The Effect of Prior Accidents on Your Diminished Value Claim

October 31, 2016 - Articles

If you have had your car damaged in a motor vehicle accident, then you may be able to file a diminished value claim to recover the lost market value of your car as a result of the accident.

Thanks to the prevalence of vehicle history reports, car buyers are more informed than ever about the accident history of their purchase.

As a general rule, vehicles with an accident history are worth less on the market than vehicles without an accident history – even if the vehicle with an accident history has been fully repaired and maintained in pristine condition.  In Florida, this inherent value loss is recoverable as part of a diminished value claim.

Diminished value claims are affected by several different factors, however, one of which includes the existence of prior accidents.  To state it succinctly: the inherent value loss attributable to a given accident (e.g. the diminished value claim) is minimized if there is already an accident history attached to the vehicle.

Confused?  Let’s use an example to clarify.

Suppose that you got into a car accident some years back.  After the accident, you repaired the car to its original condition.  Unfortunately, the market value of the car was reduced by virtue of it having an accident history.

Now, suppose that you get into a second car accident.  Again, you repair the car to its original condition.  The market value of the car is further reduced as a result of it now having a more extensive accident history.

To put it in simpler terms: With every accident, a vehicle loses additional market value.  When making a diminished value claim, the problem is in determining how much the incremental decrease in value is.  The diminished value claim for every subsequent accident will necessarily be lower in value, as the car can only have its already-diminished-value further diminished by so much.

Pursuing a Diminished Value Claim With Prior Accident History

In the state of Florida, it is perfectly legal to pursue a diminished value claim, even if your vehicle has a prior accident history.  The problem is not so much one of legality as it is of effectiveness.

Depending on the circumstances, it may not be sensible to pursue a diminished value claim.  Numerous factors influence the viability of a diminished value claim in situations where the vehicle has a prior accident history.

Two particularly important factors are:

Damage Caused by Prior Accidents

Diminished value claims are fundamentally based on a change in value.  As such, the strongest diminished value claims require that the value of the vehicle is high beforehand, and low afterwards.  A prior accident history negatively affects diminished value claims because it lowers the pre-accident value of your vehicle (thus minimizing the diminished value claim). 

The diminished value claim may be high damage enough to pursue if the prior accidents were relatively minor, and thus did not affect the overall market value of the vehicle too significantly.  If the accidents in the past were minor, then it is likely that your current diminished value claim will be substantial.

Base Value of the Car

The higher the baseline market value of your car, the more likely that you will have a diminished value claim worth pursuing.  A luxury car that has been in a prior accident or two may still be worth a great deal.  Subsequent accidents may reduce the value further (by tens of thousands of dollars, even), making a diminished value claim worth pursuing.

Pursuing a car accident diminished value claim is easier with the support of an experienced team of attorneys.  Our team at Coffey Trial Law is committed to the success of your claims.  Contact us today.