A Basic Overview
|Is there a statutory basis controlling diminished value claims ?||
|Is there favorable Reported case law for Diminished Value Claims ?||
|Can my Collision Coverage cover the Diminished Value of my vehicle ?||
|Can my Uninsured Motorist cover my Diminished Value ?||
|What is the small claims court authority limit ?||
|What is the Statute of Limitations to recover my diminished value ?||
|Are “iCan” appraisals accepted into evidence ?||
An Objective Overview of
Diminished Value Laws
in New Jersey as reviewed by
J. D. Howard
NEW JERSEY IS A DIMINISHED VALUE RECOVERY STATE …
There is an over-abundance of Diminished Value appraisal services being promoted on internet search engines. Sadly, too many of those sites are run by unqualified hustlers out for a quick buck. There are only a hand full of qualified service providers that know what they’re doing and can be relied upon to tell the truth. This web site is among that hand full.
As noted above, New Jersey is a Diminished Value Recovery State. If your vehicle sustained collision damage due to the negligence of the other party, that other party (by and through their insurance company) owes you any Post-Repair Residual Diminished Value to your vehicle. IF the at-fault party is Not insured, and you have Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) coverage on your own auto policy, you may recover your vehicle’s Post-Repair Residual Diminished Value from your own insurance company. NOTE: Some sub-standard insurance companies have begun to put Limits on their UMPD coverage - Read Your Policy !
The Reported Case Law precedent in New Jersey, that assures your Right to recover your Post-Repair Residual Diminished Value, is … Fanfarillo v. East End Motor Co. (411 A.2d 1167) circa 1980, which has been upheld in 1987 and again in 2005. These findings are further upheld in the matter of ... Financial Services Vehicle Trust v. Panter (244, 204 A.3d 303) circa 2019. However, the combined total of repair costs + post-repair residual diminished value should not exceed the pre-damage Fair Market Value of the subject vehicle.
For the average person, enforcing their Right to Recover their Post-Repair Residual Diminished Value is most easily pursued by utilizing the Small Claims Court (kind of a Judge Judy type of environment) system. No attorney is necessary. The Rules of Civil Procedure are more informal. Costs are more reasonable (recoverable with judgment) and the process is faster. Though Small Claims Court authority is limited to only $3,000.00, recovery of that amount + costs + potentially our appraisal fee, can be preferable to hiring an attorney to file in District Court and have your case drag out for years.
NOTE: IF the accident were your fault ... Check with your tax advisor. You may (operative word “may”) be able to deduct your Post-Repair Residual Diminished Value from your income taxes as an “Uncompensated Casualty Loss”.
NOTE: IF you have a companion Personal Injury claim, arising from the same accident, DO NOT file suit solely for your Post-Repair Residual Diminished Value. New Jersey does NOT allow a plaintiff to “Split” their causes of action. Seek Further Advice !
If You Do Not Stand for Something . . . You Could Fall for Anything !
Notwithstanding what other web sites may have you believe, there are only 3 (yes, only 3) general categories of Diminished Value that impact consumers …
- Immediate / Inherent Diminished Value is the Loss of Value of a damaged vehicle immediately upon infliction of the damage.
- Post-Repair Residual Inherent Diminished Value is, as the title implies, that portion of the Inherent Diminished Value that was Not restored through the repair process.
- Repair-Related Diminished Value is that portion of a vehicle’s Loss of Value that is directly related to a less-than-optimal repair work product. Repair-Related Diminished Value is Not owed by the at-fault party. After all, it is not their fault that repairs to your vehicle were defective. UNLESS …
- The insurer of the at-fault party directed the repairs to a specific repair facility (or influenced your selection of repair facility). At that point, the insurance company is on-the-hook for repair defects and it becomes more of a Repair Warranty claim than a Diminished Value claim.
- A Repair Warranty claim would require physical inspection of the repaired vehicle. We may be able to recommend a local resource to help you facilitate your Repair Warranty claim.
FYI . . . DRP Agreements
DRP (Direct Referral Program) Agreements do exist (in writing). Under the terms of a DRP agreement, a body shop surrenders virtual control of their facility, to an insurance company, in exchange for that insurance company’s promise to promote that body shop to their insureds and claimants. All decisions as to method of repair and parts to be used are dictated by the insurance company. We’ve actually read one Insurance Company DRP agreement that stated “the vehicle owner shall remain ‘Blind’ as to any difference of opinion that may arise between [Insurance Company] and [this] shop”.
This Narrative Developed in Concert with Charles Bryant … Executive Director of AASP/NJ.