Thomas McCutcheon

We get lots of calls about car wrecks that don’t involve personal injury and those are not cases that we handle. There are rules and ideas for handling these cases that a person with a property damage case should consider.

Vehicle-related property damage claims includes the cost to repair your vehicle, but you can claim the value of upgrades you made to your car, like a stereo system or special wheel rims.

You can also make a claim for damaged personal property such as cell phones, sunglasses, and prescription eyeglasses.

The amount of money you are entitled to is the difference between the value of the property immediately before it was damaged and its reasonable market value immediately after it was damaged. In cases where an automobile is damaged but is not a total loss, the cost of repair is included in determining the amount due.

In addition to the cost of repair, any decrease in value to the automobile resulting from the damage can be considered. In case of newer model cars with substantial damage, the claim for diminution in value can be significant, but difficult to prove. I think it would take an experienced car dealer to provide proof.

A person can testify as to their opinion of the value of their own car. Typically, insurance companies will find five examples of similar cars and offer the average of those cars. That seems a reasonable way of determining the value, but it doesn’t take into consideration the value of a car that has been maintained by a particular owner, or the value of a new or rebuilt engine or transmission. Receipts for maintenance might help the court or insurance company see a higher value as opposed to the value of a different car.

Remember, a top of the line Ford Explorer might cost $50,000 in 2020 but might have only cost $25,000 in 2005. You’re only going to get paid for a 15-year-old car in 2020 and it will not replace a new car.

Buckle up, drive safely and as always your referrals are appreciated! 256-764-0112

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