If you were involved in an accident in the state of Oregon and weren’t at-fault, you could be eligible for a diminished value claim settlement. Due to some very favorable case law concerning the right to recover diminished value in Oregon as well as statute ORS 20.080, Oregon happens to be one of the best states in the country for getting compensated for your vehicle’s loss in value due to a car accident.
In Oregon, third-party claimants are entitled to a vehicle of the same value after the repair as they had before the accident, which means recovery for diminished value is allowed. In Mock v. Terry, if repairing the car does not return it to its previous value, then the difference must be made up in cash.
There are also court cases concerning first party claims such as Gonzales v. Farmers, that states insureds can be compensated for diminished value under their own insurance policy. Unfortunately, most auto insurance policies exclude coverage for first party diminished value making the ruling in this case of little value to you if you are trying to claim diminished value against your own policy.
However, there is an exception, if the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance you may be eligible to file a diminished value claim under your own insurance policy (uninsured motorist property damage coverage). If the accident was caused by an uninsured driver or hit and run driver, generally there is coverage under your uninsured motorist property damage for all sums which you are legally entitled to recover had the at-fault party had insurance. Your diminished value loss is one of those sums that you’re legally entitled to recover.
So what is ORS 20.080 and how does it impact your Oregon diminished value claim?
ORS 20.080 is a statute that applies to all property damage and bodily injury claims that are less than $10,000 and creates a right to recover attorney fees. The statute was enacted to pressure insurance companies into settling lower value claims, that if not handled appropriately, could turn relatively small claims into high risk, attorney fee cases. The goal of ORS 20.080 is not necessarily to take small cases into litigation, but rather to motivate insurance companies to resolve the smaller cases.
To maximize your diminished value claim in Oregon you’ll want to follow these steps:
• Have your vehicle properly repaired
• Get your vehicle appraised by a licensed appraiser after repairs are completed
• Send a demand letter and diminished value appraisal to the at-fault insurance company
• It is recommended to mail the demand to both the insurance company and at-fault driver by certified mail and return receipt
• Demand letter should specifically mention ORS 20.080 and allow a 30-day response before you file suit
• It is in the insurance company’s best interest to make their best possible offer within 30 days
• If they don’t make you a fair offer and you end up filing suit, all you need to do is beat their low offer by one penny and then you collect your award plus costs, and your attorney collects their legal fees which can be many times higher than the actual diminished value demand
The good news is, because of ORS 20.080, most diminished value claims in Oregon settle without the need to involve an attorney and without the need to go to court. Insurance companies handling Oregon diminished value claims are aware of the financial risks they face if they don’t handle your claim fairly. If they do treat you unfairly, ORS 20.080 is there to punish them for their failure to act in good faith. In Oregon, you’ll need help proving your claim and that’s where DVCHECK can help. DVCHECK is a nationwide provider of diminished value appraisal reports that will help you document, demand, negotiate, and recover your car’s diminished value after a car accident.