The owner of a vehicle damage in a car accident can bring a claim of Diminution of Value or Diminished of Value (“DV Claim”) against the at liability insurance carrier. This claim recognizes that the value of the vehicle has been reduced following the car accident. Insurance carriers have to compensate individuals for the loss of that value.
Typically our personal injury clients have a number of questions regarding bringing a DV claim. The most frequently asked questions from clients are as follows:
“Is there a formula to calculate the diminished value of my vehicle?
While states differ, there is no formula in NC. When arguing with insurance carriers our personal injury attorneys refer to the NC Pattern Jury Instruction which reads:
‘The plaintiff’s actual property damages are equal to the difference between the fair market value of the property immediately before it was damaged and its fair market value immediately after it was damaged. The fair market value of any property is the amount which would be agreed upon as a fair price by an owner who wishes to sell, but is not compelled to do so, and a buyer who wishes to buy, but is not compelled to do so.’
‘(If evidence is introduced regarding the actual or estimated cost of repair, the following paragraph should be used: Evidence of [estimates of the cost to repair] (and) [the actual cost of repairing] the damage to the plaintiff’s property may be considered by you in determining the difference in fair market value immediately before and immediately after the damage occurred.)’
“How is the diminution of value calculated for my vehicle?”
As there is no formula our lawyers look at a number of factors to determine the loss of value to the vehicle following an accident. Typically, our lawyers gather the history of the vehicle including, but not limited to,
1. Age, make, model and miles of the vehicle
2. Accident History
3. The location and type of damage to the vehicle
4. Was there anything unique regarding the vehicle (collector’s item)
5. The cost and quality of the repairs
6. National Automobile Dealers Association Pricing Guide Book value of the vehicle.
7. Appraised vehicle of the value
“Can I bring a DV claim against my own insurance company if I handle the property damage through my collision?”
Typically, the DV claim can only be brought against a liability carrier and not through the claimant’s insurance carrier. However, a claimant should always check their policy to see if it allows for DV collision claims (this would be unusual).
“Is there a time limit to assert a DV claim?”
North Carolina insurance code 11 NCAC 04. 0421 dictates how and when an individual can assert a DV claim.
If a release or full payment of claim is executed by a third party claimant, involving a repair to a motor vehicle, it shall not bar the right of the third party claimant to promptly assert a claim for diminished value, which diminished value was directly caused by the accident and which diminished value could not be determined or known until after the repair or attempted repair of the motor vehicle. Claims asserted within 30 days after repair for diminished value shall be considered promptly asserted.
Our lawyers take the position that, regardless of the insurance code, the Statue of Limitations is three years. As of the writing of this document there have been no cases on point wherein the court has reduced the three year statute based on the (conflicting) insurance code. However, best practices would dictate that the claim be made immediately so as to ensure a timely response.
“What are my options if I disagree with the insurance company’s offer?”
NC statutes dictate the options available to the client in a dispute. If we are unable to come to an agreement with the insurance carrier a process has been instituted which allows for both sides to get independent appraisals on the vehicle. If, following the appraisals the two sides still cannot agree an “umpire” is selected to review both appraisals. If both sides cannot agree on the umpire they can request the magistrate select the umpire. The umpire would review both reports and issue a written report of value. Either side can reject the umpire’s report, however. The only other option would be filing a lawsuit wherein a judge or jury would determine the value lost.
A DV claim is one claim that can be brought by an individual involved in an accident in North Carolina. However, along with a bodily injury claim (medical expenses, lost wages, scaring, etc) it must be prosecuted properly to ensure full value. To discuss your DV claim please contact us to speak with an experienced attorney.