car managers at dealerships who provide the most realistic assessment of values because automobile dealers are the ones purchasing and re-selling the vehicles. Our reports list each dealer, their estimation of how much less they would pay because of the bad CARFAX and any pertinent comments such as how different variables affected their decisions. Although it is more time consuming than using a formula, algorithm, auction results or ad comparison approach, it’s a far superior method by which accuracy can be obtained.
So be aware. Knowledge is power. Diminished value appraisal figures should represent what the vehicle will encounter in the real world of used cars. If you’d like hire us to prepare an appraisal for diminished value or a total loss dispute in California, or if you have any questions, please feel free to call us.
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