To qualify for a diminished value claim, you need to satisfy the following requirements.
- You cannot be 100% at fault for the accident. A notable exception to this is the State of Georgia, where you can be 100% at fault and still receive diminished value compensation. If you were assigned a partial percentage liability, then your eligibility to make a diminished value claim depends on your state. To find out the rules in your state, please refer to this excellent article from WalletHub called Contributory vs. Comparative Negligence.
- Your vehicle cannot be totaled. If your car is totaled, you just get a check for the pre-accident market value. There is no diminished value.
- Your car cannot be leased. If your car is leased, then legally, you’re not the legal owner. The legal owner is the leasing company, and only the legal owner is entitled to recovering diminished value.
- You must be within your state’s Statute of Limitations for Property Damage. After the accident, you get a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit for Property Damage. After that date you can no longer file a lawsuit against the driver who hit your car and since you have no way to enforce your claim, insurance companies, knowing this, will simply refuse to pay your claim. The good news is that in all but one state you have at least two years.
- If you have signed a Property Damage Liability Release, you will not be able to make a diminished value claim. The good news is that, if the vehicle is repaired, insurance companies rarely make you sign a release. In fact, even if they ask you to sign, you don’t have to — you have a right to get back your vehicle from the body shop without signing a release.
These factors completely rule out a diminished value claim. But there are several other considerations that don’t necessarily rule out diminished value but may effectively bring down diminished value to a very low amount or even $0.
- More than one prior accident.
- The car is very old. Over 15 years old.
- The car has very high mileage. Over 200,000 miles.
These factors are not set in stone — they are only rough guidelines. For example, if you have a 16-year-old Bentley with 220,000 miles, there would still be substantial diminished value. To get a good idea of how much DV is owed on your specific vehicle, get a free diminished value estimate from a professional auto appraiser.