The Truth about Vehicle Diminished Value and Collecting Your Money is a secret the Insurance Companies do not want you to know.
Getting your money is not as easy as it sounds; when in fact some people gave up because of how the Insurance Companies gave them the run around when asking for their loss of value, the law called it “Diminished Value”.
When you have an accident that is not your fault and the vehicle is repaired, it is not perfect and the mechanic knows that, but it is very close to it and will work just as well for the most part.
Here is a case I did and like I do in all cases, how it happened and what the steps my client had to take in order to get his money.
First, he was rear ended by a man who was texting while driving. That rear-end collision caused him to be injured and his car incurred over $17,000 in damages. This was a 9 year old BMW with a Kelly Blue Book value pre-collision of $21,000.
After several weeks of waiting for his car to be fixed he finally got back his car. It looked very nice, in fact they painted the whole car so it looked the same all over in color; the color will fade a little as time passed.
A few months later he had a blowout in the rear of the car because of excessive tire wear and had to get new tires. He did not realize the tires had excessive wear and this is caused by improper alignment setting on the steering alignment parts that keep the wheel alignment in line so not to wear the tires.
He was told he needed a wheel alignment very bad so he gave permission for the Technician to align his car wheels after the new tires were put on.
He got the print out and it showed the green arrows in the acceptable zone of the charts and was told it looks like the car was hit in rear. They were able to get the alignment into the safe acceptable zone and should be fine.
After six months of driving and 7,000 miles later, he noticed his tires were showing uneven tire wear so he went back to the alignment shop and asked them to recheck their work. They said it is as close as they can get the alignment and he was advised by them of that accident damage.
This is when he saw the work done on the body repairs were not perfect. So he went back to the body shop and was told everything is just like it was before the accident and they can’t do any more for him.
He called the Insurance Company and they said to go to an alignment shop and get it aligned because the body shop said you must have hit something in the road causing this out of alignment problem.
His next step was to try to sell it or take it in for a trade-in and just take the loss. The Insurance Company said the car was repaired to original and it is worth the full $21,000 shown in Kelly Blue Book.
He took his car to BMW for a trade-in on a new BMW expecting to get the full $21,000 dollar value used on his trade-in. After an inspection was done, the offer on the Kelly Blue Book value of $21,000 dollars was only $5,000. He asked why is this low offer and he was told the car was in an accident; it has structural damage, it also has a bad Car Fax Report on it. He turned down the offer and left, very discouraged.
He was telling a friend at a lunch in his office about what happened. They told him about Diminished Value and recommend him calling someone who can prove Diminished Value; get a Diminished Value Report that can show the actual loss of value and then show that to the Insurance Company and see if he can get that loss of value.
He called around to several law firms and the Personal Injury Law Firm of Gary Walch in Calabasas, CA recommended him to call Lemon Protection and asked for Jackie Winters who specializes in Diminished Value. I do Diminished Value Reports and worked with several law firms in CA, NV, AZ and OR as an expert, now for over 15 years in Lemon Law, Fraud and Appraisal Values.
When I got his call, he told me what he has been through and is hoping I can help him with getting his loss of value. I asked him to send me all of his Estimate of Repairs including the Alignment Records. I am also a Certified Mechanic of over 39 years as a Heavy-duty Technician and Trained and Certified in all areas of the vehicles including alignment training by the Hunter Alignment Training Center by one of their top Master Technician.
After I got his Estimate of Repairs and the Alignment Chart, I found his car should have been Totaled Out. As with many people’s cars and trucks, the Technician knew the car should have been Totaled Out but only gave an Estimate of Repairs on the tear down part first and added there may be more repairs needed after full tear down.
So after the first Estimate of Repairs of $14,000 they got the OK to do the repairs, a few weeks later he got a second Estimate of Repairs and it showed another $3,500 in repairs were needed, now since the work was two thirds done they got the OK to do the rest of the work; this is when it should have been Totaled Out, slipped under the rug and the customer got stuck with it, the body shop prospered and the Insurance Company got off a little cheaper.
This is how a vehicle should have been Totaled Out gets past the not Totaled stage and now is back on the road as a good safe car when it should have been removed from the road. The now repaired vehicle is worth less than it was pre-collision, the good news for him is the law is on his side and he is entitled to get that loss of value better known in the courts as “Diminished Value”.
Now is the time for him to get on the ball and go after his money. After he got his Diminished Value Report package with a report proving the car should have been Totaled Out because the value after repairs showed he had over $17,000 in loss of value.
When he received his package from Lemon Protection, he followed the instructions we gave him in preparation of getting the money.
He sent a Certified Demand Letter to the owner of the car that hit him and to his Insurance Company, demanding his money for his loss of value and gave them 10 days to pay.
He got a letter from the Insurance Company telling him there is no law in CA that says they have to pay Diminished Value and his car was fixed; if he has any complaints about the repairs he should go back to the body shop, and he was told the Diminished Value Report I did, did not show loss of value, was all lies and worth nothing, and then he was given a diminished value report prepared by the Insurance Company.
I read that diminished value report prepared by the Insurance Company and it is one sided; no research proving actual average value, and is unfair and downright despicable, cheating the people out of money owed them.
My client filed for loss of value in Small Claims Court for $10,000 which is the maximum amount he is allowed to ask. He notified me the court date and time.
I prepared a Court Brief for the case since I will be the Expert Witness on this. The Brief I used was edited and approved by my Attorney so the Judge will see the Laws showing my client is entitled to get compensation for his loss of value, this loss is called “Diminished Value”.
We arrived at the Courthouse in Van Nuys, CA on May 2019 and met ½ hour before time to go inside the court room at 8:30 am. I gave him a copy of the file I prepared for him and explained to him he should ask the Judge to let him give him a copy of his file and then ask the Judge if I can speak about the Diminished Value Report.
The Judge said yes and then asked about my certifications and hands on experience. I told the Judge I have 39 years of hands on experience as an Expert Technician and 16 years as a Certified Appraiser. I went on to tell him I was first certified on Detroit Diesel in 1980, followed by GM, Cadillac as well as a trained and certified Heavy Duty Technician and later was certified by National Appraisal Institute. This company also certifies Technicians from other shops such as Mercedes, BMW, GM, Ford, Chrysler, Volvo, Mazda to name a few.
I then went on to explain how the Diminished Value Report proves the loss of value and how we came up with the numbers. I then explained the structural damage and why the car was not made whole as required by law.
The man from the Insurance Company said if he has a problem with the repair he can go back to the body shop and we will pay to have it fixed; he was attempting to show my client was mad about the repairs in hope to shift the way the Judge got the information he had to judge on.
I told my client we are not here about the body repairs and to remind the Judge he was not here about the body repairs, but was here about the resale value which is gone and the car is only worth junk price at most.
The Judge said, Mr. Winters, your Diminished Value Report is showing the car should have been Totaled Out but is still worth $1,300 according to your formula you are using right? I said, yes, your honor that is correct the car should have been Totaled Out.
The Judge said, well, he can drive the car and realistically what is it worth? I said, your honor it will continue to wear the tires out and is only worth junk price which is 25% of the value of the Kelly Blue Book and would only be good for parts.
The Judge said, one of you will not like my judgement but it will be final.
Five days after the case was over my client called and was ecstatic and said we won all the Diminished Value of $10,000 dollars; he was very happy and I was happy for him.
This is just one of many cases my Diminished Value Report was able to show and prove Diminished Value to the Judge; he was satisfied as was many other Judges in Small Claims Courts and Superior Courts. It is very satisfying to see someone who wins what should have been given them from the start.
Tell a friend.
Lemon Protection Est 1984 TM 1988/2001