Car accidents happen, but when your car gets banged-up on the road, the resale value instantly plummets. Even after professional repairs, your vehicle’s history report may haunt you – and your pocketbook – when it’s time to sell or trade-in your car.

The reason?  The vehicle, because it was damaged, has a “diminished value”, meaning it likely has a lower resale value than it had prior to the accident.  

There are three terms that insurance adjusters use when talking about diminished value after auto accidents. The first is immediate diminished value, which is the difference between the value of the car before the accident and after being repaired from the accident.

Inherent diminished value takes into account a potential buyer’s perception of a car that’s been repaired to its original condition, but which was in an accident. The perception is that a car that’s been through an accident and repair process is less valuable than the same vehicle that hasn’t, which negatively impacts resale value. 

The third form of diminished value you may face is repair related diminished value, which focuses on the quality of the work that was done to restore your car after the accident. This can encompass things like aftermarket parts, mismatched paint color, and other changes that mean your vehicle isn’t quite “like new” after the wreck-and-repair process. 

So, what can you do to protect your wallet?

There are only two ways to protect yourself in the event your automobile is damaged in an accident. 

The first approach is to talk to your insurance company about a diminished value insurance claim. Depending on your policy and the circumstances of the accident, you may be able to recover thousands of dollars for diminished value, particularly for a newer vehicle.

On the other hand, your insurer may also ignore your diminished value claim entirely. When that happens, your only recourse to recover your vehicle’s lost value may be in a courtroom, with an attorney at your side. There are many law firms across the country that focus on negotiating diminished value claims with insurance companies.

Given the price of many new cars and trucks these days, an experienced lawyer may be a wise investment if you’ve been through an accident on the road.

Louis Gertler is a Partner with the Gertler Law Firm in New Orleans, Louisiana. The law firm represents plaintiffs in personal injury matters and focuses on succession planning as well.  The information above is not legal advice and we urge you to consult with a local attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Gertler Law Firm
935 Gravier Street,
Suite 1900
New Orleans, LA 70112
(504) 581-6411