Understanding Diminished Value Claims in Virginia

Understanding Diminished Value Claims in Virginia

Understanding Diminished Value Claims in Virginia

Navigating the complexities of diminished value claims in Virginia can be daunting, yet understanding this process is crucial for those who have experienced a reduction in their vehicle’s value due to an accident. This comprehensive guide will provide insights into what diminished value claims are, the legal framework in Virginia, and practical steps to file such claims.

What is a Diminished Value Claim?

In Virginia, a diminished value claim is essentially a demand for compensation due to the loss in market value of a vehicle after it has been involved in an accident and repaired. Even if a vehicle is meticulously repaired, its market value typically decreases because it now has a history of damage. This type of claim is particularly relevant in Virginia where vehicle history report services like Carfax have made buyers more informed and cautious about purchasing vehicles with a history of serious accidents​​. Ask your injury lawyer to help you maximize value.

Legal Framework

Virginia’s law, specifically Virginia Code §46.2-1600, defines diminished value compensation as the amount paid by an insurance company to a third-party vehicle owner, in addition to the cost of repairs, for the reduced value of a vehicle due to damage​​​​. The foundational case law, Averett v. Shircliff, establishes the measure of damages as the difference between the market value of the vehicle at the time of injury and its market value post-repair​​.

Eligibility for Filing a Claim

To be eligible for filing a diminished value claim in Virginia, there are certain criteria that must be met:

  1. Type of Claim: It applies only to liability claims where the vehicle damage was caused by someone else’s negligence, not to first-party “collision” claims​​​​.
  2. Documentation: Essential documentation includes photographs of damages before and after repairs, and a written appraisal from a qualified appraiser documenting the vehicle’s condition post-repair and its loss in value​​.
  3. Statute of Limitations: There is a 5-year statute of limitations from the date of loss for filing diminished value claims in Virginia​​.

Filing the Claim

  1. Appraisal: Obtain a professional appraisal of your car’s diminished value after repairs. This appraisal should ideally come from a licensed, independent expert​​.
  2. Insurance Company Notification: Notify the at-fault driver’s insurance company of your intention to file a claim. It’s important to know that insurance companies are not obliged to inform you about the possibility of such claims​​.
  3. Negotiation and Settlement: The insurance company will likely negotiate the claim amount. Be prepared to provide substantial supporting documentation and possibly negotiate to reach a fair settlement​​​​.

Additional Considerations

  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage: In cases where the at-fault driver is uninsured, your policy may include coverage for diminished value​​.
  • Professional Assistance: Involving a personal injury attorney can be beneficial in evaluating your situation and ensuring that you make a comprehensive claim​​.


Diminished value claims in Virginia provide a pathway for vehicle owners to recoup losses in value due to accidents. It’s a process that demands thorough documentation, a clear understanding of legal requirements, and often, strategic negotiation. Staying informed and proactive is key to successfully navigating this often-overlooked aspect of post-accident recovery.