Torts-Property Damages Includes Diminished Value of Repaired Vehicle

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Torts—Property Damages Includes Diminished Value of Repaired Vehicle

Oliver v. Henry, 613 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 31 (App. Div. I, July 28, 2011) (J.Winthrop)

PLAINTIFF MAY RECOVER DIMINISHED VALUE OF AUTOMOBILE AFTER ACCIDENT AND REPAIR EVEN THOUGH SHE HAS NOT SOLD, EXCHANGED OR DISPOSED OF VEHICLE

Plaintiff was involved in an auto accident. Defendant admitted fault and his insurance company paid plaintiff $15,535 to repair his Jeep Wrangler to industry standards. Thereafter, plaintiff retained an appraisal expert who opined that despite the repairs, plaintiff's Jeep suffered an $8,975 loss of value and sued defendant for this diminished value. Defendant moved for summary judgment claiming that unless and until an attempt was made to sell the Jeep, the claim it had suffered diminished value and the amount of such diminution was purely speculative. The trial court denied the motion and the matter proceeded to arbitration where the plaintiff was awarded $8,975 for diminished value and costs of $941.98.

The Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed noting that the “measure of damages for injury to personal property when it is not destroyed is the difference in the value of the property immediately before and immediately after the injury.” When the property is repaired the measure of damages includes not only the cost of repair but “allowance for any difference between the value of the property before the damages and the value after the repairs as well as the loss of use.” As such there is no requirement in Arizona law that the sale or transfer of a damaged vehicle take place in order to establish a claim for diminution in value or to prove the amount of the loss in value.

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