Most states do not allow drivers to pursue compensation for the diminished value of their vehicle following a crash, but Alabama is a diminished value state. Under case law such as Robbins v. Voigt (1966), victims of traffic accidents can include the cost of their vehicle’s lost value in their insurance claim or lawsuit.
You may be able to pursue this type of compensation as long as you can prove the other party caused the crash, you suffered property damages, and you have not yet signed a settlement agreement. If you are working with a car accident attorney, they can handle this for you.
What Is a Diminished Value Claim?
When your vehicle suffers damage in a collision, even a repair with original parts and a perfect paint job will not be enough to erase the fact that the car required repairs. Carfax and other similar options make it easy for potential buyers to learn your car’s history quickly. This means they will likely not pay as much for it as they would for another vehicle that was not involved in a collision.
This is where the diminished value claim comes in. You can collect compensation for this decrease in value. There are generally three types of diminished value after an accident:
- Immediate diminished value is the difference in the value of the car before the accident occurred and after it is repaired.
- Inherent diminished value relates to the loss of value because of the crash.
- Repair-related diminished value stems from repair work that hurts the value of the vehicle.
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Calculating the Diminished Value of Your Vehicle
Under Alabama case law, the value of these claims is the difference between the fair market value of the vehicle immediately before the accident and the market value afterward. It can be difficult, however, to establish a fair market value of a car.
When an insurance carrier calculates an offer for a diminished value claim, they usually try to reduce the stated value of the vehicle before the crash. This allows them to offer less compensation for these losses, saving their bottom line but not fairly compensating the victim for their losses.
The difficulty of proving a fair market value is one reason why many people work with accident attorneys on these cases. Your attorney may work with experts to establish the previous value of your vehicle and the value of your losses.
Filing a Diminished Value Claim in Alabama
You can file a diminished value claim against the at-fault motorist who caused your Alabama accident. This may require filing an insurance claim based on their auto insurance policy or suing the driver for these damages.
In general, Alabama law may allow you to pursue damages in this type of case when:
- Another party caused the accident.
- The damage to your vehicle occurred due to the collision.
- You have the mandatory auto insurance required by Alabama law.
On the other hand, the court may bar you from filing this type of case and pursuing compensation if you caused the crash, the damages came from another incident, or you were an uninsured motorist when the collision occurred.
While you can contact the at-fault driver’s insurer and navigate the claims process on your own, this is not always easy or straightforward. You will need to gather evidence and protect your own rights carefully as you move forward with your claim. This would be especially true if your case was more complex, such as including multiple parties. Alternatively, you can let a law firm handle your claim. In complicated cases such as being hit by a commercial vehicle, a truck accident attorney in Birmingham can help to sort out the mess of liability, at-fault parties, and their insurers.
Working with an Attorney on Your Alabama Car Accident Claim
If you suffered injuries in addition to your property damages, you may opt to partner with a personal injury law firm that can handle your car accident claim or civil lawsuit. It can navigate the claims process for you and seek damages that cover a range of expenses and losses you experienced.
They will identify and value your damages, demanding a just payout from the insurer on your behalf. This will include your medical bills, lost wages, property damages, pain and suffering, and other losses in addition to your diminished value claim.
These types of lawsuits have different deadlines – up to two years per Ala. Code § 6-2-38 for injuries and six years for a diminished value claim—but your attorney will be able to handle them at the same time.
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You Can Reach Morris Bart & Associates, LLC, for a Free Case Review Today
The Morris Bart law firm offers free case evaluations for Alabama car accident victims. You can speak with a member of our team today. We have 16 locations across the Gulf South, including four locations in Alabama: Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery.
You can learn more about your case now for free. Call (800) 537-8185 to speak with us about your options for a personal injury, property damage, and diminished value claim.
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