What Is a Diminished Value Claim in Oklahoma?
Car accidents can be a real headache. You need to get an appraisal. Take the car to the shop. Communicate to be sure repairs are going to plan. Deal with picking up and dropping off a rental car. And that’s not even including communicating with the insurance companies and making sure you’re getting the right amount of compensation to cover all of the damage. In Oklahoma, diminished value claims are an important part of the process.
What Does Diminished Value Mean in Oklahoma?
Diminished value is the amount of worth your vehicle loses when it is fixed after an accident. Here’s how it works. When you’re in a traffic accident and your vehicle is damaged, it will need repairs. The accident and repairs will become part of the record of its history.
Even if the repairs are expertly done, your vehicle will lose value simply due to the fact that it was in an accident. In other words, you won’t be able to sell or trade it in for as much money. After all, you wouldn’t pay the same amount for a vehicle that had been wrecked and repaired as you would for one that has never been in an accident, would you?
There are three types of diminished value claims in Oklahoma:
- Immediate: The value of the car after the accident but before repairs are made
- Inherent: The value of the car if repairs were done correctly (remember, the value will still go down)
- Repair-related: The value of the car if the repairs were done incorrectly or insufficiently
Oklahoma’s Criteria for Diminished Value Claims
To file a diminished value claim in Oklahoma, you need to prove that:
- You were less than 50% at fault for the accident (that is, you were not at fault in the accident).
- It is less than two years from the date of the accident, known as the “statute of limitations.”
- The vehicle is your property (it cannot be leased or financed).
- The damage was caused by the accident.
- There is a specific dollar amount for the diminished value.
In addition, Oklahoma requires that car insurance cover at least $25,000 in property damage. While it’s unlikely that diminished value alone will be more than that, your overall claim could be. That would mean the person at fault may need to pay from their own pocket.
What Can You Recover With a Diminished Value Claim?
While diminished value claims in Oklahoma are a separate claim, they go hand-in-hand with the cost of the repairs. Together, this is the “true” amount of damages you’re owed, including compensation for:
- The actual cost of repairs to your vehicle
- The cost of any rental vehicles you needed while yours was being fixed
- The cost of damaged or lost personal items, like sports equipment or luggage
- The diminished value of your vehicle
So, how are diminished value claims calculated? Auto insurance companies use a somewhat complicated formula, which involves:
- Calculating the value of your car before the accident
- Applying a 10% base value cap to that value (this is the maximum they will pay)
- Adjusting that number based on the severity of the damage
- Adjusting that number again based on your mileage
Keep in mind that insurance companies are always looking to pay as little as possible–after all, that’s how they stay in business! You don’t have to accept the number they come up with. You may be able to make a larger diminished value claim if you can prove that your vehicle is worth more or that the damage was more severe. An experienced car or trucking accident attorney can help.
How to Make a Diminished Value Claim in Oklahoma
Diminished value claims are separate from the cost of repairs, and most insurance companies won’t automatically pay them. You’ll need to do the following:
- Get a diminished value appraisal. This is a specific type of appraisal that is separate from your appraisal for repair costs. It will help you prove the repaired vehicle is worth less and by how much.
- Gather all of your paperwork, including any police reports, witness statements, or photographs you have.
- Submit the claim to the at-fault party’s insurance. Include a demand letter, all appraisals, and any other documents that help you prove your claim.
- Negotiate. Don’t accept the first number they give you if you think you can get a better settlement. Your professional appraiser and attorney can help you.
The Bottom Line
Car accidents are bad enough without having to worry about future damage to your finances. And insurance companies aren’t always willing to pay you what you really deserve. An attorney who is experienced at dealing with diminished value claims in Oklahoma can help you get the right amount of compensation for your vehicle accident. Contact the Oklahoma Injury Guy today to get started.