In a simple San Antonio car accident where personal injuries are minimal, the issue often becomes proper valuation of property damages to the vehicles involved. There are two types of damages to personal property – valuation damages and repair damages. Most people assume that the value lost from a car wreck is strictly limited to the cost of repair or replacement value. In most cases, those methods are proper valuations, but there may be other ways to value personal property and make valid claims on auto accident damages.
In a personal injury car accident suit, determining market value of the damaged vehicle is the most common form of evaluating damages. If market value cannot be determined, other methods exist including replacement value, actual value, and sentimental value. Texas courts have generally ruled that actual or extrinsic value may be used only when market value or replacement value are unable to be determined.
So what exactly is market value ? Texas cases define market value as the price the vehicle would fetch if it were offered for sale. In the event of a car accident, the market value is the difference in value of the vehicle immediately before and after the collision. In cases where the vehicle is completely destroyed, then the damages are measured as the value of the vehicle just before the accident minus the salvage value. This is why that more often than not, in the case of older vehicles, after an accident , the most you will receive from the insurance company is the salvage value of the vehicle where the repair costs far outweigh the market value.
The county where the auto accident occurred is the marker for determining market value. As such, an Austin car collision might be valuated differently than a San Antonio auto damage case. I have referred to some different ways for determining valuation damages. There are certain types of property that will be subject to this market valuation method i.e. the difference in the value of the item immediately before and after the damage.
For example, Texas courts have stated automobiles, machines and equipment, and even animals are subject to market valuation methods for loss valuation. Interestingly, an owner can recover for the death or injury of a beloved animal in a San Antonio auto collision. Although many owners who lose an animal in a car accident would vehemently argue for the sentimental value of their treasured animals, the recovery for an animal’s death is limited to the market value. Sometimes, in the cases of animals that have high monetary value for their special characteristics or usefulness, the owner can bypass market value and obtain a greater recovery. For example, seeing-eye dogs or dogs with unique breeding potential have been assessed actual values based on their monetary value. Unfortunately, owners cannot obtain a monetary recovery for the pain and suffering related to an animal’s injury or death.
The cost of repair is another component of market value. In certain cases, an injured plaintiff can recover repair damages in addition to market value. Texas courts have ruled that when market value is determined before repairs are made, an injured party can recover either the cost of the repair of the lower difference in market value. Both market value and cost of repairs however cannot be recovered when the market value is assessed before the repairs are done.
Where the market value is determined after the repairs are made, then an injured party can obtain both the cost of repair and the difference in market value. This may be a little confusing given the last paragraph. The best way to explain this concept is that the cost of repair is not the same as a loss of market value if the market value is based on a comparison of the property before damage and the value after repairs.
If you believe an insurance company is not properly compensating you for the loss of damage to your vehicle, Baseluos Law Firm can assist you with both your auto injury and property damage claims.
In our next blog entry, we will discuss methods of proving market value and other methods of valuating property loss in Texas collision and negligence cases.