In the state of Washington, if you are in a wreck and the accident was not your fault you are entitled to file a claim for Diminished Value. The following cases are pertinent to the State of Washington and Diminished Value:

In Heaphy v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, 72 P.3d 220, 117 Wash. App. 438 (Wash.App.Div.2 07/01/2003) the Court of Appeal was required to accept "diminished value" as a basis its decision because defendant State Farm admitted it owed diminished value for the purpose of avoiding class action certification and to compel arbitration. The case stands for methods to determine diminished value or full indemnity.

Although not an automobile case the Washington Supreme Court in Certification From United States District Court for Western District of Washington v. Aetna Casualty and Surety Co., 113 Wash. 2d 869, 784 P.2d 507 (Wa. 01/04/1990), in the dissent on subjects not involving diminution, added dicta the general rule that “damages for injury to property are measured in terms of the amount necessary to compensate for the injury to the property interest. D. Dobbs 5.1, at 311. Therefore, damages for injury to property are limited under Washington law to the lesser of diminution in value of the property or the cost to restore or replace the property."

In Thompson v. King Feed & Nutrition Service, Inc., 105 P.3d 378, 153 Wash.2d 447 (Wash. 01/20/2005) the Washington Supreme Court allowed recovery of diminished value of a structure. In so finding the court said:

"The owner is entitled to recover the entire cost of restoring a damaged building to its former condition unless such cost exceeds its diminution in value as the result of the injury, in which event the recovery must be limited to the amount of such diminution. Under this rule the court should receive evidence both as to the cost of restoring the building and as to the amount of its diminished value, and then adopt as the measure of damages the lesser of the two amounts."

In Kurtis R. v. Sto Industries, Inc., 132 P.3d 115, 156 Wash.2d 677 (Wash. 04/06/2006) the Washington Supreme Court recognized that where the damage to real property is permanent, a plaintiff is entitled to recover, not only for the costs of restoration and repair, but also for the property's diminished value.

In order to recover the losses you must have a diminished value appraisal completed by a Professional Automobile Appraisal Company, such as Autoloss.com. Also, if the other party does not have insurance and you carry uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage you may be able to claim diminished value under your policy. Autoloss.com can help the Washington Consumer in many ways. Call 877-655-1661 so Autoloss.com can help you recover your losses today. Also, the statue of limitations for filing a diminished value claim in Washington is 3 years from the date of loss.

Washington Supreme Court Holds Diminished Value Covered by Auto Insurance Policy

Paul Rosner, northwestcoveragelaw.com

Yesterday, a 5-4 majority of the Washington Supreme Court held that certain auto insurance policies issued by Farmers Insurance Company of Washington required the company to pay for post-accident diminished value of repaired vehicles. The case arose out of a November 1998 automobile accident in which David Moeller's Honda Civic CRX was damaged. Farmers paid the cost to repair the vehicle. Moeller acknowledged that the repairs were complete and acceptable. However, in May 1999, Moeller brought a class action breach of contract lawsuit against Farmers for failing to pay for the vehicle's diminished value.

Our Supreme Court acknowledged that a majority of other jurisdictions have previously denied coverage for diminished value because an automobile policy's reference to "repair or replace" unambiguously encompasses only a concept of tangible, physical value. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court disagreed with this view, noting that "the majority view's framework ignores important presumptions in favor of the insurance consumer that are inherent in the rules of construction regarding insurance contracts."

The court explained that the policy must be construed as the average person would read it. Through this lens, the majority held, a reasonable consumer looking at the relevant policy language would expect to be placed in the same position he/she was in prior to the accident.

The court also held the class was properly certified despite the difficulty of determining damages.

Terry M. Fisher, Owner, Autoloss.com
Terry M. Fisher
Licensed Vehicle Appraiser #V26-102

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