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Washington Diminished Value Claims

March 7, 2023

Car accidents are always distressing, but while everyone understands that they can file personal injury claims with the hope of recovering damages such as medical expenses and lost wages when they’ve been injured in an accident, for many accident victims it’s less clear how they recover other damages. Though the ability to walk away from an accident with minimal injuries is paramount, economic damages and property damages are still of key importance, especially in today’s tough economic times.

If you’ve invested time and money into buying and maintaining your car only to have it damaged in an accident, you might think you just have to live with your financial losses now that your repaired vehicle is worth significantly less. What you might not know is that the law provides a means for accident victims to recoup that loss.

Washington Diminished Value Claims

What is Diminished Value?

If you’ve ever purchased a used car, chances are you’ve used CarFax or a similar car check service in order to ensure that the car you’re purchasing doesn’t have an accident in its background. Cars that have been involved in accidents may have lasting or recurring problems with bodywork and mechanics. Many times you can purchase these damaged vehicles at a greatly reduced cost. While this might be good news if you’re buying on a tight budget, what if you aren’t the buyer, but the seller or a vehicle owner hoping to make a fair trade-in with a car that’s been in an accident? In this case, an accident victim soon learns that even when their car appears flawlessly repaired after a wreck, its value has significantly diminished—often by as much as 40 to 60%, depending on the severity of the accident.

Diminished value is the term used to describe this drop in a car’s value after an accident—it’s the difference in value between a car’s worth before an accident and what it’s worth after an accident, regardless of the quality of the repair job. Fortunately, if your car has diminished in value due to an accident, you have legal recourse to recover this significant financial loss.

How Do I Get Compensation for Diminished Car Value in Washington?

In Washington’s at-fault insurance state, you can gain compensation for the loss in your car’s value after an accident by filing a claim against the insurance policy of the party liable for your accident. To do this, you’ll need to gather evidence for the claim, including the following:

  • Professional appraisals showing the market value of the car before and after the accident
  • Trade-in value statements from one or more dealerships
  • Evidence including the police accident report and copies of work orders for car repairs as well as photographic evidence revealing any noticeable difference in the car’s appearance

Even with ample evidence, insurance companies don’t happily write checks for diminished value claims. Typically, you’ll need a diligent and persistent accident attorney to underscore your rights as a victim in the accident and the obligations of the insurance provider of the party at fault.

Understanding Diminished Value Claims in Washington

If you’ve been in an accident in Washington and were fortunate enough to escape serious injury, you’re also lucky to reside in a state that allows victims to file diminished value claims. Accident victims in Washington have 3 years after an accident in which to file a diminished value claim to recoup the difference in the value of their car before and after an accident.

Powerful insurance companies hope you’ll walk away from a diminished value claim and simply eat your losses, but a good car accident attorney in Seattle, Washington knows how to pursue this type of claim. An improperly submitted claim is likely to result in a denial from the insurance company even when the at-fault party’s insurance policy expressly covers diminished value claims. It’s critical to have a seasoned attorney with experience in third-party claims representing your interests in a Washington diminished value claim after an accident.

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