As Northern Ireland’s largest personal injury and road traffic accident solicitors we often come across this very common question from our clients which is: ‘I’ve heard that even after my car is repaired that it might be worth less than it was before the accident. Is that right?’
And the answer is Yes – in theory!
This is known as ‘diminution in value’ or the reduction in value of the car caused by the acceleration of the normal depreciation in value that any vehicle will have as a result of age and use.
The Diminution will occur at the time the accident damage but often you won’t feel the loss until you dispose of the vehicle. This does not affect the fact that the Diminution has happened, despite what some people might believe.
It stands to reason that if two vehicles are otherwise similar, the fact that one has been involved in an accident and one has not will mean that the damaged and repaired vehicle will be worth less to a buyer faced with a choice of either.
However, it is often difficult to put a value on what the reduction would be as there is no strict criteria that can be set to cover all eventualities.
The type of vehicle, its age, mileage, pre-accident condition, the severity of damage sustained or any other special attributes and qualities can have an impact on the amount that a vehicle will have been reduced.
The good news is that provided you are not fully to blame for the accident you can be compensated for all or part of the loss you incurred.
The process of obtaining an indication of the likely loss in value involves the appointment of an experienced motor assessor who can provide an assessment based on all of the relevant factors.
Whilst car dealers can also be a source of an opinion, it is the normal situation that the expert independent engineering evidence of a motor assessor will carry more weight when negotiating a settlement of this aspect of a person’s claim for damages.
In addition where a dispute arises as to the value, the other party’s insurance company or solicitors will likely appoint their own engineer so it is important that you have the best type of evidence in support of your own Diminution in value claim.
If you think you might have suffered a Diminution in value arising from a road traffic accident and would like some advice on your options JMK Solicitors are specialists in this area and we will ensure that you are adequately compensated and looked after throughout the process.