The goal of any insurance claim or personal injury claim is to provide proper healthcare and financially restore the victim as much as possible.
Any time a person is injured or suffers property damage in a car accident, they will most likely want to seek compensation for their damages through either a car insurance claim or a car accident injury claim against any responsible parties, with the goal of these claims being to restore themselves financially to their pre-car accident state.
In terms of injury compensation, the injured party’s own insurance coverage and policy will usually be the biggest determining factor when it comes to how much injury damage they are covered for, and how much will need to be sought from the insurance policies of any other drivers potentially responsible for the accident (discussed in detail in our article several weeks ago).
Compensation for property damage is handled in a very similar matter, but a relatively new aspect that car accident victims are having to contend with is the increasing prevalence of car accident history reports like Carfax, VehicleHistory.com, and DMV reports.
Today’s article will focus on how these accident history reports and their increasing availability and use may actually be causing even more property damage to car accident victims, and what options are at your disposal when it comes to mitigating and seeking compensation for these added damages if you have been involved in a car accident.
Hamilton Car Accident Lawyers and “The Value of Your Car after an Accident”
As previously mentioned, the goal of any insurance claim or personal injury claim is to restore the victim of any kind of accident to a pre-accident state financially. When it comes to car accidents, this used to be relatively straightforward when it came to damages to the vehicle itself. In the case of the total loss of the vehicle, the car accident victim could simply refer to car appraisal guides like Kelly Blue Book, input the make, model, year, mileage, options, and features of their car and obtain a very accurate estimate for the value of their car.
However, as private buyers and dealerships increasingly factor in vehicle accident history reports when making a purchase, the simple fact that your car was involved in an accident can significantly reduce its value, even if it was repaired to its pre-accident state. If any kind of buyer is presented with the option of buying two identical cars, but one has been involved in an accident, and the other has not, 9 times out 10 that buyer will elect to purchase the vehicle that has no history of the accident.
This truth means that your car fundamentally no longer has the same value it would have had it not been involved in an accident, even if that accident only caused minor or superficial damage to your vehicle, or even if your vehicle was completely repaired in terms of its performance, safety, and appearance.
Adding Vehicle History Damages to a Mercer County Car Accident Claim
Considering now that the mere fact your vehicle was involved in an accident can severely diminish its value, we must ask “what can a car accident victim do about this?”.
Unfortunately, current New Jersey court precedents have more or less established that car accident victims seeking compensation for this kind of damage from their own insurance company (known as a first-party claim) can, and usually will be, denied compensation for the damage done to their vehicle in the form of car accident history reports.
On the other hand, plaintiffs have found much more success when including this kind of damage as part of a third-party claim, that is to say, claims for damages against another driver and their insurance policy provider. In addition, in situations where the negligent driver is uninsured, or their insurance is not enough to cover these damages (under-insured), then the driver who is seeking damages can instead do so through their own uninsured/under-insured motorist (UIM) coverage, at which point compensation for damages done to a vehicle due to its involvement in an accident and subsequent inclusion in car history reports may actually be able to be recovered.
Like any claim for compensation, be it for injuries or for property damage, a claim seeking damages for the diminished value of your car due to its involvement in a car accident will need to be supported by evidence, and for these kinds of damages specifically, expert testimony is the most often relied upon the type of evidence to substantiate these damages. However, expert testimony costs money, so if the diminished value of your car is of similar value to the cost of expert testimony, at the end of the day it may not be worth actually pursuing compensation for these kinds of damages. On the other hand, if your car was a collectible or some kind of high-end luxury car, the value of these damages to your car can often be extremely high, making it much more worthwhile to seek compensation for its diminished value.
Contact Our Trenton Car Accident Claims Attorneys Today
Any time you are seeking compensation for injury damages or property damages, be it from a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, construction accident, a slip and fall, a premises liability claim, or any other kind of accident, possibly the most important thing you can do is to retain the counsel of an experienced Mercer County accident and injury attorney in order to better understand your options, help you gather and present the evidence necessary to support your claim, and ultimately help you and your family secure the compensation you need and deserve for the damages you have suffered.
At the Law Office of Cohen & Riechelson, our attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in all manner of a car accident and personal injury claims in towns across New Jersey and Mercer County, including East Brunswick, Princeton, Hamilton, Lawrence, and Trenton. Practicing law since 1972, our firm has carefully refined our ability to provide effective, knowledgeable, and attentive representation to each of our clients, with our ultimate goal being to work closely with our clients and their families in a wide range of legal matters including personal injury, workers’ compensation, and municipal and criminal court defense.
To speak with our attorney team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding any kind of accident and the resulting damages to your life, and how we can help you to recover full and fair compensation for these damages, please contact us online, or through our Hamilton, NJ office at (609) 528-2596.