Diminished Value: The Lost Value of Your Vehicle
Anytime your car, truck, SUV, or other vehicle is in a collision, it loses value. That makes sense, as if you were to sell your car after it had been repaired in a crash, the next buyer is going to pay less for your car. That is exactly what diminished value (DV for short) is all about. Stevens & Legal can help you recover that lost value
First of all, the damage needs to be caused by the negligence of someone else. As in, if the accident is your fault, you cannot get paid for the DV. Secondly, the damages normally need to have been repaired. Lastly, there has to be a somewhat significant loss of value, otherwise it is not economical to try and recover the value. Generally, you need more than $500 in lost value.
Older cars, which are usually worth less, often do not have enough lost value. That makes sense, as if your 20 year-old Toyota Corolla is only worth $1000, it is hard to lose much value. Luxury vehicles and newer vehicles usually have a much greater loss.
There are several legal issues to keep in mind. First, the statute of limitations is six-years, since this relates to property damage. ORS §12.080(4). Then, generally speaking, you cannot get the other person to pay for your attorney's fees, but more on that in a moment. Lastly, you sometimes have two options to obtain the DV; the other driver's insurance, or sometimes your own insurance.
You can always go after the other driver's insurance carrier, unless they did not have insurance. It is also possible the overall claim exceeds that driver's insurance policy, also making that not an easy option. If they have no insurance, you can go after the driver personally, but that is usually not a particularly practical option. Hence why sometimes it makes sense to file a claim with your own carrier. The issue with this, is you have to have comprehensive coverage, and many insurance companies specifically exclude DV coverage.
As mentioned above, typically you cannot force the other side to pay for your attorney's fees. However, using Oregon's small tort statute (ORS §20.080), you can often recover attorney's fees in addition to getting the DV. In those situations that basically means you can hire an attorney to obtain the DV, and not have to pay the attorney out-of-pocket. Though you cannot get attorney's fees unless you hire an attorney.
Hiring an Attorney
At Stevens & Legal, we routinely handle these types of cases, and even file them with the court as need. We approach them in a multi-step process designed to make the economics work. We first start with working with our expert to see if there is enough of a loss to make it work. If it does, we charge a flat $200 plus the cost of the expert report (typically about $300). If we make a recovery without a need to go to court, then you get 100% of the amounts recovered, minus the flat charge and expert cost just noted.
If that initial demand does not work, then with the client's permission, we proceed to file with the court. The amounts owed to us then vary depending on how the case plays out, but are explained in detail before signing a contract with our firm.
While we usually handle cases in the metro area (Portland, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Gresham, etc.), we are able to take on cases across the state, from Umatilla to Eugene to Salem and the Coast.
Stevens & Legal has the experience to get you the results you deserve. Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation.
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