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How to Recover a Vehicle’s Lost Value after an Automobile Accident

Are you entitled to diminution of value damages in West Virginia if your vehicle is damaged in a collision?

When a vehicle is damaged in an accident it may be worth less than what it was worth before the accident even after it’s fully repaired.  This is not surprising when we ask ourselves, “Would I rather buy a used car that was damaged in a collision, or would I rather buy a comparable vehicle that has never been damaged in a collision?”

At West Law Firm, we are frequently called by people who have been involved in automobile accidents, and a common question we hear is, “If my automobile has lost value because of the collision caused by a negligent driver, will I be reimbursed by the other driver’s insurance carrier?”

The good news is that West Virginia is one of the states that does recognize a claim for diminution (loss) in value to a vehicle damaged by a negligent driver.  The West Virginia case, Ellis v. King, 400 S.E.2d 235 (W.Va. 1990) discusses this claim and what it takes to recover compensation from an at fault party.

The Court stated that, “if the owner of a vehicle which is damaged and repaired can show a diminution in value based upon structural damage after repair, then recovery is permitted for that diminution in addition to the cost of repair.”

Limitations to West Virginia diminution in value claims

To recover damages for lost value to your automobile after an accident, you will have to show that the collision caused structural damage to your vehicle.  The total compensation you receive for the damage to your vehicle can also not exceed the market value of your vehicle before it was damaged.

The Court also stated that, “only a vehicle with significant value prior to the accident is subject to recovery. Frankly, a vehicle that is so old or in such poor condition as to have minimal value will not be subject to recovery for loss or diminution in value.”  There are likely other legal issues involved with your case.  Consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer is often the best way to assess and protect your rights.

How to prove a diminution in value claim

It’s important to document the full extent of the damages to your vehicle through photographs and/or video before its repaired.  Sometimes it’s necessary to have an expert examine the vehicle and testify about any diminution in value.  If you also suffered bodily injury as a result of the automobile accident, an experienced car accident lawyer like those at West Law Firm can help you prove your claim.

Free Consultation with a West Virginia Automobile Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one was injured in an automobile accident and would like a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, we invite you to call our toll free number at 1-877-943-WEST (1-877-943-9378).  There’s never a fee unless and until we recover monetary compensation for you.  West Law Firm is located in Charleston, West Virginia and we serve injured clients throughout the state and country.

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