CAR ACCIDENT DAMAGE REPAIRED – IS CAR WORTH LESS?
Often after an auto accident, the first thing people have to do is get the damage to their car fixed. The car repairs may be paid for by accessing the other driver’s insurance if they were at fault, or your own insurance if you have collision coverage/full coverage.
In an accident where there has been substantial damage to your car but it is still repairable, people sometimes wonder if their car is now worth less because of the crash, even after it has been repaired, and whether they can be compensated for the reduced value of their car. Your car may very well have less value after a crash, even if it was fixed. When you make an insurance claim, there is a record of the repairs, and that information can sometimes be accessed by prospective buyers, particularly if you try to trade in the vehicle at a dealership. Even if you sell your car privately, a potential buyer may ask you if the car has ever been in an accident.
It may be possible to get additional insurance compensation for the reduced value of the car after it has been repaired. However, the insurance company will not do this easily. Generally, you will at least have to have the car evaluated by an expert appraiser. In a recent Minnesota court of appeals decision, the court explained that the vehicle appraisal report must discuss in detail how the amount of any reduced value is arrived at. In other words, the appraiser would have to determine the value of the car before the crash and provide a detailed appraisal of the car after the repairs are completed. Determining the value of the car prior to the crash is likely a bit challenging for an appraiser who had not seen the car before, but if done carefully it could likely work. For example, the appraiser could be shown recent pictures, the car’s maintenance records, and conduct an examination taking into account the recent damage. The appraiser’s report should also discuss the sale of other vehicles in similar situations and how the price was affected. The key is getting a detailed report from the appraiser, fully explaining how the reduced value is arrived at so that an insurance adjuster or court won’t conclude that it is just speculation.
It is not going to be worth the cost and time to go through this in many cases, but if you have an expensive car with extensive damage from a crash, it may be worth it.
At the Rochlin Law Firm, our lawyers focus on getting people full compensation after they have been injured in a car accident in Minnesota. In most cases, it is not economical to hire an attorney just to help you recover compensation for damage to your vehicle. However, even if you have not been injured, our lawyers are always willing to spend a few minutes on the phone with you answering your questions about the insurance issues and pointing you in the right direction.